Dr. Michael F. Ross, senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, N.C., has been elected moderator of the Presbyterian Church in America’s 40th General Assembly.
Serving as moderator – especially as the PCA observes its 40th anniversary – is, according to Ross, “very humbling, a very special honor, even to be nominated.”
Ross said he agreed to be considered for three reasons. “The moderator is the man in the middle, seeking to bring people together and be a consensus-builder,” he said. “You also need to be able to move business along in timely fashion.”
The third reason is close to Ross’ heart, since it relates to the theme for this General Assembly, “Generations in Community.” A champion of church revitalization, he recognizes understandable tension and unrest within the PCA – as with most denominations – between older and younger generations.
“In biblical terms 40 years is a generation, and it’s normal to hear younger people saying, ‘This isn’t 1972 anymore,’” he explained. “As moderator, it’s important to have the ear of both the older and younger groups, so everybody has a voice and can be well-heard.”
Past General Assemblies have dealt with a variety of controversial issues, and although Ross does not expect “any landmines this year … there are always overtures that come up.” As for the PCA as a whole, Ross commented, “I tend to be optimistic about where we are and where we’re headed.”
When he entered the pastorate, the PCA was “either all-white suburbanites or in little towns. Now we’re coast-to-coast, much more ethnically diverse, and there is a strong PCA presence in large urban areas.
“Our seminary and college are doing well, as is the women’s ministry. The women and men in the PCA work together very well, which is not typical of many denominations. But we also are in a time of transition. It’s time for change, and change is always scary.”
Dr. Ligon Duncan, senior pastor of First Presbyterian in Jackson, Miss., nominated Ross as moderator. He commented, “Mike is uniquely gifted in terms of his natural leadership abilities. These have suited him perfectly as a moderator in presbyteries, and I know that will be the case as moderator for the General Assembly.
“He had extensive business experience before going into the pastoral ministry, which is very helpful. Mike is very fair, highly intelligent, good on his feet, gracious, and a uniter not a divider, well-respected by everyone.”
Duncan, who served as General Assembly moderator in 2004-05, has known Ross since 1992, when he was Ross’ assistant pastor at Trinity Presbyterian in Jackson. Being able to nominate him was “a huge privilege, given our long relationship and the unique perspective I have as his former assistant.”
Ross holds a degree in business administration from Ohio State University and an MBA in management from Miami (Ohio) University; he did post-graduate study in economics and public administration at Memphis State University. At age 27, he came to know Jesus Christ and left a business career to pursue vocational ministry.
After earning a master of divinity degree from Columbia Biblical Seminary and doctor of ministry degree from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Miss., Ross was ordained in 1982 and became the organizing pastor of Surfside Presbyterian Church in Surfside Beach, outside Myrtle Beach, S.C.
He served there as pastor until 1992, when he became senior minister of Trinity Presbyterian in Jackson. Ross led that congregation through major growth, also starting a sister congregation that remained in the church’s original location when Trinity acquired a new campus for ministering to another part of the Jackson community. He left Trinity in 2006 after being called to serve as senior pastor at Christ Covenant.
Ross travels overseas annually, teaching missions and preaching. He has served as moderator of the Palmetto and Mississippi Valley presbyteries, currently moderates the Central Carolina Presbytery, and has served on the General Assembly’s Standing Judicial Commission and other commissions.
He has written two books, Preaching for Revitalization and The Light of the Psalms: Deepening your faith with every Psalm, and has authored the PCA’s “50 Days of Prayer” booklet since its inception in 2002. His growing national speaking ministry includes daily and weekly radio programs, and he serves as an adjunct professor at Reformed Theological Seminary.