I have the joy of being elected as a delegate to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) meeting this month (June 15-23) in St. Louis, Missouri. For those of you who don’t remember your Presbyterian polity (which I cannot imagine would be any of you!), the General Assembly (GA) is a national gathering of Presbyterians from all over the country coming together every two years to vote on overtures (motions or proposals) from Presbyteries (the local judicatory of the church). I have been elected as a Teaching Elder (Minister) along with a Ruling Elder (Lay person) to represent the Des Moines Presbytery (about 54 churches in our area) at this Assembly. There will be a Pop Quiz this Sunday!
Now many of you have heard me say that my definition of Hell is a Presbytery meeting that never ends. You may be wondering why I might actually be excited to go to GA particularly as a delegate who will be meeting every day (for about 10-12 hours a day) discussing the work of the church. I am not a Presbyterian Polity Geek (Yes, they do exist in the church, and I even claim some of them as friends) as I barely passed my Polity ordination exam. What excites me is the synergy of gathering hundreds of committed Presbyterians together to worship, discuss, debate, pray, study, and vote together. Somehow, I think the Holy Spirit shows up in the midst of it all.
Some of the overtures coming to the GA are mundane but important. There is an overture to examine our practice of per capita as a source of funding for the church (I swear I had this idea years ago); there are a number of overtures to include Family leave in Terms of Call for Pastors; overtures to redraw boundaries in Synods; and an overture to change some of our national leadership structures. Exciting stuff, right?
Yet there are other overtures wrestling with the many issues in our society. There are overtures concerning immigration and refugees; overtures addressing the conflicts in the Middle East; overtures around gender identity; overtures speaking to gun violence; and a large number of overtures wrestling with racism and becoming a “Transformative Church in this Intercultural Era.” This is fun stuff!
In many ways, Heartland Church is giving my time and energy as part of your stewardship to the larger church. I hope that I will be able to periodically post to our website (we will see how much time I have) my experiences at this GA so that you can glimpse the larger church at work. It actually may make you quite proud (but not sinfully so) of our church. And there will be a Pop Quiz when I get back.
Grace and Peace,