Category Archives: Live Blogging

Live Blog – Saturday Morning Closing Session Of The PC(USA) General Assembly

Good Morning! We are back at it for the conclusion of the 222nd General Assembly today. It is a bright and clear day in Portland.

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It has been a good visit to Portland and a pretty good meeting. But time to go home today. I did get one important item checked off my bucket list – I got a Voodoo Donuts maple bacon bar, thanks to my EP.

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So here is the game plan…

For the Assembly this morning I will be live blogging through the end of business and will conclude the live blog for the whole assembly as we begin closing worship.

Later this evening I plan to post my usual one-page summary of the actions of the GA. That should be available by 10 PM tonight.

And over the next few weeks I will do a few wrap-up and reflection pieces as time and family commitments allow.

But for now – let’s get to today’s business.

Live Blog – Friday Evening Session Of The 222nd General Assembly Of The PC(USA)

Good evening folks. It is Friday evening at the PC(USA) General Assembly. This is the session that goes along with the joke about the ’60’s – If you remember it you are lying.

Here is the lay of the land..

  • We are in the middle of an item with a minority report
  • The afternoon session was arrested with that item and two more items from Middle East Issues to be acted upon.
  • We still have the Immigration and Environmental Issues Committee moved from the afternoon.
  • And Peacemaking and International Issues was already docketed for tonight.
  • And there is coffee provided by the Foundation and the Board of Pensions (and maybe another agency).
  • The trains stop running between 11:30 and 12:30 depending which line you need

So remember – there is no tomorrow. (Well, technically there is but it is so closely docketed that nothing from tonight can be carried over.)

If we get close to drop-dead and there is still lots to do there are a couple alternatives. The Assembly could do what the 209th did at 2 AM and refer any unfinished business to the next Assembly. (They had the advantage it was still annual assemblies.) Or call on the Rev. Browning to describe the Church of Scotland’s Time Bound policy. It is affectionately known as the Guillotine and has the effect that you envision – It gets everything wrapped up quickly.

So hang on, get your caffeine ready and here we go…

Well, we finished before 11 PM. It was later last night.
We are in recess until 9 AM. No more posts from me tonight but maybe something in the morning before final business begins.

Live Blog – Thursday Evening Session Of The 222nd General Assembly Of The PC(USA)

And we are back with lots to do this evening. Word on the street is this will either go really fast or really slow. The concern is that Committee 4 – The Way Forward is reporting this evening.

And away we go…

Too late for anything else tonight, so…
Thank’s all folks!

Live Blog – Thursday Morning Session Of The 222nd General Assembly Of The PC(USA)

And we are back on a misty and drizzly Portland morning. It has been so bright and sunny outside (not that we would know) it somehow feels right to have a morning like this

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And so, as the house band warms us up with “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” be get ready to blog

Following worship we are in recess until 1:30 PM

Live Blog – Wednesday Evening Session Of The 222nd General Assembly Of The PC(USA)

And we are back from dinner at the PC(USA) General Assembly. The band is warming up, and warming us up.

Just a reminder, we have an arrested report and a tribute to Gradye Parsons coming up.

So here we go…

That is it for the Assembly session. Hang on because I have to more items to post tonight.

Live Blog – Wednesday Afternoon Session Of The 222nd General Assembly Of The PC(USA)

So here we are again! Back in the Assembly hall for the start of the Plenary half of the meeting.

To watch the live stream check out the GA 222 Web Page.

As a reminder I will be putting my emphasis on Live Blogging the session. I will be doing some broad tweeting at @ga_junkie and more focused tweets at @gajunkie (no underscore).

For good Twitter streams check out @L3_UMD for the play-by-play and @jodicraiglow for color commentary with a bit of wit.

So here is the live blog app

The Assembly is in recess until 7 PM this evening.

Live Blog – Sunday Afternoon Session At 222nd General Assembly Of The PC(USA)

As we gather in the Assembly Hall for the Sunday afternoon session, the house band is once again warming us up with spiritual singing.

This is usually a fairly low key session so I will try the live blog software again in another configuration. As before if it has problems, we go back to the old way. So here it goes…

That’s a wrap.

It seemed to work so we will try it again later in the week.

Election Of The Co-Moderators Of The 222nd General Assembly Of The PC(USA) – Live Blogging

Good evening. I am comfortably seated in the press section and the house band is getting rolling and encouraging us to sing. Launching into Soon and Very Soon now.

