In Spirit and Truth seeks to encourage discussion and deeper consideration of representation issues in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It is hoped entries will prompt reflection and dialogue on aspects of expanding representation and supporting full participation in the PCUSA, especially at the assembly and mid council levels.
This blog will occasionally feature content written by one of the fourteen members of the General Assembly Committee on Representation, who are church members, ministers (teaching elders) and ruling elders from across the country, as well as links and articles of particular interest. The ministries of advising, consulting, advocating, promoting inclusion, reviewing and recommending actions are vital to the life of the whole Body of Christ. Committees on Representation and/or their functions exists at all councils above session so from time to time we may highlight activities and insights from sister committees on representation at lower councils throughout the church.
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. or the General Assembly Committee on Representation.
Author/Facilitator Molly Casteel is an Assistant Stated Clerk and the Manager for Equity and Representation in the Office of the General Assembly. She is a teaching elder (a.k.a. Minister of Word and Sacrament) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.
I’m guessing my memory of days long ago when I was in school is responsible for the persistent idea that summer should be slower and more relaxing. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the longer days and sunlight and I revel in the delicious fresh veggies and fruits that fill the farmer's market and neighbors gardens, but time this year is not readily available for rest.
There was the 221st General Assembly in June, which adds to the tasks and roles I juggle professionally. So many worked long hours for months so that the two weeks in Detroit would be productive and faithful. Debates may fly about decisions, but the event was a marvel of community building and connection.
In the aftermath, I’ve had only one weekend at home since returning from Detroit: one weekend where I was not on the road or hosting a house guest. I feel as if I’m still in a bit of a physical and mental haze. As an introvert I need time to recharge… and there's been precious few moments to do so, that will come later.
This week I’m off to the 15th National Multicultural Church Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. The theme is “Journeying and Awakening into God’s Diverse World.” It’s going to be an amazing gathering from across the abundant diversity in the US and with my ecumenical hat on, a time to connect with folks from across the globe. Many of my colleagues from the board of the Ecumenical Network for Multicultural Ministries (ENFORMM) in North America and International will be presenting content and participating in the conference. I hope that if you are in the area you might consider joining us for a day or longer. On-site registrations will be available.
I'm working with teams of folks who will present 9 hours of workshops during the event, a panel on Saturday and a post-event. I hope we might connect while there - so give me a shout out on Twitter or by email so we can find one another.
When I return there’s so much to tell you about… process observation at GA221, stories from NMCC, and great new reads for folks who care about connecting across this great big family God has given to us. That's a short list.
This week was another anniversary for the ADA -- we did a post about it last year and I recommend it to you. The work continues, but if we do not stop and appreciate what we have done, it makes the work that much more difficult. Happy 24th Anniversary!
Until then, may you find those pockets of peace available in the way things are and may you be restored with rest so that you may rejoin the struggles for reconciliation and connection that we and the world needs so much.
Have you ever wondered what participation looks like in real time at General Assembly? Are you attending GA221 in Detroit? Do you enjoy seeing the church do its work in committee?
We are recruiting observers of committee business during the 221st General Assembly (2014). We've learned that we need a full diversity and representation in the observers - everyone sees and hears the action before them a little differently. The more observers, the better picture we get of what's happening in participation.
It is said that a group working in committee is like making sausage. We are looking for ...
Presbyterians love to abbreviate and use acronyms as we navigate life in councils and in relationship. This tendency can obfuscate communication. Below I humbly offer a simple list of common acronyms used during General Assembly meetings which may be helpful. If you have more to add or acronyms that you’d like to have defined – simply comment and I’ll add more.
The main roles of participants of any assembly are:
Elected by presbyteries, teaching elders (aka, Ministers of Word and Sacrament), have voice and vote in committee meetings as well as any business meeting of ...
In just a few weeks, Commissioners and Advisory Delegates from all across the US and Puerto Rico will gather in Detroit for the 221st General Assembly (2014). Presbyteries determine who most of the folks are who will discern the will of the Living God for the PCUSA making decisions large and small. Many are already praying for these 800+ folks who are busy preparing for the work of the 14 assembly committees and attending to the wider business before the larger body. I'll focus on Teaching Elder Commissioners in this first post.
In looking at the chosen ...
The General Assembly Committee on Representation at its bi-annual meeting in late October held discussions, participated in training and wrestled with issues of Cultural Proficiency in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). Personally, my participation in such training began in about 1980 when I worked to train church based child care programs, their leaders and staff, about Cultural Diversity, Cultural Proficiency and Cultural Competency. Most programs then and church bodies today have much to learn from these elements. The Synod GACOR Representatives and others attending the training in Chicago this past October, struggle with basic questions of what is diversity ...