Sunday, June 18, 2006

General Assembly Thoughts – Sunday Night

What to write about as committees get ready to report? I looked at the docket for the Assembly and something struck me. Other than worship, almost everything that goes on at General Assembly is “adversarial.” Debate this overture. Vote on that resolution. No wonder our denomination is so divided!

I have an answer! We (I) need a delegate to make a “commissioners resolution” (if that is what it is called) to the effect that the constitution of the PCUSA can only be changed every TEN YEARS. It needs to have the resolution passed this year so that neither “side” can try to stack the commissioner deck to ram their agenda through before the ten-year moratorium begins.

Follow with my thinking here. We will only fight and argue at a General Assembly once every ten years!

I would propose that the Assemblies in those non-amending years be centered on a theme. The theme for the next Assembly should be “worship.” First, there would be worship! The large gatherings of the Assembly could experience many different “styles” of worship. Workshops could be offered for choir directors, worship committees, worship teams, composers, musicians, light and sound technicians, etc. There would still be delegates but churches would also be excited to send their own folks to glean ideas for worship in local congregations. Imagine an Assembly centered on worship—rather that amending the constitution!

I propose that the second gathering of the Assembly should be on “mission.” Missionaries could come in from the field to share what they were doing. There could be workshops to help congregations partner together to do joint mission. There could be seminars on starting neighborhood health clinics or food banks. There could be seminars on how to reach out to inner-city youth or adults, people who are of the postmodern culture or even single moms. There could be a push to recruit people to go on the mission field. Imagine an Assembly centered on mission—rather than amending the constitution!

The third gathering could be on “social and justice issues.” We could learn about starting local HIV/AIDS ministries. There could be seminars on current social issues facing our country and the world. We could discover how local congregations could partner together to work for social change. We could look at ways for our churches to use alternative energy sources. Imagine an Assembly centered on social and justice issues—rather than on amending the constitution.

Themes for future Assembly gatherings could be Christian education and discipling, evangelism, stewardship, technology…

Worship would be central at EVERY Assembly!

One benefit from this change in what goes on at General Assembly is that MORE people would connect with the meetings of the General Assembly! I could foresee taking our entire worship committee for the gathering on worship and our mission committee on the year focusing on mission. Instead of one elder and pastor delegate from our presbytery there could be DOZENS of people going to learn more about various types of ministry. Wouldn’t that be great!

It is time for our Church to think outside of the box. We have been running the meetings of the General Assembly the same way since God invented dirt. What has it brought us? Fighting! Division! Membership loss! Financial struggles! Now is the time to change!

One brave, visionary commissioner needs to stand up and change the future of the PCUSA!


At 5:28 AM , Blogger Quotidian Grace said...

This is a brilliant suggestion. We are indeed about to kill our denomination with our adversarial hearings and meetings.

At 9:11 PM , Anonymous tonyc said...

Our friends in Central Washington Presbytery were obviously thinking along those lines when they sent in the Overture for a "decade of peace." It only applies to amendments to the "amendment B" section, though. Even so, the Church Orders Committee voted it out with a 51-6 favorable vote. Being the good bureaucrat that I am, if we put in a no amendment rule I'd want some kind of exception for non-substantive but necessary changes like the one to expand the concordance.

As to worship, when I attended GA we had worship every day, and experienced a wealth of different forms and styles. The schedule this year includes worship every day, although many of them are in the evening. It also looks like a heavy dose of Cumberland experience. I don't know if that's good or bad, but it will probably fill in the gap. :-)


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