The live blog system I was using had technical issues that may be related to the WiFi system here. Not sure but not troubleshooting for this particular session. So, sorry, but please hit refresh to stay current.

Opening Presentation

7:04 PM – And we come to order. Don Shaw and Linda-Jackson Shaw open us with their story about their work in creating diversity and racial justice. They read from a bit of the Confession of 67 (first appearance in business sessions of that) and conclude with the opening prayer.

Introduction of Ecumenical Delegates from the Caribbean and Latin America

7:15 PM – Introduction of delegates, greetings from the Guyana Presbyterian Church delegate, and prayer from the delegate from the Dominican Evangelical Church

Presentation on the Role of the Belhar and the Book of Confessions in the life of our church from the Presbyterian Historical Society

7:24 PM – In the UPCNA 1967 was a milestone as C67 was approved and the church adopted a Book of Confessions as its confessional guidance.

Election of the Co-Moderators

We have reached the Order of the Day

Taking a few moments to reset the platform for the election process.

7:35 PM – Margaret Elliott, Committee on the Office of the General Assembly, announces that the candidates expense reports have been checked and are in accordance with the Standing Rules.

Nominations

7:36 PM – The floor is open for nominations. Julia Hill makes the nomination of Adan Mairena and David Parker. Karen Sapio makes the nomination of Jan Edmiston and Denise Anderson.

Candidate speeches

7:40 PM – Candidate Speeches – Parker and Mairena go first and Adan Mairena speaks first.

Adan speaks of his parents coming to the US from Honderas and first his father and then his mother going to McCormick Seminary. The Presbyterian church supported them and helped them. The connectional nature is important and the ministry to the marginal.

David speaks briefly about his being a lawyer and “only a ruling elder.” [Sorry, there is no such thing as only a ruling elder.] He also speaks about his service as chairman of the NC state Democratic Party and his experience moderating conventions larger than this.

They conclude by tag teaming, at times finishing each others lines, and speaking about their differences and how the church must mirror very different people working together.

7:46 PM – Edmiston and Anderson are up. Denise begins speaking about how there are 104 weeks until the next General Assembly and they pledge to work throughout it to reflect the actions and decisions of this assembly.

Jan speaks about the uncertainty and changes in the PC(USA) this week and in the time ahead. But says it is out of times of chaos that the greatest opportunity arises.

Denise concludes talking about working together.

Questions to Candidates

Note: I will be using their initials – JE, DA, AM, and DP – to make my blogging speedier.

7:51 PM – Gradye tells the process. Importantly each team can decide who will answer each question for them.

Q1: If you had the opportunity to speak directly to pastors, elders and churches considering leaving the denominations.

DP: This is one of the few places you can speak directly and honestly. Please stay because you can not hear the will of God without a voice of disagreement.

AM: We are a people of relationships and we have to keep relationship going.

JE: One of the recently dismissed churches in Chicago is a Japanese American Church that has a strong history and was sheltered by Fourth Pres during the internment in WWII. Need to maintain relationship and maybe they will come together again.

DA: Sometimes congregations discern they have to go another way. The important thing is that Christ be glorified. We can dismiss and remain in relationship

Q2: Is Jesus Christ the only way to salvation?

DA: YES! (emphasis hers)

JE: It is what the Gospel of John says. But there is also a passage that says there are other flocks. The good news is that God gets to sort it out.

AM: Yes, Jesus is my Lord and Savior. But we live in a different time.

DP: I am a lawyer. I have a lot of clients that are Muslim. And a business partner is Jewish. I believe Jesus is the only way. But I have talked with Muslims who are sincere and it is a challenging conversation. We need to be respectful of reach other.

Q3: It is often in time of struggle that we learn the most. Tell us about a time you failed.

AM: As an intern at Bryn Mawr I learned a lot and had a great mentor. I then went to Kensington which is a place of scarcity. I went around in a suit and tie. My mistake was not being relevant to those to whom I wanted to minister.

DP: I can not tell you about my failings as a lawyer because of client confidentiality. What a convenient excuse. But with the Democratic Party I led change that was probably too rapid and tendered my resignation but it was not accepted.

JE: I have failed so many time. Scripture “You intended it for ill but God used it for good.” Was personnel chair for the presbytery and had to fire as many as eight people and did not do it well.

