As a first time attendee (Observer) of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, I have been moved by this experience. It was made very clear here that we are a connectional Church! I met Presbyterians from all over the country, including teaching elders, ruling elders, national staff, and Synod and Presbytery representatives. The young adult presence here at the Assembly was impressive. I was also moved by the number of other faith communities present and participating in the Assembly from all around the world, as witness to the PC(USA) commitment to ecumenism.
“Renewing the Vision: Kindom Building for the 21st Century”
The theme here is promoting the kingdom of God and the kin-dom of God on Earth in the 21st century. This was evidenced by the agenda of the Assembly, the overtures being considered, the programs and Bible studies, and the Worship services. The overtures included:
- Environment issues, particularly climate change;
- Social Justice, including racism, gun violence, and policies/practices of full inclusion for all persons;
- Way Forward, meaning future priorities/direction of the PC(USA) in the 21st century;
- Middle East issues;
- Peacemaking and Immigration issues;
- Ecumenical and Interfaith issues,
- Mission issues; etc.
Business at General Assembly
I found the overtures that the committees reviewed, acted on, and then presented to the Assembly, to be the major issues facing society and the Church in the 21st century and very consistent with the theme of the Assembly. I was proud to be a Presbyterian for the manner in which the Assembly acted on the important issues before it.
The Assembly was very mindful of our being disciples of Jesus Christ, and that was evident by the prayer and the very meaningful Worship services held each day throughout committee meetings and the plenary sessions of the Assembly.
I was impressed by the respect and the order maintained throughout the Assembly, given there were 538 commissioners and 172 advisory delegates that acted on all the business before the Assembly.
Friday Group Buffet Lunch at General Assembly! 2,300 people here at GA, including commissioners, advisor delegates, observers, and other interested persons.
“Hands and Feet”
A new initiative, “Hands and Feet”, happened at this Assembly whereby the Presbyterian Church here in St. Louis and from elsewhere came in large numbers prior to the Assembly gathering to work with existing agencies and groups on community improvement projects. This will also happen at the next Assembly planned for 2020 in Baltimore. Also, a large number of people from this Assembly led by the GA Stated Clerk marched to the St. Louis Courthouse with a $47,000 check to bail out prisoners without sufficient funds to post bail. This money came from the offering received at the opening worship service.
Be Encouraged! The Church is Alive!
I came away convinced and, at the same time, hopeful that the Spirit of God is active in the Presbyterian Church. It was said many times here, and supported by examples, that the Presbyterian Church is very alive. We learned how churches are successfully responding to the Call of God in this time.
Read All Blogs Written by Albany Presbytery Representatives during #GA223:
- #GA223: Proposed Changes to the Rules of Discipline by Dan Rogers
- #GA223: Ah, Yes – Committee Work!! by Laura Rogers
- #GA223: Reflections from a YAAD by Maxine Quaye
- #GA223: Reflections by Larry Greenwold
- #GA223: Reflections by Charlotte Hasselbarth
- #GA223: The Church is Alive! by Bill Hasselbarth
Bill is a Ruling Elder at Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church (HUPC), Guilderland, NY and has been a member since 1981. He currently serves as HUPC Corporation President, Member of Session, and Chair of Administration & Finance Committee. Bill worked as the Chief Financial Officer of Albany Medical Center from 1998-2016. He and his wife is Charlotte are the proud parents of Carl Hasselbarth JD and the Rev. Lynn Horan, MDiv.