Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hump Day Prayer

God we may be silly sometimes,
but we are not stupid,
so please use our wisdom to bless others.

God we may not be rich, but we are not useless,
please help us share our gifts with others.
God we may not have strong faith, but we do trust you a lot,
please take our faith and use it
to make weak kids feel stronger.

In the name of Jesus,
our big Brother and our Saviour.

prepared by Ormonde Plater, Archdeacon of the [Anglican/Episcopal] Diocese of Louisiana

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Blogosphere and General Assembly

The Eagle and Child has some very interesting thoughts on the effects of internet active and GA. Check out Gruntled Center -- I'm the Eagle and Child. He ends this thoughts with a questions that intrigued me.

Is blogging actually shaping the face of this GA?
Share you thoughts.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

GA Day 8 – The End of a Very Long Week

Stories from June 21, 2006

Today’s Docket

  • 8:30 am Morning Worship (in plenary) Elder Cat Dodson, member, First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport, Louisiana and Master of Divinity student at Boston University School of Theology, under care of the Presbytery of the Pines.
  • 9:30 am Business Meeting, watch live via the internet,
    Bills and Overtures,
    General Assembly Procedures (Financial Implications),
    Mission Coordination (Financial Implications)
    Introduction of San Jose Committee on Local Arrangements
  • Noon Adjourn

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

GA Day 7 – Last Day Full Day of Business

Stories from June 20, 2006

Today’s Docket

  • 10:30 am Business Meeting, watch live via the internet,
    Church Polity
    STORYLINE: What once was a pocket size overview of principles that define and unite Presbyterians has become an encyclopedia of regulations. What once was a mission organization has become a regulatory agency. Several attempts to reverse this trend over the past decade have failed. This time it is the Office of the General Assembly that is proposing trimming and simplifying the B/O.
    PROPOSAL(S): • That chapter 14 be revised with many of the regulatory details to be deleted, and entrusted to the ordaining bodies. • That a task force be created to study and propose additional revisions to the Form of Government. Ovt. proposing that churches can choose their presbytery affiliation, and presbyteries can choose their synod affiliation.
    THEOLOGICAL/MISSIONAL ISSUES AT STAKE: Can the PC(USA) recover its role as mission agency? Shall we be a network of presbyteries or a topdown hierarchy? Can the integrity and unity of ministries be sustained if presbyteries are free to work out specifics?
  • 2:00 pm Business Meeting, watch live via the internet,
    General Assembly Procedures
    Presbyterian Historical Society in Montreat: Several ovts. oppose: Shall the GA affirm the action of the OGA to close the historical office there and consolidate it in Philadelphia? Many overtures oppose action of the OGA. One seeks to amend the church's open meeting law to have place and time information posted on the PC(USA) Web site before meetings and to make all materials available to observers; the other seeks financial reports on the projected and actual costs of General Assembly task forces or work groups.
    Social Justice Issues
    STORYLINE: Longstanding commitment to make a difference in the culture: “the promotion of social righteousness” and “the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.” New issues are arising daily, plus old ones are continually changing.
    PROPOSAL(S): Call to address poverty and economic justice Proposed policy papers: • On persons with diabilities • On usury • On economic globalization and international debt • On economic security for older adults • On torture. declaring suicide bombing a crime against humanity; raising the federal minimum wage; calling Presbyterians to take positive and immediate steps to live "carbon-neutral lives"; abandoning mountaintop removal of coal; and adopting a program of the Mennonite Central Committee that seeks the return of unidentifiable remains of American aboriginal peoples.
    THEOLOGICAL/MISSIONAL ISSUES AT STAKE: Economic justice concerns: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Struggle to address such concerns without sounding like partisan politics.
    Health Issues - Ovts recommending opposition to late-term abortions. church to support the closing of a landfill in East New Orleans because its toxic contents will be a threat to the community that was largely abandoned due to Hurricane Katrina.
    Peacemaking and International Issues
    STORYLINE: 2004 GA directed program of divestment; accusations of anti-semitism arose from Jewish community, echoed by many Presbyterians.
    PROPOSAL(S): Two dozen overtures urging GA to reverse or alter plans to divest funds from corporations benefiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land • Also an overture: new task force to study our Middle East policy.
    COUNTER PROPOSAL(S): Overtures to reaffirm action of 2004 GA.
    THEOLOGICAL/MISSIONAL ISSUES AT STAKE: Theological significance of Israel • Dispensationalism (with its militant Christian Zionism) vs. Reformed views of Israel. • History of anti-semitism • Ecumenical/mission partnerships with Palestinian Christians • Convergence of religion, politics, and peacemaking
  • 7:00 pm Evening Worship, the assembly participants will gather for one last worship service before the assembly completes its business and heads home.
  • 8:15 pm Business Meeting, watch live via the internet, whatever business is left from the morning and afternoon

Litany of Prayer for the General Assembly

Leader: Gracious God, the governing body of our denomination has gathered this week in Birmingham, Alabama, to worship you, to seek your guidance and to discern a continuing path to follow your footsteps.

