It’s 2 am…I just got back to my hotel. If you would like to believe that General Assembly is all fine and dandy see part 1. If you want to know the truth, part 2
Everyone here gets along so well! We are all in complete agreement about topics such as Civil Union and Marriages, Church Orders and Ministry, and Middle East Peacemaking. There are NO jerks. And parliamentary procedure is used to guide conversation and not impede progress. Candy abounds at every desk and we have a dance party every half hour. Love abounds and when people are done debating there is a group hug. Everyone throws confetti in the air at the end of every decision and “We are the Champions” plays on the loudspeaker. God even stops by once in a while to let us know how great a job we’re doing.
I am so disillusioned with the Church. People here are, in my opinion, using their personal opinions/vendettas to slow progress and make pointed comments at each other. My “brothers and sisters in Christ” have, several times made pointed comments at me resulting in my tears or my anger. There is a feeling among the group that those who differ in opinion from them need saving. Need to hear the “truth” THEIR truth of God. I don’t feel like my voice or vote is of much importance in this group because no one LISTENS and there is, among some NOT all, a condescending attitude towards the advisory delegates. While I think General Assembly is something that our church could not function without, I am not seeing love as the biggest component here. I’m seeing judgment, fear and hatred. I’m sorry that I am writing out of such…sadness.
I will say a good part of my coming here is becoming firm in my beliefs and passions and being able to express myself and my passion in clear and honest ways. Also-my fellow commissioners from Maumee Valley Presbytery are WONDERFUL and have kept me sane today (as well as well fed).
I’m excited to go home tomorrow. I hope you all are having a good day. And I’m sorry if I was too blunt about my feelings.
Happy 4th of July!
It was a happy/unhappy 4th of July here at the General Assembly. Our Vice Moderator decided to resign due to some “splitting of the general assembly” over her previous action to sign a civil union of two women. I was very upset that she felt that she needed to do that, I really respected her. It led to a very tense plenary session. There is now a new Vice Moderator in place named Tom. He was on my committee and I really liked him. There was a vote (on whether to discuss what had happened with the previous vice moderator) that was split 49% and 49% (322 votes and 323 votes with a few absentions). Closest vote EVER. Lol. I expect that a lot of the votes these next few days will be similarly split.
And then we had fireworks! Yay! I just got back to my room and am curled up in bed trying not to think about how I have to wake up at 7.
So, long day. We finished all the suggestions in our committee for the wider assembly. I’m pretty happy with the suggestions made. I don’t think we are taking a step back in any way from what took place at the last assembly (thankfully). My low point today was when somebody addressed a comment I had made in committee in a very rude and uncalled for way. He replied with an extreme level of condescension and looked at me the whole time when you’re supposed to address the committee as a whole. Right after that, they called for a recess and I just burst into tears. However, my high point was my fellow committee members who came to my defense. No matter what “side” of the “issue” they were on, they assured me he was out of line and respected that I had spoke up. I really appreciated that.
After we finished all the items on the agenda, it was time for a good evening! I got to go back to my room and take a nap (thank the Lord) and then we went on a DINNER CRUISE of pittsburgh. It was awesome. And hilarious, I had a great time with my fellow YAAD’s.
And—in even more exciting news, I got to see my best friends from college! They’re all in Pittsburgh for a few days! They picked me up after the cruise and we went to Station Square (we wanted to go to the Hard Rock but it was closed) so we went to Bar Louie where I had GREAT wings and a yummy Mango Limeade. I just returned to my hotel where my awesome room mate is asleep and I’m about to go to bed as well.
Tomorrow—committee for some conversation time and then the real deal starts.
I hope all is going well in Good Ole’ Toledo!
Hey everyone. .
Rough day. Committees ALL day. To reiterate, I am in committee #7, Church Orders and Ministry. Basically, what we are discussing (very brief overview) is the ordination standards (10A) put in place last general assembly. We spoke for a while on some business, and then after lunch (I had an adventure I’ll relate to y’all when I’m back), we broke into small groups for discussion. It was an incredibly fruitful conversation but I did get pretty emotional. I am very…progressive? Liberal? I don’t know the word, on these issues and they are obviously very contentious ones. It was an exercise in my active listening skills as well as maintaining an open mind.
I am having trouble seeing God in a lot of this political stuff. It seems to get in the way of the substantive conversations and dialogue we could be having by using exclusive language that leaves everyone confused. I am sure there are plenty good reasons they have the system they have, but if people are nervous to speak up normally (y’all know I’m not) then they’re going to be even more timid or quiet when a bunch of roadblocks (rules, microphones) are in their way.
