Thoughts on the General Assembly by advisory delegates.
So what is next? As our General Assembly begins to come to a close and we return home, what will we do and what will we say? Too many times, I feel that General Assemblies come with painful regularity, not painful in that we hate going, but rather our aversion arises after the Assembly. The pain comes when we return to our congregations and presbyteries and the things our members get to hear are the ways we messed up or the manner in which our particular side was slighted. Many times what our members do not hear are the stories of joy and unity that take place at our General Assembly; these are the stories Presbyterians need to hear. In an age where change happens as fast as some Presbyterians update their Twitter pages, these reflections of unity and celebration are essential to our denominational health.
Before plenary, we were invited to hear stories of churches doing great mission such as increasing neighborhood relationships or engaging in skateboarder ministry. These are examples of hope and excitement within the PCUSA! If all our commissioners and advisory delegates returned to their places of community and encouraged others to continue similar stories, what great things could be next for the PCUSA? These narratives have the ability to inspire discussions on new, creative, and innovative ways of being the Church. At the heart of being Presbyterian is the principle belief that our discernment is best done when we gather together. Being able to gather in one place, as one people, for the one Church is a powerful and transformative experience--one in which dramatically shapes future generations.
Being in a room full of young adult advisory delegates that are vibrantly enthusiastic about the future of each other and our denomination, happily forces me to look ahead to great things after this Assembly. At Thursday morning’s plenary session, YAADs led the Assembly in an energizer (goofy dance) during some technical difficulty. The dancing loosened commissioners and raised everyone’s spirits. Just because we are at a business meeting does not require us to check our sense of humor at the door. Not only have YAADs kept things light hearted and enjoyable, but have reminded the Assembly of a promising future. To effectively do the work of Jesus Christ in the world today, we must be able to laugh at ourselves and at the same time get the word out on the great things our denomination is doing for God’s people.
My hope is that all of us may leave Minneapolis with the hope and energy of the Spirit. Let us continue the good work displayed here. May we enter the world lighthearted, but earnest in our mission. Let us walk, laugh, and love together as we follow the Spirit wherever it may lead.
Grace and Peace,
by Michael East and Caroline Sherard
Co-moderators of the 219th General Assembly Young Adult Advisory Delegates