People: Endow all planners and participants with a sense of your peace and calm spirit.

Leader: There are many issues before the General Assembly that call into question our unity and our trust in you.

People: Give all Presbyterians a gentle reminder that you have called all of us, with different gifts and different opinions, to be your children, united in our faith in you above all else.

Leader: Those who gather will be friends and strangers, but as they spend the week together, we pray that they may find common ground, bonds of unity, and a sense of your presence in all that they do.

People: Bless the times of worship as our denomination gathers on its own and with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America. Send your Spirit to be an inspiration, to interpret the Word and spread your love among all who attend.

Leader: Bless the committee meetings with a special measure of your grace, understanding, wisdom and discernment, that the business of the Assembly may move smoothly and with love.

People: Bless the plenary sessions, that all who speak may do so with respect for you and for each other.

Leader: Give a special measure of your wisdom and grace to whoever is elected as Moderator, and to all the other leaders, that they may lead the denomination in following and serving you with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strengths.

People: Help each person attending General Assembly to heed these words of Scripture, "Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him"
(Col. 3:17). Amen.

Written by the Rev. Kimberly Secrist-Ashby, Minister Member, Maumee Valley Presbytery

Monday, June 19, 2006

GA Day 6 – Second Day of Plenary

Stories from June 19, 2006

Today’s Docket

  • 9:00 am Business Meeting, watch live via the internet
    Nominations Committee - Executive Director Confirmation (order of the day)
    STORYLINE: 2001 GA directed formation of task force “to develop a process and an instrument” to lead PC(USA) in spiritual discernment ... on matters of Christology, biblical authority & interpretation, ordination standards, and power. Twenty theologically diverse TF members adopted the report unanimously.
    PROPOSAL(S): That the Church… • Stay together and seek consensus • Address controversies via group discernment • Study the Theological Reflection in the report • Adopt new authoritative interpretation: national standards, local discernment • Make no changes to existing constitution AND minimize judicial proceedings.
    COUNTER PROPOSAL(S): • Overtures recommending rejection of proposal #5 or referral to new TF to study implications or clarify interpretation or declare that “shall” statements cannot be scrupled. • Overtures: provide resources to help study report.
    THEOLOGICAL/MISSIONAL ISSUES AT STAKE: • Is this “local option”? • Is this Presbyterian? • Will this lead to greater inclusivity? • Does this overturn or dilute past votes of presbyteries? • Will such action damage trust in the pews?
  • 1:30 pm Business Meeting, watch live via the internet,
    Speakout (15 minutes)
    Church Orders
    STORYLINE: Ever since 1976: What are the standards for sexual conduct for GLBT persons? History: • Definitive Guidance (1978) • Authoritative Interpretation (1993) • G-6.0106b (1997): fidelity-chastity. Through those 28 years: repeated failed attempts to overturn or amend standards
    PROPOSAL(S): • Numerous overtures to delete G-6.0106b • Overtures on A/I-93: delete … amend
    COUNTER PROPOSAL(S): • Overtures on A/I-93: study … reaffirm • Overture: Affirm authority of Scripture and Lordship of Jesus Christ • Overtures: 8 or 10 year moratorium
    THEOLOGICAL/MISSIONAL ISSUES AT STAKE: • the impact of the gospel on GLBT persons • the call to biblical sexual morality • the call to leaders to be role models • yet another battle in the presbyteries?
    Mission Coordination and Budgets
    STORYLINE: Giving by members to their congregations continues to grow, but giving of per capita and of mission monies to upper governing bodies is decreasing. The GAC has proposed complete organizational restructuring, including cuts in the size of the GAC and its staff, all around eight specific objectives, along with major cuts in budget.
    PROPOSAL(S): • That the GA approve the new structure for a smaller GAC and for a smaller staff. • That the GA send to the presbyteries any amendments necessary to accomplish the structural changes. • That the budget be approved. Confirmation of GAC’s candidate for director. One asks that the moderator convene a meeting to develop an understanding of the PC(USA)'s worldwide mission work; the second asks that the Women's Ministries Program Area include a diverse, yet Reformed, range of theological viewpoints in its job requirements, consistent with the church's constitution.
    THEOLOGICAL/MISSIONAL ISSUES AT STAKE: Can the church’s mission to the world increase while the management structure decreases? Can our ministries be better integrated so they work in partnership with one another? What does “connectionalism” look like in this new century?
  • 7:00 pm Joint Worship led by PC(USA) , it will be the PC(USA)'s turn to provide worship for all three denominations. And on Wednesday, June 21, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church In America will invite attendees at all three assemblies to gather for worship.
  • 8:15 pm Business Meeting, watch live via the internet,
    Ecumenical Greetings (30 minutes); World Prayer (15 minutes); Presbyterian Church of Columbia 150th (5 minutes); Presbyterian Church of Cuba (5 minutes); Self-Development of People (15 minutes); Mission Initiative (10 minutes)

Monday Question of the Week - GA

What is the biggest issue facing the General Assembly this year?

