Theological Student Advisory Delegates with their mentor, Martha Miller (right in blue shirt). —Photo by: Emily Enders Odom

Addressing both the minutiae and the gravitas of a General Assembly with equal measures of grace and good humor, Martha Miller, manager for ruling elder resources and educator certification for the Office of the General Assembly, oriented the Assembly’s 15 Theological Student Advisory Delegates (TSADs) to the adventure that awaits them at the 223rd General Assembly.

But first, she had a little fun.

Miller — now in her fifth year advising and resourcing the Assembly’s TSADs — invited self-introductions by asking the seminarians to share their name, seminary, presbytery of care, and lastly, to compare their day to an amusement park ride.

With responses ranging from roller coaster, Ferris wheel, log jam, Space Mountain, and even the Tower of Terror’s “quick drop,” the seminarians good-naturedly described the (in some cases) harrowing flight ordeals and sleep-deprived nights that at last have delivered them here.

This Assembly’s 15 TSADs represent 13 theological institutions, not all of which are related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). For the first time, TSADs were selected not by their seminaries but rather by an application process. While students who apply must be inquirers or candidates under care of a PC(USA) presbytery, they need no longer be enrolled in a PC(USA) seminary.

“I’m excited to be here in the history of the General Assembly, even though I’m not a student in a PC(USA) seminary,” said Forrest Foxworth, a member of First Presbyterian Church, Fernandina Beach, Fla., in the Presbytery of St. Augustine, and a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Jacksonville.

As Miller walked the TSADs through everything from self care to how to find their seats on the plenary floor, she encouraged them all to take full advantage of the opportunity before them.

“This a great place for you as a TSAD, because there are so many resources available to you,” she said. “This is an opportunity for you for discernment, to see how the GA works, to network, to reach out to mid council leaders regarding future leadership needs, and to just take it all in.”