Great Beginnings by Wally Fletcher, GA221


What a great beginning! Occasions like this remind me why I am Presbyterian.

Two highlights stand out from our opening day. The first was attending the Riverside Conversation on the recommendations on engagement and divestment from the Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) committee made at the direction of our last GA. I was very impressed with the quality of the presentation and conversation around this very difficult issue. I was proud to learn of what our Presbyterian Foundation is doing to promote justice and economic development in Palestine. Having been part of a group from our Presbytery to travel to Palestine last November, I had a context for understanding the hard choices before us that I would not have had before.

The second highlight, of course, was the Opening Worship. It was as wonderful as I expected but made more so by the debut of our new Presbyterian Hymnal, “Glory to God”. Our church should be very proud of our Presbyterian Publishing Corp., the Office of Theology and Worship, and the Presbyterian Association of Musicians for their inspired and inspiring work. Each commissioner received a special edition copy of this new hymnal as a gift. It is one that I will cherish.

Now as I prepare for the committee meetings that begin tomorrow, I have to remind myself that committee assignments are made randomly. I am on the Social Justice Committee, which is addressing a number of important issues close to my heart. One is the scourge of gun violence. I think of the 74 school shootings that have occurred since Sandy Hook. I think of the less publicized “random shootings” of children playing on porches and front yards in Philadelphia and Chester, PA. I think of the gun culture in Texas, where I grew up and where concealed guns are now permitted to be carried in churches unless churches post signs forbidding it. I think of my troubled younger brother who was still in his 30’s when he put a handgun to his head and pulled the trigger. I think of my mother who found him dead in the trailer he lived in behind her house and too many other mothers who have cradled bloodied children in their arms. In spite of the randomness, I am grateful to be here on their behalf.