By Ed Thompson
Presbytery of West Virginia
Friday was a travel day for most of the commissioners and visitors to the 223rd General Assembly. Some arrived in St. Louis on Thursday, including our Young Adult Advisory Delegate Paul Brady, although I understand he encountered some travel delays because of bad weather.
Maureen Wright, Randy Fife and I drove out from Charleston today (Friday), encountering only minor delays along the way. We arrived here shortly before 4 p.m., when Maureen and I had an orientation meeting to prepare us to serve as Floor Parliamentarians during the assembly. That means we will be working the microphones during the plenary sessions so that commissioners can speak, make motions, ask questions and engage in debate.
Officially, the General Assembly convenes tomorrow with worship at 11 a.m. If you want to watch this or any of the other plenary sessions or worship services you can find out how to do that on the official General Assembly website: https://ga-pcusa.org/. There you can also sign up to receive the GA 223 newsletter so that you can get the same news and information as the people in the convention hall. I’ll also plan to provide a summary of the day’s events and a preview of what’s coming up the next day for you as I have in the past. I’ll do that each night, and Amy Robinson will send it out to you each morning.
Another highlight of tomorrow’s meeting will be the election of the moderator. There are two teams of co-moderator candidates. One is Teaching Elder Eliana Maxim from the Presbytery of Seattle and Teaching Elder Bertram Johnson from the Presbytery of New York City. The other is Teaching Elder Cindy Kohlmann from the Presbytery of Boston and Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintron-Oliveri from the Presbytery of Tropical Florida. Ruling Elder Chantal Atnip from the Presbytery of Carlisle (who serves as the treasurer of our Synod) is also standing for moderator along with Teaching Elder Ken Hockenberry from the Presbytery of Chicago who would be the vice moderator. Commissioners had the opportunity to meet and talk with all six of these folks at an opening reception this evening. There will be a similar event tomorrow morning. The election will be held tomorrow (Saturday) evening during the 2nd plenary session.
The first plenary session will be Saturday afternoon, which will give commissioners an introduction to the week ahead, including an explanation of how voting works and other procedural matters.
In the morning there is a breakfast sponsored by Presbyterians for Middle East Peace, a group that tries to create a middle ground in the PC(USA) that holds both the Israeli and Palestinian governments accountable for their actions and another breakfast for “Youngish Mid-Council Leaders.” It has been suggested that I no longer qualify for this event. That’s probably true, so I guess I can sleep in. I do want to hear Liz Theoharis, the author of Always With Us? What Jesus Really Said About the Poor. She will be speaking at a Pre-Assembly gathering starting at 9:00 AM. Our current co-moderators had recommended that Presbyterians study her book, which we’ve been using g in our presbytery staff meetings. Although I don’t always agree with her, what she says makes me think and often makes me uncomfortable. I look forward to hearing what she has to say.
One last thing, which should not be surprising to those who know me: Tonight four of us went to see the Chicago Cubs play the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs won in a rout 13-5. There were lots of home runs and a surprising – to me – number of Chicago fans at the game. I could say the fun is now over and the work is about to start, but I’m looking forward to the week ahead and seeing how God is and will be working in the Presbyterian Church.