Hundreds tuned in on Tuesday morning for worship as the third and final week of the 225th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) got underway. The prerecorded service was livestreamed via the GA225 website and Spirit of GA Facebook page. Presbyteries and churches from east to west coasts took part in the mix of traditional hymns, worship in dance, Scripture and message offered in a variety of languages and expressions.
Ruling Elder Yenny Delgado was the guest speaker for the service. A native of Peru, Delgado opened with a reflection on her family’s journey to citizenship in the United States.
“When I was growing up, I never imagined I would be sharing at the 225th General Assembly. I grew up in a community where my family struggled for food and housing,” she said. “My grandmother had fled the city for the countryside where she worked as a farmer for decades before the family made its way from Peru to Costa Rica and later to the United States.”
Delgado said that the three generations of her family had a challenging time finding a place to call home.
“We traveled thousands of miles from east to west and south to north. But we continued to be part of a Christian community wherever we were and always found a community of faith,” she said. “Despite the hardships, I grew up with a faith in God.”
Delgado reflected that the church was one of the few places her grandmother was welcomed and encouraged to learn. She added that she in turn learned to read the Bible in English and that deep study helped her hear God’s message for her.
Preaching from the Gospel of Luke 4:18–21, Delgado said Jesus’ message at the synagogue is prevalent to the church today.
“How do we receive the message from Jesus? This land has a painful past with colonization, poverty and many other problems around us,” she said. “As a church, how do we navigate this passage with all the weight of history?”
Delgado said that it is not easy to be an ecumenical and open church in the U.S., adding that it is a struggle that all denominations face.
“When community focuses on one majority, everything of God’s understanding is at risk, leading to isolation and more struggle,” she said. “Here is our call today. The church is trying to understand what it means to be a real community in this day and time. We need to be in the process of honest reflection and lament. We need to receive the message of God inside our own church. Lament helps us express sorrow of the past and allows us to see the hope of the future.”
Delgado concluded by saying the church has much to offer for healing, acceptance, growth and liberation.
“As my grandmother found a loving church and community, we can receive freedom of the past and begin the inclusionary practice of welcoming the stranger, welcoming the other and welcoming our neighbors,” she said. “Let us bring to the table a diverse multiethnic community with deep ancestral memories and spiritual practices. Together we can join in by saying, 'The Scripture is fulfilled.'”