Sunday, July 4, 2010

Report from the General Assembly 2


For moderator, it's Bolbach in four

By Leslie Scanlon, Outlook national reporter

MINNEAPOLIS - After four rounds of voting and some worry about technical difficulties with the electronic voting keypads, the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) elected as its moderator Cynthia Bolbach, a lawyer and the only elder in a six-person field.
Bolbach - tall, plain-spoken, with a crisp sense of humor - brings to the office decades of experience in church life, from the congregational to the national levels of the denomination.
She has served as a deacon and clerk of session for her congregation, as well as moderator of National Capital Presbytery, chair of the presbytery's Committee on Ministry and its interim general presbyter. She also serves as co-moderator of the Form of Government Task Force, which is bringing to this assembly a proposal - four years in the making - to streamline and make more flexible the denomination's Form of Government section of the Book of Order.
After the fourth-ballot, the candidate with the second-highest number of votes was Julia Leeth, a pastor from California, who earlier in the evening said she guessed she might be the most conservative of the candidates.
In that final ballot, Bolbach received 325 votes (51 percent) and Leeth 148 votes (23 percent), out of a six-person field. But Bolbach led from the start, winning 149 votes (30 percent) in the first ballot - with things splitting neatly from there, with four of the other five candidates drawing from 71 to 76 votes apiece that time around.
Before her election, Bolbach used a biblical analogy - drawn from the New Testament story of the friends who raised up a paralyzed friend, cut a hole in the roof of a building where Jesus was inside, and dropped their friend down into the room with Jesus.
The PC(USA) is paralyzed by uncertainty and fear about how to proclaim the gospel in the 21st century, Bolbach said. "You and I are the friends who can help our paralyzed denomination see Jesus," and be healed.