Sunday, June 17, 2018

223rd GA Day One

This is my seventh General Assembly.  The first day is always overwhelmingly powerfully wonderful!  Today was particularly so.  Most Presbyterians are members of larger churches, but small churches make up the large majority of congregations and the pastors who serve them.  Worshiping in a large space with thousands present is an elixir for the soul.  But the music, the mass choir of 200, the brass and the organ accompaniment, the Native American flute, the Hispanic and world music, the liturgy which speaks to the crux of our experience, heart ache and passion, the preaching and teaching, all work together creating a mystical magic on one's soul on the first timer and frequent participant.  I experience the power of the Holy Spirit working in me when singing the hymns, I can't get the words out.  Only tears come.  Opening worship at GA is like that for the newcomer and veteran alike. 

The Office of the General Assembly arranged for Liz Theoharis, co-moderator of the Poor People's Campaign, to speak at the pre-Assembly Gathering, prior to worship.  So by the time worship began, my heart was already on fire.  This was true for everyone else who went to the Pre-Assembly Gathering.  Then, the Assembly opened with worship.  The service began with the filling of the baptismal font.  Families of various races, ethnicities, all ages young and old and of a variety of make up carried pitchers of water to the font and poured in the water.  The final family was two husbands and their young son.  This ritual showed the churches growing diversity, of our growing deep and wide showing the height, depth and width of the loving hospitality of God, and the rich diversity of God's creation.  The PC(USA) has come a long way since 2006, when I began attending GAs on a regular basis.  

After an afternoon of orientation, and preliminary reports by the Committee on Local Arrangements introducing us to St. Louis and the witness of the host Giddings Lovejoy Presbytery, and the Co-Moderators reflections on their two years of visiting the church here and around the world, this evening the GA elected new Co-Moderators Vilmarie Citrón-Olivieri and Rev. Cindy Kohlmann on the fourth ballet.  They embody a commitment to lead the church in a time when racism, misogyny, homo and xenophobia embedded in our culture continues to rear its head.  This Assembly is poised to speak truth to power and empower the church to work for social justice in the name of Christ.  

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