Next Stated Meeting

Date: October 21, 2014
Time: 9 am Registration/10 am Meeting Begins
Place: Historic Midway Congregational Church, Midway, Georgia
Your Action Step: Please elect your Commissioners ASAP and email to Presbytery

Handbook will be uploaded to Events -> Stated & Called Meetings in early October

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Brunswick News Article Highlights GA Meeting

Friends,
 
The following links are to an article that appeared in the Brunswick News on July 12, 2014. There will certainly be many opportunities for education and conversation within our Presbytery in the coming months.  
 
Perhaps the thoughtful statements of two Savannah Presbytery Pastors and our two Commissioners to the GA221 in Detroit may be helpful in understanding what happened and how we can work through these issues together as Presbyterians and as Christians.
 
Grace and Peace,
Russell
 

Brunswick News Article

Brunswick News Article cont.

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Musing #3 from Motown

GA 221 Detroit LogoJune 21, 2014

I write this third and last musing from the Detroit Airport, after a very active and exhausting final one and a half days. This assembly was a very active one as on Thursday it passed both an Authoritative Interpretation to the PCUSA Constitution giving Pastoral discretion to officiate same gender marriages in states where this is legal. They also passed a proposed amendment to the Book of Order, which if passed by a majority of the 171 presbyteries, would expand the definition of marriage to include couples (two people) in addition to the traditional one man and one woman.

On Friday the commissioners voted, by a 3 vote margin, in favor of instructing the Presbyterian Foundation and the Board of Pensions to divest stocks of Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola Solutions from their portfolios. The discussion on this, as in that concerning marriage, was long and passionate, but was also done with civility and care.

Moderator Heath Rada, continually encouraged the assembly to show Christ’s love to those who differed from us in these issues that have divided us for years. There was joy for those who prevailed and sorrow for those who were in the minority on these votes. Whether I agreed with the votes, or I did not agree, I was proud of our Presbyterian polity and the way we modeled being Christians in the mist of dealing with difficult issues that face the Church.

Over the next year we, as Savannah Presbytery, will have the opportunity to learn about and discern God’s will, as we prepare to vote on the amendments to the Book of Order and as we determine whether we will add the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions. Our Commissioners have agreed to be available, as have I, to participate in the education and conversations in our Churches about these amendments. I hope to also have some district meetings where we may come together for learning with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

As you know, I have said that I strongly believe that we have the unity of Christ’s body, The Church, that I pray will hold us together in our diversity of opinions on the issues of our world. May we be one body, moving as God shows us the way, in ministering in love to a world who needs it so desperately.

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Musing #2 From Motown

Thursday, June 19, 2014

GA 221 Detroit LogoOn Wednesday, committees wrapped up their recommendations to the assembly and plenary sessions were convened at 2 p.m. and again at 7 p.m. During the day, the major action passed was the approval of recommending the Belhar Confession be added to our Book of Confessions.  This recommendation will now move to the presbyteries for a vote.  In order to pass at the presbytery level, the body must approve it by a two-thirds vote. Additionally, to become a new confession, two-thirds, or 115 of the 171 presbyteries must vote in the affirmative. Should this pass the presbyteries, the confession would need another approval from the 222nd General Assembly in order to be added to the eleven confessions presently in Part I of our Constitution.

The major items to be voted on which will come to assembly on Friday include recommendations from the committees on Middle East Relations and Civil Unions and Marriage.  Today, as I sit in the morning plenary, the Delegates and Commissioners have been listening and talking in small groups about these two important items.  There is a sincere effort to hear each other, even as we disagree with each other. I would ask that you pray for the peace and unity of the Church, and specifically the PCUSA, as these decisions are made regardless of the outcome.

Please pray also for Molly, Rachel, and Trip as they are in discernment as to God’s leading them in the remaining long days of this assembly.

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Musings from Motown

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Triptich GA 221

Russell with Heath Rada, Larissa Kwong Abazia, and Gradye Parsons

I write to you this morning after a night of battling the stomach bug. The score is Bug – 1, me – 0. I intended to write on Sunday and yesterday, but my computer had a bug. Today it is finally working enough for me to use it and I can do little else in the confines of my hotel room, so I report, bugs and all.

The 221st General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church USA opened on Saturday with a wonderful worship service. If you ever have the chance to attend an assembly, this service is worth the entire trip. We heard Mendelssohn’s Symphony # 5 played by the Detroit Metropolitan Youth Symphony prior to the processional led by the Alma College Pipe Band playing “Scotland the Brave” and “Silver Wings.” The service was full of music and wonderful liturgy. Neal Presa as outgoing Moderator of the 220th GA preached a powerful sermon, “Pilgrims’ Pitstops” in which he challenged people of the Church, today’s disciples, to be moved by the Holy Spirit and not to settle for our own dysfunctional places where we are comfortable. He challenged the church to “Abound in Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

The other main event on Saturday evening, when Heath Rada, a Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of Western North Carolina, was elected Moderator of the 221st GA. The Vice Moderator, chosen by Mr. Rada, and elected with him is Rev. Larissa Kwong Abazia, a Chinese American from Queens, New York.

I am sure that God was in the midst of this election, even though modern technology took the night off. A lack of width in the broad band would not allow the Commissioners and YAAD’s to vote electronically. Alternative two was to go back to an electronic “clicker” used in several previous assemblies. These were unsuccessful in capturing all the votes that were cast. So we held the election with paper ballots for the first time since 1987. You will be pleased to know that the GA recognized my gifts in ministry, as I was quickly drafted
to be one of 24 Tellers to distribute and receive the ballots.

The Assembly convened again on Sunday afternoon for some organization and reporting from committees’ authorized by the last GA. Moderator Rada and Vice Moderator Abazia both assumed the chair during this session. The assembly recessed until Wednesday afternoon at 2PM. After the plenary session, there was a reception for the new Moderator and Vice Moderator which I attended. I did not see our delegation at the reception, but have it by good authority that there was a gathering of selected individuals, including our SP delegation, which was held later that evening at an undisclosed location in the Greek town area of Detroit.

During Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning committee work on the various overtures before the GA221 is now being done. I have been assured by our Commissioners, Molly McCarthy and Trip McKinnon and YAAD Rachel Miles that they are hard at work on three of these committees!

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