Surprise, Gratitude, and Learning New Things

Our Commissioners reflect on GA226

Our Commissioners are writing about their experiences at General Assembly. Come back to see new posts as they come in!

Rev. Diane Jamison Fitch (Flourtown)

Friday, July 5, 2024

How often do you encounter a person you have never met before, walking down the street, on an elevator, or in a hotel lobby, and you stop to introduce yourself and start a conversation? My guess is, almost never. Well, that’s a common occurrence at GA! Age doesn’t matter. Gender doesn’t matter. Neither does the color of our skin, the shape of our bodies, or the pronouns we use. The social barriers we have become accustomed to – fall away. We are connected as brothers and sister in Christ. Each story is unique. The path that brought us to Salt Lake City as well. But we are all followers of the One who calls us to treat all as equals and to see the light of Christ in all we meet. God’s gift of this time and place is connection. What a gift!

Elder Julie Stephenson (Holy Trinity-Bethlehem)

Friday July 5, 2024

This 226th General Assembly is “MY GA”. For years I have wanted to come and finally, I AM HERE! Once in Plenary, I was awe struck, a sea of people, a family- the Presbyterian Church (USA). Churches from around the country sent representatives to vote their conscience on important issues within the church. Our purpose- to improve family relations and functions.
In most family gatherings there are people and things we are familiar with and there are people and things we barely know of. Yet here, there is a strong connection because we know who and whose we are. We center on God as Parent, Jesus Christ as Savior, and the Holy Spirit as our guide. The theme at this KIN-DOM building is “LIVE INTO HOPE”. The hope that we will love ALL as Jesus loves each of us. Know, GA is every member of the PC (USA) “MY GA”.

Elder Sharon Parker (Overbrook)

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Both through preparations and expectations, the General Assembly set a new standard for Protestant Work Effort…and the bar was high!  I had enlisted in our denominational boot camp and plunged headlong into an immersion experience celebrating the diversity of the church universally.  My greatest joys were found in settings where I was a minority by age, race, culture, ability, identity, and periodically, perspective.  In fellowship, debate, and worship, I listened to the unique expressions of my Korean, African, Portuguese, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ siblings; I listened to those from urban, rural, mountain and island homes. In Divine Disequilibrium  we sang and prayed in the same Spirit. The blessings of the Family of God were abundant.  Thanks be to God!

Connor Williams, Theological Student Advisory Delegate (Union Theological Seminary) 
Wednesday July 3, 2024
When I began my journey as Presbyterian two years ago, I would not have imagined that I would have been attending the 226th General Assembly let alone as Theological Student Advisory Delegate. As I sit in my chair, I could not imagine myself anywhere else while serving my seminary, my fellow seminarian colleagues, presbytery, and the PC(USA). I had the immense honor to serve on the Christian Formation committee, which allowed me to learn so much about the PC(USA)’s commitment to theological education. It was my service on the Christian Formation Committee, that lead to what surprised me the most during my time here at the general assembly. After the committee disapproval of the commissioner resolution CF-18, my TSADs colleagues and I began the tiresome work to remove it from the consent agenda and organizing support for the resolution. Although the disapproval was upheld, my colleagues and I celebrated. Not because we were happy that the general assembly voted to uphold the committee decision, but we were happy because the struggles of students had been brought out of the seminary and into the world. I know my contribution will support us as seminarians to ensure the institutions we love are creating a more just and equitable world.
Rev. Peter Ahn (Olivet Covenant)

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Last week, I served on General Assembly Entity Coordination via Zoom. One of the most valuable aspects of this committee’s work was our commitment to being in right relationship with one another over asserting one’s rightness. This was established a couple of weeks before our plenary work. We reminded ourselves how to show up with each other in our Zoom space: listening with curiosity, rather than listening with judgment or formulation of rebuttal; leaning into discomfort and letting it open space for self-discovery… etc. This week, as we begin our in-person plenary sessions, I noticed a macro-cosmic pattern of what we experienced in last week’s committee work. It seems that equity and justice matters are often not so linear or simple. For example, at times racial diversity implied class-based solidarity. At times class diversity came at the cost of racially based solidarity. While working through passionately debated items before us, we are choosing each other over winning. I am grateful that we are committing to our baptismal vows of committing to belonging to God and with one another.

Elder Chawezi Mwantembe (Christs’ Community Church)

Monday July 1, 2024

The experience was one of a kind. First time GA attendee, I was impressed by how seamlessly the process of getting commissioners together felt. Indeed, we are Presbyterians doing things decently and in order. In my committee (ORD) I appreciated how each speaker was respected and given time to speak their peace without interruption although sometimes, tensions were high. The motions brought forward were interesting, none that I knew of until after reading the overtures and hearing from presenters. I learned that we are a passionate people of faith wanting to improve how we as a denomination practice faith inclusively, decently and in order. I also learned that there is a clear need to change some of the rules in the Book or Order to make the book more applicable to present day needs and challenges. I am so grateful for this opportunity. I enjoyed being among likeminded people worshiping God and asking for wisdom on how our denomination can continue to answer the call to serve without prejudice and be the light and salt of the world.

Rev. Timothy Wotring (Memorial Presbyterian Church of Fox Chase)

Monday July 1, 2024

I was blessed to moderate the Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Partnerships. I was flown to Salt Lake City last Monday so that during our committee meetings, I could be in the same room with the leadership team (the Parliamentarian, Resource Person, Committee Assistant, Vice Moderator, and Recorder/Note Taker). As Presbyterians, we like things to be done decently and in order. I’ve noticed this throughout my time as moderator and as commissioner. We have all been well-trained in voting procedures, speaking for or against Items of Business, etc. We watched training videos and practiced together. It’s giving me ideas on how to be more efficient in moderating Session. A more well-informed Session can lead to better-informed decisions as we listen and follow the will of Christ. I’m grateful to have been elected as a commissioner and can’t wait to share more at our next Presbytery meeting.

Carolyn Purdy, Young Adult Advisory Delegate to the 226th General Assembly

Sunday, June 30, 2024

I am Carolyn Purdy from Gwynedd Square Presbyterian Church. I am the Philadelphia Presbytery’s Young Adult Advisory Delegate (YAAD) where my role is to advise on overtures given to the plenary with the perspective as a young adult, meaning envisioning future paths of the church. I was on the Mid-Council Committee where I was able to read and listen to all the Synod reports from all over the U.S. So far in Utah, I have attended the YAAD orientations and trainings where I have been able to meet and discuss overtures with my peers in a safe and accepting atmosphere. I attended and would like to thank the Community Grace Presbytery Church for inviting me to their worship service Sunday morning, it has been one of my favorite experiences.