Thursday, June 21, 2018

223rd General Assembly - Day Six

The Assembly acted on a lot of important matters today.  Heard from ecumenical and interfaith partners (Jewish), received reports and approved a guiding statement which will help brand the PCUSA---Prayerful, Courageous, United, Serving, Alive.  Approved the Way Forward recommendations.  Acted to fund new initiatives for addressing the genesis root causes of the exodus of refugees from Central America to the USA, saw a trailer for a film the Presbyterian Mission Agency produced  Please watch it, share it, and discuss it.  New Mission CoWorkers will be funded to work in El Salvador and Central America where violence and economic collapse has caused families to flee.  Another new initiative will be engaging and supporting a ministry with North Korean refugees in South Korea.  Everything thing today seemed to pass with near unanimous support.  Amendments only seem to strengthen overtures, and the only debate was over money, how the cost of new initiatives will effect existing initiatives and staff.  Sounds like the challenge of a Session, right!  Then we were taken to Sunday School by a YAAD who reminded us that we live in God's economy where there is enough, not scarcity.  There is excitement in this Assembly that we are on the move, trying to catch up with God.

This Assembly continues to be different, in that instead of slogging through a Thursday night plenary business, we took the evening of celebration and hope.   Many of us attended a Hands and Feet Celebration featuring Kirk Whalum, Blues/Jazz musician, preacher's kid evangelist in concert with his band.  He is the saxophone soloist in Whitney Houston's hit song "I'll Always Love You!"  He ministered to our tired souls and had us Presbyterians singing and swaying, and clapping and praying with arms lifted like a bunch of Pentecostals! 

Hands and Feet is an initiative envisioned by our Stated Clerk, J. Herbert Nelson shared two years ago when he stood for election.  He has called upon the Church to focus its resources on St. Louis to make a difference here.  Encouraging Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Self Development of People, U-Kirk Campus Ministries, Presbyteries to join the Presbytery of Giddings Lovejoy and their strategic partners to come and engage here to join God's hands and feet to do what needs to be done here in this city.  A video was shown telling the story.  Find the video at this link.  The celebration concert was a stewardship gift of the musicians and a sponsor, so that all the ticket sales went to support Hands and Feet initiative.  The focus of Hands and Feet for the next two years is Baltimore, the host city of the next General Assembly in 2020.  Think about joining this initiative with your next mission trip!

Eileen and I spoke with Vernon Boyles, a long time PMA staff and then volunteer since his retirement, leading Presbyterian voice for the social justice witness of the PC(USA) for as long as I've been in ministry.  He was beaming from ear to ear, and said, "This has been a wonderful week!  J. Herbert is a wonderful leader."  I couldn't agree more.  This is NOT your normal Assembly.  Get ready to receive your commissioners home.  We are on fire for the Lord!  It's about Kin-dom building.  "Seek ye first the kin-dom of God, and all these things will be given to you?" 

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