The Assembly worshiped with congregations of the host Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy this morning. Eileen and I worshiped with the First Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, the oldest Presbyterian Church west of the Mississippi. Jessica Vasques Torres preached on the Lord's Prayer reframing this prayer as a call to revolution, to boldly join in insurrection against evil. It will be a while before I say this prayer without pause. We lit a candle for Eileen's brother who has been recently in the hospital.
The afternoon plenary was given to reports from the Stated Clerk and three committees/commission mandated by the 222nd GA in Portland. J. Herbert Nelson lifted up the theme of this assembly, "Strive first for the Kindom of God and all these things will be given to you as well," Matthew 6:33. He called commissioners to make this a turn around Assembly, to move our aim from success to significance in addressing and bringing healing to the brokenness of our time. Imagination is the only way to usher in the Kindom of God. Note "Kindom" is not misspelled here. The Assembly planners have coined this new word to point to our oneness in Christ.
The 2020 Vision Committee grounded their report in scripture, "Write the vision, make it plain so a runner can read it" from Habbakuk. They presented a guiding statement based on the PC(USA) which will be considered by the Assembly:
We are encouraged to incarnate and live into these. Focus on these in sermon series, Bible studies, word for the year, VBS and Camp themes.
The Way Forward Commission and the Agency Review Committee reported together, sharing that they collaborated in much of their work.
At dinner the Board of Pensions gave us a new book "Our Connectional Church: The Hopeful Future of the PC(USA)" by Gradye Parsons, commissioned by the Board of Pensions. The book begins identifying elements of what Gradye describes as our Presbyterian Aquifer, what we all hold in common. He then tells the stories of four congregations as examples of innovation and vital ministry. Then Frank Spencer, the President of the Board of Pensions gave an insightful report of the research on congregational data and of exciting new Board of Pensions initiatives to address our challenge.
All in all, it was a very inspiring, hope filled day. The committees met for the first time this evening. They are meeting in closed session doing group building and organizing their work these evening. Tomorrow they will hear from overture advocates and others who have come to speak to items before them.
Happy Father's Day!