Tuesday, June 17, 2014
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!