Life at General Assembly is full, busy, and tiring. There is a lot of sitting and listening and thinking and a lot of parliamentary procedure to keep straight. Sunday evening and all day Monday and Tuesday were spent in committee meetings–I was assigned to the Social Justice Committee. Our charge was to consider matters related to the concerns of church in national affairs, national military matters, and matters relating to righteousness and justice of persons/organizations. We were referred 21 items of business, which was a heavy load.
The subject matter ranged from racism to human trafficking to the war on drugs to the doctrine of discovery to apologies to Native Americans and LGBTQ people (the overture that Albany Presbytery declined to concur with at the April Presbytery meeting.) It was really eye-opening to see the depth and breadth of the church ’s social witness. Though my usual orientation is toward congregational mission and witness, I can see that even though the cultural influence the mainline church has is far less than in the 20th century and before, there is still a need to do some of this kind of work at a national level, particularly when it comes to providing resources for congregations that they can use for education and interpretation in their own churches and communities.
As far as the Apology Overture, business item 11-05, the Committee recommended an alternate resolution to the original overture language which many judged to be too harsh, mistimed, and also inappropriate given that, as one of our resources said, “as far as our denomination is concerned, it is equally faithful to proclaim that God calls Christians to sexual relationship in the context of the marriage of a man and a woman or to proclaim that God calls Christians to sexual relationship in the context of the marriage of two people, regardless of their gender.”
The alternate the full General Assembly considered can be found here: https://www.pc-biz.org/#/search/6335. The Assembly took action on the overture at about 11:00 pm Thursday night (PDT). After a bunch of confusing parliamentary procedure, the Assembly passed the alternate resolution recommended by the committee. It was a hard discussion for all and the final outcome was truly the will and voice of our church. It may not seem like enough for some, and for others it may go too far, but the Assembly approved it 463-51 : 90% in favor.
You can read more about this decision in the Presbyterian Outlook article: Bridge-building work on LGBTQ/Q outreach resonates with General Assembly
If you are interested in following along as the Assembly deliberates, visit http://oga.pcusa.org/section/ga/222nd-general-assembly-2016/ for the live feed that will be running when the Assembly is in session. And whether or not you watch, please pray that we will listen well to each other, work diligently, faithfully, and lovingly, and that all our work will be to God’s glory.
Lynn’s home church is St. Peter’s in Spencertown, NY. At General Assembly 222, she is serving on the Social Justice Committee. While in Portland, Lynn is enjoying being part of our larger church at work. Self-professed “Presby-nerd” Lynn says she just loves “the whole scene!” “The Holy Spirit really does show up and it is awesome to be part of it.” You can “Follow” her on Twitter: @LynnBrown2763
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 council. Exceptions to this policy may be brought to the presbytery officers who will determine appropriateness of submissions.