General Assembly #6 (and last)

General Assembly #6 (and last)

Dear Friends, Well it is the last full day of plenary. We began the business with some discussion around the order of the day.  Commissioner Bob Mitchell was persistent and effective in addressing our concerns! We did not finish the business of the Middle East and Peacemaking committee.  There was a motion to reconsider the actions around divestment form last night.  The motion failed. There as an extensive conversation around boycotting products including Ahava.  The motion passed with 71 per cent. There was Board of Pension committee discussion around relief of conscience by participants. It was recommended with comment but the Board of Pension has said it cannot imagine implementing this until it collects more data.  Later, Clerk Parsons declared it out of order and instructed that the standing rules needed to be set aside.  A 2/3 a vote was needed but not achieved so there will be no Board of Pensions relief around divestment. There was as you might imagine a lot of tension around civil union and marriage issues.  There was quite a bit of discussion around the authority of the Book of Confessions as part of the constitution.  There was a motion to overrule the moderator, which failed 70 per cent to 30 per cent. There was a motion to limit the discussion to 10 speakers from each side.  It did not pass.  We had a long, heated debate.  There was a minority report for no action on the redefinition of marriage but study that was narrowly defeated.  The second minority report asked that there be no study but rather conversation in the presbyteries and no...
General Assembly Update #5

General Assembly Update #5

Dear Friends,   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...
General Assembly Update #4

General Assembly Update #4

Dear Friends, I hope this finds you well and blessed and seeing God’s mercy.  It is the fourth of July and we just finished the fireworks show.  Now I am watching the lightning storm out my window… 272 lightning strikes in the last 10 minutes!  And the storm is getting closer.  For the California girl who isn’t used to weather, it’s exciting and a little unsettling.  It seems quite appropriate for the end of our first full day of plenary. Today’s business started with the resignation of the Vice-Moderator.  She said she wanted to be pastoral to the body because there was so much contention around her nomination.  She expressed her dismay and anger at the reaction and action of some of the body and their desire to take parliamentary measures to answer her nominations, even though the body elected her 60 per cent to 40 per cent.  While she was indeed properly elected, some wonder if it was appropriate to elect someone who had disregarded the constitution.  Regardless of what people thought about her decision to do this, the tensions in the room were high.  Consequently, Moderator Pressa named another Vice-Moderator candidate, the Reverend Tom Trinidad from Faith Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs.  The plenary elected Vice-Moderator Trinidad, who holds the same theological position as the previous Vice-Moderator. The new translation of the Heidelberg confession was approved with Scriptural references immediately following each question and answer.  It will need a 2/3 vote with the presbyteries to be included in the Book of Order.  There was a presentation from a German scholar in favor of the new translation.  The...
General Assembly Update #3

General Assembly Update #3

Dear Friends, It is very late and I am sitting in my hotel room watching the sky fill with flashes of lightning.  With every flash I am reminded that I am very far from home.  The wonderful news is that I am here with some great team members from our presbytery and I want to brag a little about them.  The Drurys are serving in the hospitality suite of the Coalition.   They feed commissioners, pray with them and make sure that they are an encouraging presence.  There is a big team from Merced, including Bill and Judie Pruitt, Cindy Brown, Jean Robbins and Karen Greene who are the unsung heroes, always faithfully and quietly working behind the scenes.  They make ministry happen.  Nancy Clegg, (stated clerk from Sacramento), and her husband, Jay, encourage people by their presence.  They support the Sacramento team and we are grateful they are here.  Bob Mitchell is a servant through and through.  He relates so well to people and did a spectacular job presenting one of your overtures.  We just didn’t have the votes.  Charlie Brown was so effective in the mid council committee.  I was blown away by his finesse in the committee.  He said the hard things that needed to be said but in a way that people could hear.  Ken Robbins is a brilliant mind- we all know that.  But what we might not all know is that he is so generous with his time and gifts as he helps resource many commissioners and committees.  Henry Greene is the calming presence that we all need in a difficult General Assembly.  And...
General Assembly Update #2

General Assembly Update #2

Dear Friends, I hope this finds you well and blessed and seeing God’s mercy.  We are in our last full day of committee discussions and there is indeed a lot of business at hand.  Yesterday was a very long day for many of us, so I would sure appreciate your prayers for our commissioners and team.  Please pray for these dear ones: Charlie and Cindy Brown, Henry and Karen Greene, Ken and Jean Robbins, Bill and Judie Truitt, Keith and Caroline Drury, Nancy and J.F. Clegg, Bob Mitchell, and me. One thing that I can tell you is that Gradye Parsons was elected to another four-year term as Stated Clerk of the denomination. No one stood as an alternative candidate. I will send an update from yesterday’s business but I am awaiting confirmation on a few committee details.  One significant thing I can report is that the Church Orders committee approved an overture from Sacramento Presbytery which states,“The 220th General Assembly (2012) acknowledges that faithful Presbyterians earnestly seeking to follow Jesus Christ hold different views about what the Scriptures teach concerning the morality of committed, same-gender relationships. Therefore, while holding persons in ordered ministry to high standards of covenant fidelity in the exercise of their sexuality, as in all aspects of life, we acknowledge that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) does not have one interpretation of Scripture in this matter. We commit ourselves to continue respectful dialogue with those who hold differing convictions, to welcome one another for God’s glory, and not to vilify those whose convictions we believe to be in error. We call on all Presbyterians to join...