The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly writes to share our enthusiasm for the upcoming 221st General Assembly (2014) meeting next June in Detroit, to report on a recent visit to the city, and to ask all who plan to attend the assembly to do three things to promote racial reconciliation, Christian fellowship, and economic justice.
We heard the concerns about the suitability of Detroit as the location for the assembly expressed by some Presbyterians immediately after the City of Detroit filed for municipal bankruptcy in July. To show our commitment to our denomination’s decision to meet in Detroit, and because we wanted to become familiar with the assembly location, we completed a productive, successful, and enjoyable meeting earlier this month in Detroit.
Our agenda included a meeting with leaders of the Presbytery of Detroit’s Committee on Local Arrangements (COLA) and the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau. We experienced the lodging and daily commute that assembly attendees will experience by traveling via the Detroit People Mover from our hotel to the Cobo Center, the assembly site. We saw Cobo Center plenary and exhibit halls and the nearby common areas, and also toured downtown Detroit and three neighborhoods by bus.
We left Detroit feeling not only that the concerns we heard expressed had been addressed, but also with enthusiasm for what the experience of an assembly in Detroit could mean for individual Presbyterians who attend, and for the PC(USA) as a denomination.
In that spirit, we invite all General Assembly attendees to commit to the following three things:
- Participate in a unified, on-site event that honors Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, first given in Detroit two months prior to King delivering it in Washington;
- Affirm the PC(USA)’s life as a connectional church by bringing an item with you, as guided by COLA and specified closer to assembly, in support of Detroit congregations and the communities they serve;
- Leave tangible signs of appreciation with Detroit service-providers you encounter, such as a $5-a-day gratuity for the housekeeper who cleans your hotel room.
We believe these three actions will allow Presbyterians to witness to the residents of Detroit, publicly and privately, on the issues of economic justice, racial justice, and Christian fellowship. We envision this witness to be one of many opportunities for the PC(USA) to live out the assembly theme—Abound in Hope—in ways that will inspire both our host city and us.