For Kathy Lueckert, president of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, the 225th General Assembly, with its hybrid setup, may look different than the previous 224 assemblies. But at least one valuable gift remains the same for commissioners, advisory delegates and the staff members that serve the Assembly.
“More than anything,” Lueckert told GA Live host Fred Tangeman Wednesday, “we still see God and find God in each other, even behind masks.”
Wednesday marked Lueckert’s second appearance on GA Live. Listen to her 20-minute conversation with Tangeman, a reporter in the Office of the General Assembly, here. A report of their first conversation is here.
Lueckert said safety measures to keep the 500 or so people visiting the Presbyterian Center during two weeks of committee work “really served all of us well,” with Covid vaccines, boosters and mask-wearing required of everyone in the building. Of those 500 visitors, 25 reported receiving a positive Covid test. “That’s pretty remarkable,” Lueckert said, “when you think of people coming from near and far and being concentrated in one space. It was really due to people’s cooperation and good spirit we were able to manage this so well.”
Tangeman noted that committee leaders stuck to the staggered schedule for lunch and breaks, even if they occurred at the peak of an item of business. He wondered: Are there long-term lessons to be learned?
“To some degree, that remains to be seen,” Lueckert said. While many people are “willing to sacrifice for a short amount of time, over the long haul, people let their guard down. We had good advice from the Covid advisory panel, we were consistent with our message and people cooperated.”
Lueckert called the Global Language Resources staff “rock stars,” especially considering the mostly one-on-one assistance they provided to commissioners and advisory delegates during committee meetings. Their focus will broaden during plenaries, she said, “to being more group oriented.”
“We look forward to providing more opportunities for language access in the future,” Lueckert said.
Asked about how the amenities in the new conference facility have worked so far, Lueckert specifically mentioned one that may have over-performed: the beverage center.
“I called it the church kitchen, because that’s how it functioned,” Lueckert said. “People felt comfortable like they would in their own congregation” to “get refreshments and interact with each other and staff.” Lueckert expressed kudos to Debbie Gardiner, executive assistant to the president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, “who made people feel at home.”
“We look forward to hosting other meetings in the future to make this marvelous facility [the entire conference center] available to the whole church,” Lueckert said.
Lueckert said she took home at least two significant memories from the first two weeks of the Assembly.
The first came from the relatively small crowds present during each of the four rounds of committee meetings. That gave staff, commissioners and advisory delegates ample opportunity to interact. “That would have been far more difficult in a convention center environment,” Lueckert said. “Having that interaction was a great thing.”
“I also noticed,” she told Tangeman, “that we are more of one mind than we have been, perhaps in many years. We aren’t fighting about issues [including bringing about social justice] as we once did. It gives us more time to mess around with our internal stuff,” including the very structure of the PC(USA).
GA Live is broadcast at 10 o’clock Eastern Time each day of the 225th General Assembly. View the daily conversations here.