GA Day 5 – Now the Real Fun Begins

Stories from June 18, 2006

Today’s Docket

  • 9:00 am Business Meeting, watch live via the internet,
    Theological Issues and Institutions -
    STORYLINE: Ongoing obligation of “reformed, being reformed” Christians to rethink the faith in the light of new questions, situations, and missions. Two task forces were formed by past GA’s to revisit the issue of naming the members of the Trinity and to take a look at Presbyterian meaning and participation in the sacraments.
    PROPOSAL(S): For the GA to approve and commend for denomination-wide study two documents: • “The Trinity: God’s Love Overflowing” • “Invitation to Christ” Ovt. recommending development of new hymnal, new e-hymnal.
    COUNTER PROPOSAL(S): Ovt. 90 to refer Trinity paper back for further consultation.
    THEOLOGICAL/MISSIONAL ISSUES AT STAKE: How do we speak of the Trinity without sounding gender-exclusive? Are the three terms in the baptismal formula, Father, Son and Holy Spirit names or metaphors? Are our Christian identities rooted in our baptism? Can unbaptized believers be welcomed to the Lord’s Table?
    Board of Pensions and Presbyterian Foundation -
  • 1:30 pm Business Meeting, watch live via the internet,
    Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations - supporting the Presbyterian accompaniment program in Colombia; celebrating and protecting the church's partnership with the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Cuba; and supporting the request of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines for a full inquiry into the murders of 18 of its pastors and church workers by paramilitary forces.
    Church Growth and Christian Education - Ordination of Christian Educators: two overtures recommend the creation of a fourth ordained office.
    Review of GA Permanent Committees -
  • 7:00 pm Joint Worship led by Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church will plan and lead our worship experience.
  • 8:15 pm Business Meeting, watch live via the internet, whatever business is left from the morning and afternoon

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Basic Question: What, exactly, are the duties of the Moderator?

I've been doing quite a bit of looking around, including searching the"Searchable Book of Order" and I'm wondering if there is some very simple,clear explanation.

Laura Grace
(delighted about, and praying for, our new moderator, Joan Gray)

GA Day 4 – Church and Final Committee Meetings

Stories from June 17, 2006

Todays Schedule:
Worship in local congregations, assembly participants will be encouraged to attend worship with local congregations of not only the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) but also the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (CPC) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America (CPCA).
1:30 pm Committees meet if necessary
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Moderator’s Reception
CPC and CPCA arrive
6:00 pm Worship with CPC and CPCA (what's this?), all three denominations will gather in the Birmingham Arena to celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion, supported by several choirs and musicians. The Rev. Dr. Setri Nyomi of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana, and General Secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches will be the preacher.

Friday, June 16, 2006

GA Day 2 – Committee Meetings

Stories from June 15, 2006
Atlanta pastor is elected moderator
Gench invites commissioners to walk on troubling waters
Surprise announcement electrifies Assembly
Litany of Prayer for the General Assembly
Longtime PC(USA) leader Josiah Beeman dead at 71
Patron Saint of Birmingham
More Light wants more inclusion
A TTF Primer
Statement of Purpose for Concurrent General Assemblies
Israel/Palestine conflict
GA tote bags feature traditional art from the Congo
Special treat at the Birmingham Museum of Art
Not just a footnote
Lyrical Freedom Riders "Not just a history lesson"
Communion Ware highlights Presbytery’s international ties

Today is filled with committee meetings, the real business won’t start until the whole assembly reconvenes on Monday.

Today’s Docket
9:00 am CST Committee Orientation
10:00 am CST Committee Meetings
1:30 pm CST Committee Meetings
6:45 pm CST Evening Worship, the emphasis will be on mission as the mission co-workers are commissioned to carry out their ministry on behalf of the PC(USA). Former Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase will preach at the service.
8:00 pm Committee Meetings

Thursday, June 15, 2006

And the Moderator is . . .

Vote #1 – Block 143 for 28%;Carson 109 22%;Gray 139 28%;Halverson 113 22%; No one is very elected on the first vote.

