A few post-GA words

Friends,

Here’s the final word on GA as pronounced by Google:


Google Alert for:
presbyterian gay “general assembly”
Presbyterians won’t ordain sexually active gays
Washington Blade – Washington,DC,USA
The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted against opening … in sexual relationships, but gay Presbyterians said … denomination’s 217th General Assembly in Birmingham …
Presbyterians: Non-celibate gays can be ordained
Atlanta Journal Constitution (subscription) – GA, USA
… Delegates at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) listen Tuesday to arguments on whether to allow leeway on the ordination of gay clergy and …
Presbyterians to Decide on Gay Clergy
Washington Post – United States
… to allow leeway on the ordination of gay clergy and … Delegates of the Presbyterian Church (USA) listen to … Holy Spirit,” during the 217th General Assembly of the …


Honest! Those three articles were posted sequentially just like that!!!

I was one of the folks at General Assembly. I sat through hour after tortuous hour of committee hearings, followed by hour after equally grueling hour of plenary.

But know that for me, the best part of GA was the portion of the Overture Advocates’ presentation on the Heartland overture to delete G6-0106.b from the Book of Order that I witnessed. (Unfortunately, the task force committee was right next door at the same time, and I was in that room for part of the OA presentation.)

My opinions (speaking only for myself, and not for any organization) are that: (1) we did not make all of the gains that we so want and need to make; (2) passage of the task force report was portrayed as SUCH a loss to the conservatives that we need to consider it as progressive (e.g.: putting one foot in front of the other); and (3) of course we will not be “out of business” organizationally or in any other way until the homophobic and discriminatory standards applied to us are removed from the Book of Order.

For those of us who are in presbyteries who have not elected commissioners to the 218th GA in San Jose in 2008, I suggest that our work begins today. We must develop, identify, elect, educate, and pray with as many supportive commissioners as possible. It is more than just a matter of identifying who is with us after the commissioners have been elected. If we work hard to get the right people going in the first place, much of our work will be done (and I say that knowing and believing that “Holy Spirit blowing through the assembly hall” stuff…). In some presbyteries like mine, this will mean encouraging presbytery leaders to have some kind of study and discernment group process in place for the next two years–and then participating in that forum. This is hard and risky work, especially for those in conservative presbyteries who might be subject to charges being filed, but that is a way of being able to tell our stories to those who most need to hear them. And it is in the telling of our stories that hearts and minds are moved.

Finally, I have strongly mixed feelings about the Moderator, Joan Gray. It is a great sadness to hear someone say that she cannot believe that we are part of God’s intention. It was also painful to hear her say that “I have great respect for gay and lesbian people who want to be accepted for who they are and who want to do the work to which they feel called. But I don’t feel homosexuality is God’s will for creation. It’s uncomfortable feeling that way, but I’m comfortable being uncomfortable until the ‘still small voice’ speaks to my soul and I’m convicted otherwise.” When some of our folks met with her and said that they think she is still on the learning path, I take a little heart. But I think of this statement of hers as a challenge to us to live as that “still small voice” and to get her back to feeling a discomfort about being uncomfortable…

Grace and peace,
Sonnie Swenston

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One Comment on “A few post-GA words”

  1. Reyes-Chow Says:

    Sonnie – Just stumbled upon your blog. Thanks for the thoughts as we get ready for the 218th.


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