We had a great worship service today. We were all blessed with a hand bell performance by one gifted woman. It was encouraging and nice to have a brief respite to refresh our spirit. The Reverend James Kim gave a faithful sermon that set the tone. He said at one point that the PC (USA) should try to be more like Jesus Christ. Amen to that.
The mid council report was presented and plenary referred items 1-4 (which are all around synods) to a task force. There was a motion to refer Recommendation #6, considering non-geographic presbyteries. It was defeated 60 per cent to 39 per cent. Recommendation #6 to experiment with non-geographic presbyteries was defeated.
The polity report went much as we expected. There was a lengthy discussion around property matters, with regards to congregations leaving the denomination. After a brief pause in order to facilitate the ACC preparing comment, the motion around property was declared out of order. During the discussion around GAPJC rulings, Commissioner Greg Roth, from Centerville Presbyterian Church in Fremont, questioned the protocol for appeal when a presbytery does not heed the direction of the GAPJC. He was referring to the case against Jane Spahr where Redwoods Presbytery did not issue the rebuke ordered. His point was that there was a stark contrast between the discussion of polity regarding property and polity regarding GAPJC decisions. The moderator and the committee chair had no answer.
There was a very lengthy discussion around social justice issues, including spanking. When we had the discussion around board of pension relief of conscience medical plan around the issue of abortion, it was defeated 70 per cent to 28 per cent. There was a motion to initiate conversations with EPC, EC and other possible partners about sharing a benefits plan. It was passed 50 per cent to 49 per cent- for the conversation to explore. Our overture for relief of conscience for same gender domestic partner benefits was denied 79 per cent to 20 per cent.
Nearly five hours late, we began the work of the Middle East and Peace Making committee. The first overture addressed was to acknowledge the church’s support of a peaceful, diplomatic means to resolve the tensions developing as a result of Iran’s nuclear program between the United States and Iran and neighbors. It also opposes preemptive military action by any nation against Iran and Iran against any nation. It passed with 80 per cent. There was an extensive presentation on the Mission Responsibility Through Investment report advocating divestment. Committee Moderator Jack Bacca gave some foundational statements acknowledging the tensions around these decisions and reiterating their desires for both the Israelis and Palestinians. Divestment from Hewlett Packard, Motorola and Caterpillar stocks would represent less than a tenth of a per cent of the portfolio of the PC (USA). There was also a minority report presented which instructs the GAMC to raise funds to invest in the West Bank by the 221st General Assembly. The minority report replaced the MRTI report (333 votes 331). The General Assembly voted (369-290) to not divest but rather to invest in the West Bank.
Well I think that is about it. Tomorrow will surely be a full and emotional day. Please keep all of us in your prayers. God is so good.
In His Grip,