Dear Friends in Ministry,
Greetings from Portland and the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. The city is beautiful and so far the weather has been fair. The General Assembly has been described as a big family reunion, and I am certainly greeting many long-time friends, some I have not seen since my seminary years.
For the first time, the Assembly elected co-moderators, Jan Edmiston, a presbytery executive from Chicago, and Denise Anderson of National Capital Presbytery. Reflecting on the visit of past moderator, the Rev. Heath Rada as he made his last presbytery visit in Caledonia, MO, I anticipate that sharing the position will enable Jan and Denise to balance their ministry as moderators with more time for family, rest, and recreation.
On Sunday commissioners and others of us attending the assembly worshiped in churches across the Presbytery. I chose to walk to worship at near Westminster Presbyterian Church to experience an inspiring service and lunch prepared by those experiencing homelessness. People living on the streets and asking for hand-outs are very visible here in Portland, a beautiful place where the weather is moderate most of the time. Encountering so many youth and young adults living on the streets is heart-breaking.
Portland is one of the “whitest” cities in the U.S., but the Presbyterians are bringing diversity at least in the days we are here. Yesterday Erin Counihan and I spent several hours waiting to “advocate” for the overture Giddings-Lovejoy sent and one that John Knox sent with which we as a Presbytery concurred. The G.A. Social Justice Committee made a few changes to our overture which differed from that of overtures on race from other presbyteries, in that the Giddings-Lovejoy overture focuses on social justice reform (policing, justice system, etc.) in our communities. The other overtures emphasize working within ourselves and our churches, raising awareness and building capacity for “being” the world we want to see. Witnessing the sincere and dedicated work of committees to encourage a church and world that reflects the love, justice and peace God intends is inspiring.
Please pray for our commissioners as they spend long days in meetings. Also pray for our Committee on Local Arrangements as they go back-stage to become informed about the hosting of General Assembly. As I move around the Assembly, those that ask if we are ready to host the next GA. I respond that Giddings-Lovejoy is not ready yet, but we will be!
Yours in Christ,