DA: Said so many things I regret. But biggest is I have failed myself.

JE (again): Did not show up for a wedding due to misunderstanding about date of wedding.

Q4: I struggle with patriarchal language of our church. How do you blane and how should we treat it going forward.

DA: In my life I appreciate the masculine language but God more often has appeared to me as the feminine. Need to alternate or use gender neutral.

JE: Need to understand scriptural feminine references but use language a church may be comfortable with.

AM: Fortunate to be in a family that did not have traditional gender roles. Need to understand God is neither and God is all.

DP: God has no gender but we can say God has every gender. God is all things. Need to preserve political gains women have made.

Q5: Why is the Belhar important to you

AM:  Written from a context of people of color were suffering. (That was all he said)

DP: Belhar is a compliment to C67. C67 says go out into your neighborhood and love your neighbor. Belhar goes beyond and says we need to forgive our neighbor.

DA: Wrote a piece one year ago related to Charleston shootings about people remaining silent afterwards. Belhar reinforces our commitment to stay in the fight so the playing field is level.

JE: Honored to be in a denomination that accepts Belhar. We need to remind ourselves that racism is systemic and needs to be dismantled.

Q6: How do we be a church that is welcoming and encouraging of all ages, particularly younger members

DA: We need to respect them. Youth ministry is not to be babysitting.

JE: Have to take each other seriously and listen to each other. Co-mentoring – learning from each other in relationship.

AM: Don’t treat them as empty cups where my teaching gets poured in. Need to read scripture together. Don’t just give them pizza. They are hungry for opportunity and relationship. Value them.

DP: I am 61 and in the younger half of our denomination. What everyone else has said is that it has to do with mutual respect. When we have mutual respect everyone does better. Need to address the question of who will remain behind and what will the church look like in 25 years.

End of questions.

Heath thanks them for “putting themselves out” for the call to this position. Standing ovation.

The candidates are dismissed.

[Personal note – it is a tough call after the speeches and questions but if I had to handicapped it I am leaning to Anderson and Edmiston as having made a better presentation.]

We move to voting:

Young adult advisory delegates: 115 to 26 favoring Anderson/Edmiston. If they are the predictor as they usually are we know the result.

The commissioners have voted. The result is: Anderson/Edmiston 432, Parker/Mairena 136

The election is declared

A bit of a wait before the Co-Mods are escorted back into the hall. Includes singing of the Doxology.

The Co-Moderators and their families are escorted back into the hall to a standing ovation. While they are being greeted at the platform Spirit of the Living God is sung spontaneously by the Assembly.

Installation of the Co-Moderators

8:45 PM – The installation service progresses with the regular liturgy and including the singing of Called As Partners In Christ’s Service, the recitation of the six Great Ends of the Church and the questions.

Prayer for the Co-Moderators by The Rev Fred C. Lyon II (husband of Jan Edmiston) and declaration of their installation.

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Passing of the signs of the office: There is only one moderator’s cross so handed to both. Each is given a moderator’s stole.

Microphone is passed to them and Denise says “We haven’t talked enough?”

Denise also points out that on this 60th anniversary of the ordination of women in the mainline Presbyterian church it is the first time that there has been a moderatorial team of two women.

Heath and Larissa are thanked and given mementos of the office.

And now Gradye is coaching the new Mods through the process.

Very brief announcements – just to leave the voting pads at the turn-in tables for recharging.

Denise closes the session with prayer. And we are adjourned.

Thanks for following along. I will probably live blog tomorrow afternoon again and then it will be articles related to the committee meetings for a few days.

Live Blog – 222nd General Assembly, PC(USA), Saturday Afternoon Session

Thanks for joining me. This session I am working out the bugs in the live blog system to see if I want to use it this evening. Thanks for bearing with me.

OK, looks like technical issues. For the moment going back to the old way. Automatic updates are not working so please refresh your browser to see my updates.

The Assembly was warmed up by the house band with three hymns and songs.

A few minutes late the Moderator of the 221st Assembly, Heath Rada, gaveled the Assembly to order.

To open the Assembly there was a time of worship, reflection and remembrance to mark the anniversary of the Charleston church shooting. Interfaith representatives from the local area participated.

There were initial comments from the Stated Clerk and a declaration of the quorum was approved by the Assembly without objection.

2:32 – Back on track. The greetings from the Committee on Local Arrangements. And the video introducing the city. Followed by a procession of signs for the churches in the presbytery.