Vote #2 – Block 160 32%;Carson 69 14%;Gray 205 41%;Halverson 69 14%;

We have a Moderator Vote #3 – Block 152 31%;Carson 19 4%;Gray 307 62%;Halverson 20 4%;

Joan Gray

Here is her info and her web site.

GA Day 1 – Election of the Moderator

GA officially convenes at 1:00 pm CST. You can watch this event live via the internet. They pick back up again at 7:30 pm CST for the exciting Election of the Moderator. Which you can also watch live via the internet.

Here is a list of Presbyterian Bloggers attending GA (if I over looked you please let us know in the comments).
217th Assembly of Presbyterians
Catechisms and Cataclysms
A Classical Presbyterian
Cheesehead in Paradise
The Eagle and Child

Here is a list of PrebyBloggers not attending but discussing this weeks events.
Quotidian Grace
The Reformed Angler response to QC
Presbyterian Minister's Journal - by Apostle John Discusses Candidates for Moderator
Signs-Along-The-Way prays for GA

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What Happens when we ASS-U-ME?

So . . . I am doing some writing and am trying to come up with some of the most widely held assumptions, critiques, myths, understandings about the Postmodern and Emergent church culture. I am especially interesting in hearing from those who would consider themselves highly critical/suspicious of this "movement." -- Don't worry we can still be friends ;-) If you are Presbyterian, please let me know as I am trying to frame some responses to my PC(USA) familia as well as some larger audiences.

So far I have . . .

* The Postmodern church is not interested in the TRUTH of God.
* One can BECOME a Postmodern;
* Postmodern = generational;
* Postmodern church = church growth fad;
* Postmodernism is a rejection of all things traditional;
* Postmodern can be defined.
* Postmodern = method;
* Postmodernism is just repackaging old ritual
* The Postmodern discourse is just the playground of elite, white, male,conservative zealots;

Other assumptions, critiques, etc. that you hold or that you have heard? Thanks in advance!


Hump Day Prayer . . . General Assembly

As I am sure most of you know GA starts tomorrow, and anyone who has been to GA knows that everyone involved definitely needs our prayers. If anyone, both members of PC (USA) Bloggers and frequent readers, are attending this year’s event we would love to hear your observations and options of the goings on. Whether as a delegate, staffer, or simply as an observer it would be great to hear your first hand account. You can email your thoughts and I will post them.

Almighty God,
in Jesus Christ you called disciples
and, by the Holy Spirit, made them one church to serve you.
Be with members of our General Assembly.
Help them to welcome new things you are doing in the world,
and to respect old things you keep and use.
Save them from empty slogans or senseless controversy.
In their deciding,
determine what is good for us and for all people.
As this General Assembly meets,
let your Spirit rule,
so that our church may be joined in love and service to Jesus Christ,
who, having gone before us,
is coming to meet us in the promise of your kingdom.

BCW, Prayers for Various Occasions, Litanies and Prayers for Various Occasions, Prayers for the Church and Other People of Faith, For a Meeting of the General Assembly, Synod, or Presbytery

Resources for GA:

PC (USA)’a GA website.

Presbyterian Outlook has What'll be brewing in Birmingham? a printable scorecard. This grid contains a brief summary of the hot-button topics facing our denomination and room to track the results.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Question-Of-The-Week . . . Hello Mutha, Hello Fatha

“The language of worship and theology can be a powerful force in shaping our conceptions and experiences of God and of ourselves. Reflection on the power of language is important as we strive to affirm the richly diverse character of God’s people and the mystery of the divine presence and self-presentation.” Keeping these thoughts in our hearts, this week’s question-of-the-week is:
Can We Call God Mother?

Resources: Report and Recommendations in Response to Referral on Inclusive Language & A Report to the Church on Issues of Language and Gender.

Question-Of-The-Week . . . Hello Mutha, Hello Fatha

“The language of worship and theology can be a powerful force in shaping our conceptions and experiences of God and of ourselves. Reflection on the power of language is important as we strive to affirm the richly diverse character of God’s people and the mystery of the divine presence and self-presentation.” Keeping these thoughts in our hearts, this week’s question-of-the-week is:
Can We Call God Mother?

Resources: Report and Recommendations in Response to Referral on Inclusive Language & A Report to the Church on Issues of Language and Gender.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hump Day Prayer

Gracious Giver of Life,
at times this treasure we carry around
in clay jars feels more burdensome that blessing.
Comfort us when we are perplexed,
bear us up when we are struck down.
We need your blessing on our lives.
We desire to know that we are indeed a part
of your wondrous plan of life for your children.
We thank you for these things
in the strong name of the Christ,
From Ordinary Time, by Cheesehead in Paradise
Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Monday, June 05, 2006

Monday Question of the Week

This week I thought that we could take a break with an easy question.
What is the Meaning of Life?