What Is Going On in the PC(USA)
From June 14th through the 21st the General Assembly of the PC(USA) met in Detroit, MI. It was a busy week, and there were a number votes that present us with changes and challenges. The week began with worship, and then voting on several candidates for Moderator. Ruling Elder Heath Mada was elected as Moderator and will serve the denomination in this capacity for the next two years. Over the next two days many committees met to finalize and vote on recommendations to the GA. The whole assembly began its work the next day; hearing many reports, voting on recommendations, and discerning God’s will. Ultimately, there was a lot of positive work that will mostly go unnoticed including discussions of preparation for ministry, immigration concerns, ecological concerns, and the growing of 248 new worshipping communities over the past two years.
Two issues have been very prominent in the news, and a third issue is only big news for Presbyterians at the moment. The third issue is that the 172 presbyteries will be voting on the adoption of the Belhar Confession (South Africa) into the Book of Confessions, and replacing the Heidelberg Catechism with a new translation in the Book of Confessions. Each will require a 2/3 vote. The most contentious vote (310 – 303) was regarding the divestment from three US companies that have its equipment used in the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories: Motorola, Caterpillar, and Hewlett-Packard. These are the only companies that did not respond, or respond favorably, to attempts made to voice concerns over support of the occupation. It was reaffirmed commit to a two-state solution, as well as Israel’s right to exist.
The most controversial issue and what has received the most media attention is in regards to same-sex marriage. There were two votes that occurred with one needing to be voted on by the presbyteries and the other taking effect at the conclusion of the General Assembly on June 21st. Presbyteries will be voting on changing the wording in the Book of Order W 4.9000 focusing on marriage being “between two persons, traditionally a man and a woman.” General Assembly passed this with over 70% in favor of the change. The other action was an Authoritative Interpretation that will allow Teaching Elder’s the conscience to perform same-sex marriages in states where they are legal. This also allows the Session of a particular church to determine whether or not to permit such weddings to occur within church facilities. This passed with over a 60% vote.
While I believe this was a very positive General Assembly, once again, a few topics have overshadowed the whole work of the body. As is often the case, the vast majority of the work of the church: mission, compassion, education, discipleship is lost amid culturally sensitive issues. I welcome any questions or concerns, and I am usually available in my office during Monday through Thursday. I realize that these are important topics for us to consider. It is important for us to be open with one another and this is a time when some serious considerations need to be made.
In all you do may you know the Living Lord, Jesus Christ!
Vacation Bible School is scheduled for July 21-24, hours 6-8 PM. They are asking for the following items to be donated: For Elder Gift Bags - small jigsaw puzzles, magazines, books, bagged candy, activity books (crosswords, etc), Kleenex and hand wipes; For Bifthday Gift Bags - cake mixes (any flavor), frosting tubs, birthday candles, birthday napkins and paper plates, balloons, small inexpensive toys; For School Gift Bags - crayons, pencils, erasers, colored pencils, Elmer's glue, blunt scissors. There will be a basket in the Narthex for any contributions!
The Youth Summer starts on July 12th. If you would like to send them off with snacks for the week - items they could use: bottled water, Gatorade, Capri Sun, baked goodies, peanuts, pistachios, beef jerky, microwave popcorn....surprises!!!
Session Minutes for the Presenter – June 2014
A flyer advertising burial plots in Glenwood Cemetery will be sent to the area funeral homes. The cost of the flyer was paid by the "Friends for Glenwood Cemetery".
A list of projects that need to be done to update the Church property will be prepared so that we will know the amount that the fund raiser will be. We have repairs to the roof and guttering along with plastering and painting several areas in the Educational Wing.
The Session decided that we will complete the preparation for the nursery move to the meeting room by painting the walls. Plans are being discussed to install glass in the doors or hallway wall to make it compliant with the Policies and Prevention of Child Abuse.
The Session approved new By-Laws and a Policy & Procedure for the Prevention of Child Abuse and will be presenting them to the Congregation for approval within the next few months.
The new vessels to serve the Intinctin Communion have arrived and will be used for the first time at communion on July 6. There will be five Elders serving Communion for this style of Service.
Session approved that the Finance Committee reinvest the Cemetery Endowment and Church Endowment separately with an investment firm.
We have located the Session Minutes from January 15, 1859 through present. We will investigate the possibility of digitizing these as a means of preserving them for future generations. We will also inquire about having the Glenwood Cemetery records digitized.
Jodee Kleb, Clerk of Session