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2:49 PM – Report of the Moderator.

“Hope does not disappoint!” Has the Assembly repeat it.

Four areas of emphasis and place of hope

  1. Church is hungry for renewal through formation and proclamation
  2. Congregational vitality. Smaller churches struggling because of size. Larger find no point of connection to the system and find themselves working alone.
  3. Beloved community and its standards of witness for all people. Racial justice, inclusion of native american brothers and sisters, discrimination against LGBTQ family members. Money is not the problem – we are one of the wealthiest denominations. Also creation justice. Forging beloved community is difficult. People ask “Is there still a place for me in the PC(USA)?” Move from supporters of justice to a people of peace and unity.
  4. Education. Traditionally one of the denominations that emphasize education. Must continue to help provide education for all.

“Hope does not disappoint.”

Need to be part of a thinking faith. Need to set out on the journey once decisions are made. Not wait for every detail. But maybe we need to set aside our desire to do things decently and in order but step out boldly. [Applause]

The process that has begun is to get us unstuck.

Do we need a brand strategy? Do we need to deweaponize our polity? Can we affirm new paradigms for ministry? Need bottom up not the perceived top down.

Presbyterians know who they are and like who we are. COGA study says… [Do I have the first hit here?]

COGA study says that we like our polity

Our calling is to be messengers of salvation. May the God that has kept us safe thus far lead us joyfully forward.

3:13 PM – Orientation to Plenary Meetings. Gradye is recognized

For plenary discussions – we have a method of forming groups decently and in order. Tables are alternately blue and white tops and blue turns around and talks with white. Commissioners are taking a moment to get in groups and meet each other.

The people on the platform are introduced.
The speaker ID system at the microphones is described
The use of the paddles are described. For inquiring minds we are told that “Yes, they are badminton paddles.” And we get a light show as each of the color paddles are explained.

The process for translation of a speaker’s comments into English is explained in Spanish and Korean

Moving back to the motion process. BIG NEWS [note sarcasm} Motions can now be submitted electronically! {now we just need a bot to automate and spam the process}
If you need help formulating a motion you can ask a student assistant in the “stylish designer blue vests.”

The convention center has enhanced the WiFi throughout the building for the meeting.

“Electronic voting may be new to you. After the last GA it may be new to us as well.”
Explanation of voting phasor remote control voting handsets.
Practice questions – How many times have you previously attended a General Assembly (as a voting delegate)?
Next question: What is your age? And there is a problem with the voting instructions as the 46-55 age range is missing. We will vote anyways and if you are in that category Pick and age you would like to be

Next question: Which which race/ethnicity do you identify? Again an issue with the screen as white/European descent is missing.
Final question: Related to disability and need for accommodation

Finally a word on conduct – basically conduct yourself as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And Gradye reminds us that the book (the 2016 GA Program Book) holds many answers to questions.

But wait there’s more. Now an introduction to the process for voting on the report from the GA Nominating Committee.

The report is on PC-Biz and reflects two years of careful work. There can be nominations from the floor but the nominated must agree to serve and the individual on the slate who is being challenged identified.

3:57 PM – And now we talk about money. A brief overview of Financial Implications

  • What is a financial implication? Any business item that has a cost.
  • What creates a financial implication? Can come from any of the four sources of business (Overtures, Reports, Commissioner Resolutions, Referrals)
  • Which budget is impacted? Per Capita or Mission
  • What is the financial implication process? For any business with cost a form is filled out based on past experience of costs.
  • What are the questions to ask? No reserves being used so if something is added something must be scaled back or eliminated or per capita is increased

And we have our first Book of Order citation F-1.0202

4:13 PM – Committee Structure is proposed by Gradye and approved

4:14 PM – Business referrals
Now, a chance to orient to PC-Biz. We are walked through getting to business item 01-01.
And a voice vote is taken and the docket is approved.

Moving on to 01-02 – the referrals.

Next 01-05. This supersedes 01-03. This distributes business to the committees. Passed on voice vote.

Finally 01-06. To suspend the stated rules to allow for late business from GA entities. Passed on voice vote.

4:24 PMFirst video from the Communications Office on the Spirit of GA
Includes an intro to the two Stated Clerk candidates
And a thanks to Gradye!

Announcements and this session adjourns.

See you at 7 PM Portland time to elect the Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly.