GA – Final Thoughts

8 07 2012

Reflections on the 220th General Assembly

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Closing worship at the 220th meeting of the General Assembly of Presbyterian Church (USA) meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, ended with the affirmation that “the Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ;” and few things were more evident than that during this year’s national meeting of the denomination that I have called home for the past 29 years.  It was an honor and a privilege to serve as one of the Teaching Elder Commissioners from the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia, and I humbly sought to carry out my responsibilities with energy, intelligence, imagination and love.  And here I have to confess that while I think I did pretty well with the intelligence, imagination, and love, when it comes to energy, I was a wimp.  At midnight on Friday I had had enough, and so I skipped out on the last hour and half of that day’s plenary session.  It was way past my bedtime and I simply was in no condition to be making important decisions for the church.  Other than that – I gave it everything I had and sincerely hope that I was faithful in all I did and said.

For me, the highlight of GA is always worship; and this year was no different!  Above all, this is what I will take away.  The Moderator of the 219th Assembly, Cynthia Bolbach challenged us to continually remember that our primary calling is to bring people into the presence of Jesus.  Brian McLaren encouraged us to continue to speak in the prophetic voices that mark our past.  Margaret Aymer reminded us that in the presence of Jesus, the only label that matters is ‘faithful.’  And the day we left, Yena Hwang charged us to make sure that the path to that place where Jesus is, is kept as broad and as open as possible.  Drama, dance, a jazz band, a choir, bells, and congas lifted our spirits, honored our God, and displayed new and fresh ways for worshipping communities to express themselves.  And of this has scarred my soul in beautiful ways.

Countless decisions were made, some of which I agreed with, and some of which saddened me.  But I will remain faithful.  Great days lie ahead for this church, provided we keep talking, praying, wrestling with one another, and following the Spirit into a bright and glorious future.

To all you Presbyterians reading this, take heart.  We may be bruised, but we are not defeated.  Bruising simply comes with the territory!  God is being glorified throughout this denomination that we love so much, and our prophetic and faithful voices ARE making a difference.

And to all of you who are not Presbyterian and reading this.  Well . . . if you don’t yet have a faith community, check us out.  We might just surprise you!


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