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.
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.
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.
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.
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.