Wednesday Blog – June 20th, 2018

Here we are at the middle of the week and the midpoint in our General Assembly (GA) schedule.  We began on Saturday with an awesome worship service. On Sunday we had the opportunity to attend Sunday worship at a local area church. Charlotte, Bill, and I went to First Presbyterian Church in Kirkwood, MO, a larger suburb west of downtown St. Louis. We were greeted by a beautiful set of stained glass windows that completely filled the back wall of the chancel. The 65 member choir and the five piece brass quintet provided a  musical experience that was unbelievably stirring. After a wonderful luncheon hosted by the church we returned to downtown St. Louis.

Committee Work

Monday and Tuesday have been devoted to committee work. Overtures submitted for action by presbyteries, agencies, or individuals, have been divided up between fourteen committees. The committee charge was to discuss the overtures and amend where appropriate, then Approve or Disapprove and forward our recommendation to the whole General Assembly. I was assigned to the Committee on Middle East Issues. We discussed overtures that addressed the relationships and conflicts between Israel and Palestine. This included resolutions on the killing in Gaza, the potential use of sanctions and other actions that would encourage the parties to find a path to peace.  There was much spirited discussion. The members of my committee seemed to share a common desire to find a reasonable path for the PC(USA) to take in resolving these issues. Our Overtures that were forwarded to the GA were approved by almost unanimous votes of the committee.

Plenary Meetings

Now it is Wednesday and we are beginning our plenary meetings. This is when the whole of the General Assembly will consider those Overtures that have been forwarded by the Committees. We are back to debating, and amending, and approving substitute motions. We try to find language that will most clearly define our ministry moving forward. We have come to find that words do matter. Most often debates will center around the addition of a word that is meant to provide greater clarity or specificity to a statement. Too often the additional word only serves to confuse. Of course the motion and the subsequent debate leads to greater confusion. Someone once said that “Robert’s Rules Of Order” were written down to help govern a formal  debate and voting. To me “Robert’s Rules” only muddies the water. Thursday is more GA plenary meetings, six more hours of sitting, and listening, and voting. It might seem a little boring but the debates and all the parliamentary procedure can be fascinating. Also, interspersed with the discussions is worship and singing.

Experience Beyond GA Responsibilities

One of the highlights of GA is meeting old friends and the making of new ones. I have had a chance to catch up with several old friends from the Silver Bay Presbyterian Youth Conference. Some of my minister friends who have moved on to new calls have also been to GA. I have met minister and ruling elder commissioners from all over the country and the world. I am sure that our paths will cross again.

General Assembly is a wonderful experience that every Presbyterian should have at least once in their life. I have been blessed to attend two (I was a Theological Student Advisory Delegate in 2000 at Long Beach, CA.) I find the second time around even more exciting and rewarding. I thank Presbytery of Albany for the opportunity to be your Minister Commissioner to the 223rd General Assembly.

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About Rev. Larry Greenwold

Rev. Larry Greenwold has been Stated-Supply at Tribes Hill Presbyterian Church for seven years. He has recently been named Stated Supply at United Presbyterian Church in Amsterdam in addition to Tribes Hill. He graduated from Union Seminary in New York City in 2001 and was ordained here in Albany Presbytery that same year. Prior to his service at Tribes Hill he served Jermain Presbyterian in Watervliet and as Interim Minister at Valatie. Throughout his seventeen years in the Presbytery he has been active in several committees. He is currently chairing the Committee for Church Development and Vitality and has recently been elected as a Commissioner to Assembly of the Synod of the Northeast from Albany Presbytery. Larry and his wife Kathie live in Niskayuna, NY.

The purpose of the Albany Presbytery Blog is to share information, tell stories, and promote the mission and ministry of the presbytery, synod and beyond. While the breadth of this medium is intentionally broad, it is not a platform for opinion pieces related to business coming before the presbytery unless designed as part of an initiative to provide a diversity of viewpoints at the direction of the presbytery. Exceptions to this policy may be brought to the presbytery officers who will determine appropriateness of submissions.