Friday, June 24, 2016

Reflections on the Meeting of the 2016 General Assembly: Part Five

Social Justice Committee: Item 11 - 05

Very important words:

After a careful and long time of selecting the proper words, the paragraph copied here was approved by the General Assembly. This language does not include an explicit "apology". The question about whether the church should apologize was central to the debate around this issue. The original overture from New York City Presbytery was an explicit apology. This is not a constitutional issue, and this language is not intended to be added to the Book of Order. This is simply a statement approved by the General Assembly. This compromise language passed 463 YES to 51 NO:

"Followers of Jesus Christ know that no person can claim divine favor through personal merit, but only by the grace of God. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) acknowledges that actions we and our members have taken over the years have at times led God’s beloved children who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning to feel that they stand outside the grace of God and are unwelcome in the PC(USA).  We deeply regret that, due to human failings, any person might find cause to doubt being loved by God. We affirm the God-given dignity and worth of every human being, and renew our commitment to ‘welcome one another, as Christ has welcomed [us], for the glory of God.’ [Romans 15:7]"

Reflections of the meeting of the 2016 General Assembly: Part Four

The NEXT Church Report: Denominational Listening Campaign around Transformational Mission

In addition to the "We Gather at the Table" church-wide survey which was inspired by Moderator Heath Rada, there is another resource that should be widely considered. The NEXT Church sponsored a series of listening visits across the denomination and their report is now available on their website. This report is very important. The conclusion of the direct connection between "congregational vitality" and "missional engagement" has become a foundational truth for the church today.

These discussion questions quoted from the NEXT Church report are vital:

Questions Going Forward 
● What does denominational participation mean today? 

● Where are the spaces to work through foundational questions that are not about voting? (Questions such as, what is mission? What is the role of the presbytery?) 

● Is mission the threshold/entry space that worship was in previous era? If so, what resources exist (or need to be created) to help integrate education and spiritual development through mission, if that’s where people are engaging first?