Here is a copy of the report I sent back to my presbytery today …
These reports arenâ€™t about the decisions of GA â€¦ Iâ€™m sure by now you already know what happened with the PUP report; itâ€™s all over the news services and Presbyterian bloggers are already giving their opinions. I want to write about the stuff thatâ€™s NOT in the media reports.
Today I was really impressed with the use of prayer in this assembly as we tackled the most controversial reports. Earlier in the assembly as our vice-moderator was making his acceptance speech, he said the church had to PUSH hard â€¦ PUSH, meaning Pray Until Something Happens. Weâ€™ve always prayed at meetings, but today we had some time for very intentional prayer. Before the Ecclesiology Committee report our moderator led us in a time of extended prayer. She asked that all the doors were closed so that no one could enter the room while we were praying. Then she offered a time of guided meditation as we opened ourselves up as an assembly to allow the Spirit of Christ to work in and through us. She asked that we picture ourselves walking up to the communion table in our home churches, placing our desires for todayâ€™s decisions on the table and conversing with Jesus about it. After a time of silence as we imagined together, we sang â€œSpirit of the Living Godâ€ and the room was filled with harmonies â€¦ good music, I thought, is in the harmonies. Unity doesnâ€™t always mean unison.
Iâ€™ve witnessed the sexuality discussions many times before, and sometimes they have been downright nasty. I didnâ€™t sense that today. For the most part, all the comments were passionate but respectful. Of course there was the usual politicking and the spin to sway the assembly to vote one way or another. But â€¦ mostly, all appropriately shared.
I am continually blown away by the closeness of the votes. When it comes to the issue of ordination standards, our members, elders, and pastors are divided. I thought it was a good sign, though, that we were taking the spirit of the PUP report to heart, when there was no cheering, no whooping or hollering, no audible response at all in the assembly hall, except the moderator asking us to stand and join hands in prayer. We were asked to pray â€¦ we chose to pray in silence. No one uttered a sound, but we were united in prayer. The silent prayer was not just a â€œmoment of silenceâ€ either â€¦ it was extended prayer time. In fact, Mary Marcotte mentioned to me just a few minutes ago that it was uncomfortably long â€¦ thatâ€™s good, I think. We need to pray until weâ€™re uncomfortable .. we need to pray until something happens.