The day began with a powerful Bible Study lead by Deborah Krause, professor of New Testament at Eden Theological Seminary. She focused on the Gospel of Mark as an early church witness in the context of the Roman Empire's dominance. This and Romans 12:1-2 provide a Biblical mandate and foundation for today's church witness in the context of the cultural dominance of empire.
Today the committees went to work with public hearings, hearing overture advocates, and beginning to make decisions on the work before them. There are 13 committees. It's always interesting to see how committee members struggle at first to understand things about which they are not experts, to get the rhythm of discernment and Roberts Rules of Order for decision making. But they always seem to figure it out by the end of the first day of deliberation. The listen, ask clarifying questions, sometimes amend, and perfect responses for the plenary's consideration later in the week.
Some items I followed today: Committee on Mid Councils spent most of the day on whether to have an Administrative Council to assist the Synod of the Covenant with some conflict. They are unanimously recommending the plenary to do so. The Committee on Environmental Issues will recommend 35 yes, 20 no, and 1 abstention to direct the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Foundation to divest from fossil fuel industries. The Committee on Theological Education and Church Growth will suggest that Martin Luther King, Jr's letter to the churches from the Birmingham Jail be present to the churches for study for two years as a non constitutional confession, with the thought that it might some day be considered to be included in the Book of Confessions as an additional confession.
Then there are the multiple options for lunch and dinner banquets. I attended the World Mission Luncheon with World Mission Staff, mission coworkers, and global partners, and dinner with Middle Council leaders sponsored by the Presbyterian Mission Agency.