I have been having fun the last couple of days following the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. There is no live streaming so the vast majority of what I can find out in real time is through Twitter.
A few transcripts and audio selections have found their way onto the internet. The church has posted the text of the addresses by the outgoing Moderator and the incoming Moderator. To hear parts of the Assembly you can check out a number of audio clips that Alan in Belfast has posted on his blog as part of his coverage of the Assembly meeting. In addition, he has posted the report of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland Youth and Children Council (PCIYAC) from earlier today. (part 1, part 2)
And getting down to the subject of the Board of Youth and Children’s Ministries, they were fairly vocal in the debate yesterday concerning the proposal by the Structures Committee to reorganize and consolidate Boards. In particular, they were concerned about their loss of Board status as they would be included with the Council For Congregational Life and Witness. In the end the Structures proposal was not adopted this year by the vote of 190 to 119 so they continue as they are for another year.
This afternoon was the report of the Board of Youth and Children’s Ministries itself. The report went well, as you can hear for yourself on the audio clips above, lasting just over 40 minutes. One of the highlights was a video promoting Messy Church. Another was the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Boys Brigade program and the impact that it has had, including a couple of testimonials from the floor. As for the seven resolutions in the report, nothing controversial that raised any real objections.
What did catch a number of people’s attention was the turnout of Assembly members for the report, at least at the beginning.
When the report began it was preceded by a prayer that included these lines transcribed from the audio clip:
“We thank you for those who serve within this Board, for the work of this past year. And now as they report help them to communicate to us what’s on their hearts and what’s of importance to them and to us.”
Thanks to Twitter we have some comments and pictures of the meeting space at about the time the prayer was being said. Among those tweets are these two:
James Currie @JCBelfast
Hall unfortunately nearly empty for the Youth and Children’s Board Report #pciga13 pic.twitter.com/pBrBMJTtD3
James McCormick @jamesmcc77
Not much interest in Youth & Children from PCI members. Poor show folks. #pciga13 pic.twitter.com/yUdxIRPj9o
As the prayer said “…what’s of importance to them and to us.” Not many of the “us.”
Now to be fair, these pictures were taken at the beginning of the report right after a short 15 minute break and the lines for coffee this week are reported to be very long. And the hall did fill up a bit more after this. Furthermore, this was not the only report with very low attendance at the beginning. But the reports on Twitter still seem to indicate that it never did fill up the way it had for some of the more high-profile reports. And comparisons continued later in the day.
So I am sitting here wondering do I really need to spell this out? Do I really need to point out that when we talk about the younger generation and their importance to the church and then we don’t show up for the report about their ministries it sends a pretty mixed message? Do I need to rant on about the theme of the Assembly being about transformation and then the report about working with the generation we are trying to transform the church for has so few people listening to it?
No I don’t think I need to do any of that. But what struck me about the events of today is that when there is so much concern and discussion about whether the church has a future I must admit that I was very surprised at the apparent lack of attention that was paid to an important Board that has responsibility for the youngest members of the Body of Christ, the ones that have the most riding on the future.
OK, rant over. Commentary mode off.
We now return to our regularly scheduled stream of tweets.