General Assembly – Portland 2016 – Saturday

19 06 2016

The 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) began it’s week- long gathering this morning doing what it does best – preaching and proclaiming! Processing to “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty”, worship leaders rose in body and/or spirit to give praise to “the Hope in our calling.” That is, in fact, the theme of this assembly, and hope-filled messages where found lurking around every corner, all day!

Outgoing Moderator Heath Rada’s opening sermon from Genesis 45 was a reminder that reconciliation and forgiveness are at the heart of Joseph’s story, and that the waters of our baptism are continually cleansing and renewing the people of God. His charge was to ‘travel wet’ – constantly mindful of a love that never ends, and a hope that never disappoints.

After an afternoon of procedural business, the evening plenary session had a singular goal – the election of co-moderators! And as a member of National Capital Presbytery, I was proud to cast my vote for Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston. Both women displayed great charisma, leadership, and vision, and all without a hint of pride or pretense. Boldly proclaiming that Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life, these first co-moderators of our denomination have already begun breathing new life into the assembly and our church, and have filled many of us with great hope for the next two years.

Again and again, today’s messages challenged us all to see the movement of the Spirit in a denomination that too many have been led to believe is on the decline. While some members and congregations may have sensed a call to move on, we who remain are confident of the prophetic Word that we have been called to preach and live out in the world; and the sense of hope among the faithful remnant was palpable all day!  We are not interested in straying from God’s call to be spokespersons for justice,  nor to cease challenging the privileged and powerful, all the while avoiding the temptation to weaponize (Heath Rada’s term!) the Church’s doctrine or polity.

Sunday morning we will gather in churches around the Portland for Sabbath celebrations, and then prepare for two days of assembly committee meetings.

Today’s morning’s worship gathering ended with the assembly rocking out to Hillsong’s “Oceans” and the Newsboys’ “He reigns”! This beautiful gathering of Presbyterians, where the average age is well over my 55 years, belted out “Spirit lead me where my trust is without boundaries!” Hear that — “Trust, without boundaries!” That, friends, can only be the plea of a people, full of hope!



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