Saturday, June 30, 2012

220th General Assembly, Saturday

All of Lake Michigan Presbytery's commissioners arrived on Friday. Our YAAD, Theresa Larson was stranded in the Detroit Airport because of a canceled flight, but got to her hotel at 3:30 a.m. this morning! She met another YAAD who was scheduled for the same flight, so she had company. Jim Hegadus, Eileen and I started the day with a Middle East Peace Breakfast. Speakers advocated for our role as peacemakers and bridgebuilders and against PC(USA) Divestment which is recommended to this GA. Then the commissioners participated in Riverside discussions: round robin small group presentations on topics that will be addressed by the assembly. This was an opportunity for commissioners learn about, discuss in table conversations and engage in topics other than those they will engage in their appointed committees. Jim and I also attended the Presbyterian Outlook Luncheon. The four moderator candidates were introduced and had a chance to address the group. It seems the Assembly couldn't go wrong, as the four are all strong candidates. Then the Assembly convened with a grand opening worship at 1:30, with I'm guessing 7,000 worshipers. One bus came from as far as Buffalo for just this service! We sang old stand by hymns: "Praise Ye the Lord, the Almighty," and "I Greet Thee, Whom My Sure Redeemer Art." Calvin's lines seemed to jump off the page, "Thou hast the true and perfect gentleness, no harshness hast thou and no bitternes: O grant to us the grace we find in thee, that we may dwell in perfect unity." Cynthia Bolbach preached a power sermon on Jesus' healing of the paralytic (Mark 2:1-12) calling us to be those disciples who bring the paralyzed to Jesus. Then a newly commissioned song for this occasion led us to holy communion, "Wait for the Lord" based on Isaiah 40:28-31, which is the theme of the Assembly, "Walk, Run, Soar!" In the morning and then after worship, while the commissioners were being oriented and welcomed by the host Pittsburgh Presbytery, I was at the Face to Face interviewing persons interested in the position opportunities in Lake Michigan Presbytery. At this evening's plenary, they thanked the outgoing moderator and vice moderater, and elected a new moderator for this assembly. On the fifth vote, they elected Neal Presa, they youngest candidate, who is pastor of a multicultural congregation in Middlesex, NJ, and member of Elizabeth Presbytery. He is also an adjunct professor for worship at New Brunswick Seminary. In presenting himself in official materials published by the OGA, he lifted up the witness of Julian of Norwich, the 14th Century mystic, "...but all will be well, and all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well," as a conviction he believes. He is a Filipino American from Guam. In comparison with other assemblies, there was little to no organized campaign booths for any of the candidates, no buttons, hats or flyers. The only vestiges of the old election campaigns was a few supportive tea shirts worn by supports. The Assembly was bless with four strong candidates. There was little shifting in voting until a stretch break and then prayer before the fifth vote. Interestingly, Presa and his choice for Vice Moderator come to assembly with different views of marriage.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

McBain Church Closing

The First Presbyterian Church in McBain gathered for the final time on June 24, 2012.  The congregation was organized in 1888.  Worship was led by Rev. David Weber, whose message, based on Joshua 24:1-3, 14-25 and 1 Peter 2:1-10, called the congregation to remember who they are, "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation."  Then followed a decommissioning service.  The Honorable Don Scheper, Mayor of McBain, shared a proclamation of appreciation, the Rev. John Best, General Presbyter, gave thanks for their witness, and the Rev. Linda Male, chairperson of the Administrative Commission, formally received the Session records.

First, McBain Church building

 Elders Bob Marcus, Sandy Moffit, and Rev. John Best by church sign

From left to right, Rev. Linda Male, Elder Sandy Moffit, Rev. David Weber, Rev. John Best, Elder Bob Marcus

220 GA

The 220th General Assembly convenes June 29th at Pittsburgh, PA.  Commissioners from Lake Michigan Presbytery are Elder Sharon Brinks (Forest Hills), Elder Ron Hayes (Jonesville), Elder Janet Magennis (Holland, First), Rev. Jeff Garrison (Hastings, First), Rev. James Hegadus (Jackson, First), and Rev. George Hunsberger (Western Theological Seminary).  I will be accompanying them and writing a daily blog.  You can also follow events at  Please pray for the work of this Assembly.  

Following the Assembly I will be taking a few days of vacation, then traveling with John Petro (Kalamazoo, First) to Ghana July 17-25 to visit our partners there in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ho Presbytery. I will be back in the office on Monday, July 30.  May God Bless you in your summer activities.

Yours in Christ,