General Assembly Update for Saturday (From Rev. Nancy Clegg, Stated Clerk)

More Headline News from General Assembly I have sent to the presbytery the letter from the Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons and the Moderator of the General Assembly Heath Rada, and the Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Linda Valentine regarding the vote of the assembly on marriage.  I am attaching the results of the other headline news regarding the assembly’s action on divestment in an effort to speak to the continuing conflict in Israel and Palestine.  It is interesting to me to observe at this assembly the more divided and debated issues were about Middle East issues and environmental issues than about changing the definition of marriage.  I don’t know fully what that means other than one observation that the church reflects the culture of which we are a part. In a way that is a good thing.  The church has to relate to the present and everyday culture (think “seeker sensitive” worship, and listening to the voices of the young adults who seek a place in a church that is not outdated or has no relevance with their life).  In another way the church needs to stand apart and sometimes against the cultural norms and values that are contrary to scripture and the witness of Christ; such as peacemaking, food sovereignty, equitable resources, and human dignity. How did we do at General Assembly?  We addressed a lot of social issues to make a witness to our faith in a loving and forgiving, challenging and renewing God.  We held up the authority of the Word of God in all our deliberations, focused on our calling as baptized children of God called by our Lord, and...

General Assembly Update for Thursday (From Rev. Wendy Warner)

I realize, dear friends, that I have failed to tell you of the theme of this General Assembly, and that is “Abounding in Hope”.  This theme of HOPE is being played out in so many ways, even in the midst of decisions which will bring joy to some and distress to others.   You have, by this time, received the letter regarding the vote on civil unions and marriage sent to you from our Stated Clerk, Gradye Parsons and Moderator Heath Rada.  I want to emphasize one point which may not be clear, and that is that Teaching Elders have the option to choose whether or not to perform any marriage, to be guided by their conscience alone.  In like manner, each session is completely free to choose how the facilities of their congregation are to be used. With that said my personal prayer is that our Presbytery will take the time and invest the energy in opportunities to have prayer and study surrounding this issue. But important as that item of business was it was not all that took place on Thursday.  For each item of business brought before the Assembly, financial implications must be reported.  Each day there is a report made of the effect that all actions approved the previous day will have on the per capita rate for the future. From the Mission Coordination Committee, items voted upon dealt with equal employment opportunities, concern for racial ethnic schools, decision to divest from for-profit prisons, and a new division for the Peacemaking Offering to be 50% to GA mission, 25% to Presbytery mission efforts, and 25% for...

General Assembly Update for Wednesday (from Rev. Nancy Clegg, Stated Clerk)

The committees have completed their work.  The business of the General Assembly Plenary has begun.  And for the first time a consent agenda has been voted; based upon recommendations from committees with a super majority (75%) approval.  Over 130 items of business were approved with a single vote!  Our commissioners have been working hard in their committees, and now sit at their assigned seat in the plenary hall – discerning, reviewing, and voting on all the reports and recommendations of theirs and other committee’s motions with a simple majority vote.  The exhibit hall also closed last night as the business is now focused on plenary business and worship.  Wendy and I had the opportunity to gather with the staff of the 1001 Worshiping Communities (part of Church Growth and Evangelism) to gather resource advice for developing new ministries and growing new churches in innovative and creative ways. We also attended a conversation with staff and others who serve or resource Committees on Ministries.  I have attended mission luncheons, the last one on a new initiative to combat poverty at home and around the world with education.  As plenary business is our primary work now, Moderator Heath Rada and Vice Moderator Larissa Kwong Abazia are competent and engaging leadership for our plenary business. For those who are observers or not serving as commissioners or advisory delegates or not in a capacity that requires their regular attendance at plenary meetings, there are mission tours available hosted by the Committee on Local Arrangements.  From a trip to the zoo or a river boat dinner cruise; to a tour of the Henry Ford Museum or a night at the Detroit Tigers’ ballgame;...

General Assembly Update for Tuesday (from Emmett Kennedy, YAD)

On Tuesday my roommate and I had to struggle to find our own breakfast, since there wasn’t a group breakfast that day we could so easily attend. After dining on a hearty fast food breakfast we had proceeded to our committee meeting. Though our meeting was at 9:30 am we were still extremely exhausted due to the time difference. Even through my exhaustion we still managed to attend our meeting, though the meeting wasn’t, exactly the most exciting part of my day it was the most productive. We had learned and voted on numerous overtures, having to do with the fate of missions specifically. We first had numerous speakers come forward to educate us on the overture, and then we had asked questions, and after everyone was clear of the negative outcomes, as well as the positive wee then had to vote. We had few overtures that were unanimous and few that took large amounts of time, and even some we had to put off until after dinner. At the end of it all, our committee had learned allot about each other and out overtures. After my committee had finished I had spare time before going to bed, so I had decided to experience downtown Detroit first hand, after dropping my laptop at my hotel room I had taken to the streets for a lengthy stroll. I stopped for dinner in a local pizza restaurant,  then took to the streets to continue my walk, when I had come across some locals skateboarding the monuments a tourist would have normally been taking pictures of, I decided to stop and watch...

General Assembly Update for Monday (from Rev. Nancy Clegg, Stated Clerk)

General Assembly News from the Stated Clerk When I go on a retreat it is usually a two-night, two-day event; a speaker, 20-40 people, lodging and shared meals.  When I attend a conference it may extend to three nights and three days; several speakers, workshops, 50-100 (sometimes more) attendees, lodging and shared meals.  When the General Assembly meets nothing compares.  Eight nights, seven days, many presenters and presentations, over 1,000 people in attendance from all over the country and serving in many diverse ways in the life of the church, many hotels to host all the out-of-towners, and meals shared among voting commissioners, or at restaurants with long-time and new-made friends, or at a deli on the run, or at coffee shops.  Then add another component unlike other retreats and conferences:  committee work. The committees have just had their first full day of presentations and addressing the overtures from presbyteries.  The Stated Clerk of the General Assembly recommended fourteen committees; each one is lead by a moderator and vice-moderator who are commissioners to the assembly chosen by the Moderator of the previous General Assembly, the Stated Clerk appointed committee assistants, parliamentarian, resource coordinator, and recorder.  Our two voting commissioners were randomly assigned to the two committees that will be the most closely watched and reported upon committees at this assembly.  Ruling Elder Bob Opie is serving on Middle East Issues and Teaching Elder Clover Bailey is serving on Civil Union and Marriage Issues.  It is expected that these committees will have long hours of deliberation, discernment, and debate before presenting their report and recommendations before the whole assembly beginning Wednesday.  Our Young Adult Advisory Delegate, Emmett Kennedy, has an...