Monday, June 20, 2016
Kielbasa, Jimmy Dean, Smoked...
It's obvious that some of that group-building has payed off in my observations of the committees today. Some are starting to hit the deep end this evening, others anticipate the most difficult work tomorrow. But in all cases, GA committees are where the sausage gets made. Unless you're making it, you probably wouldn't want to see it till it's served up.
I'm happy to report on one slice of the sausage: the Confession of Belhar, which we have been considering adding to our Book of Confessions for - what, five years now? - passed by such a wide margin that it's going to come to the floor of the Assembly as part of the consent agenda! Praise be. The addition of this confession to our canon of faith statements is the first from the southern hemisphere. Coming out of South Africa, you can imagine that it takes a strong stand against apartheid, which translates well into the ongoing racial tensions in our own society. It is a powerful statement, and if you've not read it yet, I commend it to you and your congregation.
The "consent agenda" was first tried by GA two years ago. They decided to try putting items that passed by handy margins into one item to be passed quickly by the body. Of course, any commissioner has the right to request that one item or the other be pulled off for consideration, but otherwise, it's a great way to zip through business that presumably most folks would vote to pass.
Another "slice of the sausage" came this afternoon from the Church Polity committee. They deliberated on an overture from my former presbytery on whether to change the nomenclature for Teaching Elders back to Ministers of Word and Sacrament. The committee also deliberated on the proper title to give Commissioned Ruling Elders, and they are recommending instead "Commissioned Pastors." These changes passed committee 56-3, so I am presuming they will also go to the floor via consent agenda. But you never know. Stay tuned.
And now for something completely different. Mainly today I trolled around to see our commissioners in action. I got to see Geoff Leech (and my baby boy Alex) at work in the Middle East Issues committee. The magic mirror spied Carol Rahn in the Church Polity and Ordered Ministry committee. Anne Felts was considering the business of the Immigration/Environmental committee when I dropped in on her. Josh Robinson was deep in thought at The Way Forward committee. And while I didn't exactly get to see Amy Meyer in action in the Theological Education/Institutions committee, I did get to take her an afternoon cup of coffee. I've also had sightings of Kris Bair from the Alice church, Michelle Vetters from St. Andrew's in San Antonio, Kyle Walker from Faith in Austin, and even Ruben Armendariz! I suspect I'll see many more tomorrow evening when we gather for a party to celebrate the ministries of Ruben and of Mike Cole from New Covenant Presbytery.
And, sigh - I got to see Kelly Allen today. Today is World Refugee Day, and Kelly was scheduled to
Kelly was also honored last night at the More Light Presbyterians with the Rev. David Sindt Award, "in honor of her dedication to justice and inclusion" and "for her long-standing and faithful witness to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender welcome." And it is my understanding that she will be remembered on the floor of the Assembly in the next plenary session on Wednesday. Thanks be to God - not only for Kelly's life, but for the impact her life and ministry had on so very many people outside the bounds of Mission Presbytery.
I will be spending most of tomorrow in the Mid Councils committee. They will be considering a report from all 16 of our synods, and also another overture asking that the requirement to reduce the number of synods (from the 221st GA in 2014) be rescinded. I'm advocating for that overture in the morning, and then the committee will take actions to wrap up its sausage-making in the afternoon. As will all of the committees. We will see what comes out of this time!