Anyways, another full day of committees tomorrow! And, if we get done in time, a riverboat dinner cruise
Third full day here in the great Pittsburgh. Myself and some fellow YAAD’s went to church this morning in the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh. It was BEAUTIFUL. Although, our sanctuary is not the only one that is HOT. Although, they handed out fans (hint hint). Afterwards we got lunch at DiBella’s Subs and then headed to Plenary at 2:00 for confirmation of election for Vice Moderator. We were just told an interesting statistic in a presentation about the Presbyterian Church’s Demographic. For every ONE worshipper in the Presbyterian church that is under the age of 25 there are SIX over the age of 65.
They are just talking about the New Beginnings Program! I’m sure this is something we’ve talked about…but it might be interesting to consider/reconsider a worship service to go along with the food pantry program. Having a dinner or something in the commons for those who are struggling in our community and having a worship service/community time together. I’m sure I am unaware of the roadblocks to such a thing but it would be awesome.
Later that night-
The day is now finished. I will be honest, I’m having a rough time. Surviving on not a lot of food, and not a lot of sleep has made me grouchy. First committee meeting went alright, getting up early for a day of committees tomorrow as well. I am going to go to bed!
Hey “yinz”! (pittsburghian for you all)
Another jam packed day! It began with my roommate and I, Hannah from Oregon, getting lost (but finding Starbucks) on the way to the convention center. I then went to a Riverside Conversation about the Nature of the Church in the 21st Century. After that, a group of YAADs and I decided to make our way to the “Strip” in Pittsburgh for food. We ate at a place called the Old Tyme Sandwich Shop (Tyme isn’t a typo, actual spelling). Then we rushed back for Opening Worship. Opening Worship was great! In a show of Solidarity with Cynthia Bolbauch there was a surprise time when a lot of people put green wigs on in the middle of worship (she is going through Chemo). There were SO MANY PRESBYTERIANS. The theme for this week is Walking, Running, Soaring in Hope. I thought this was a good theme because of all the controversy and conflict that is literally splitting churches as well as the larger church.
The first plenary session began with a video about the history of Presbyterians in Pittsburgh. AND, guess who showed up? Mr. McFeely from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood! SPEEDY DELIVERY! Needless to say, I was excited. I spoke to some people about this awesome program called Young Adult Volunteer. It seems like a fabulous opportunity, I think I will keep it on my radar for after college.
AND THEN. We chose our moderator. It took four times to finally get a majority, but it happened. Running was Randy Branson, Neal Presa, Sue Krummel, and Robert Austell. Neal Presa is the Moderator of the General Assembly 2012.
Some things I’ve been thinking about when it comes to our church:
1) How do we use the wonderful talents that people in our church have without them getting burned out?
2) What are we, as a church, passionate about? What is our role in our community?
I in no way have answers to these but they have been rolling around in my mind. I think it is easy for us to get stuck in what we are used to as well as our routine, but I also think to change some of the issues we are having with retention of members, we need to adopt some amount of fluidity. Just some things I’ve been thinking about! Let me know what you think
Good night all!
It's the end of my first full day here in Pittsburgh. It has been a long but great day (I feel like that will be the general description of my week--long, exhausting, but good). We all had breakfast at the hotel and then we went into orientation. After some time spent there going over some logistics, we all went to our home groups. Which are groups of like 30-40 kids in different committees. I am serving on Committee 7, Church Orders and Ministry. Anyways, we did some icebreakers and shared our faith stories in small groups. Then...it was time for skit planning! Which was a blast. The rest of the day was spent in orientation type settings. I haven't stepped outside today, unfortunately.
The music here has been very good. I really loved the hymn Come Thy Fount of Every Blessing. It will be played at Fairgreen here soon. There was another good one called Canticle of the Turning. I led the call to worship at evening worship tonight. The people here are great although I do see some butting of heads in the future when we begin to wrestly with the "hot topics."
We also had the exciting opportunity of meeting and engaging the candidates for Moderator and Vice Moderator, as well as electing our own Co-Moderators (one boy and one girl). I definitely have someone in mind to vote for when it comes to Moderator, but we shall see how it turns out! They are all extremely qualified and passionate, I think it'd be difficult to go wrong there. Our Co-Mods are a girl name Kara and a guy named Brandt. They are both wonderful people and I'm excited to serve with them this week.
Now, don't think they're working me TOO hard, there was some time for ENERGIZERS (which I've been helping to lead) as well as Euchre, Speed, ERS, and Spoons (all card games). There is also rumors of a hide and seek game at some point this week. I'm sure our fellows at this hotel will love that. Hahah.
I begin tomorrow with Riverside Conversations, and later tomorrow we have our first Plenary gathering! Exciting beginning to the week.
I hope everything is going fabulously in good ole' Toledo.