Sunday at the Assembly was a time to connect with the local churches. Many of us took buses in the morning to worship with the many multi-cultural churches, multi-generational churches, and African-American churches within the St. Louis metro area. Some went to First Pres in Ferguson, MO.
The coming together of different traditions was no more apparent than at the intimate, welcoming, warm and wonderful church of Cote Brilliante Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, a predominantly African-American church that had a lot more white faces than usual. The energy was palpable. The preaching was spot on. Despite the small choir there, the singing was mighty. The food was even better than the togetherness in worship!
And as the Assembly met in plenary in the afternoon, the spirit of our vast diversity in this denomination yet a deep commitment to togetherness continued. We heard from mission partners around the world, heard from the Way Forward Commission, and got a taste of the issues on the horizon.
Our Stated Clerk challenged this Assembly – that in this time of internal struggle, both historic and present, in this time in the church when we have been all to slow to adjust and engage in transformative change, J. Herbert asked us to commit that this be a turnaround assembly for this denomination. It can happen, he said, if we all commit to it, and embrace God’s vibrant new future for us.
As he said, I believe we are called to reform and not become the church of yesterday, not recapture the past, but to live into a vibrant new future.
Let me just say that with the “safe” election of our two co-moderators listed above, I sense a timidness to this Assembly. I hope I am wrong. I hope this Assembly is not one that falls short of the bold steps God is needing from us at this time. Because if I am right, this will not be a turnaround assembly like J. Herbert asks, but a limp step forward when big bold jumps are needed.
Perhaps I am selling us short, but I do not sense a bold new step forward this week. But just because this may be a sleepy assembly, needing to address the internal struggles of the church, it does not mean God does not have a vibrant new future planned for us. It does not mean God isn’t planting important seeds.
As I wrapped up my Sunday morning routine, I turned my attention to a walk down to the Arch – the Gateway to the West. It is big. If you have been here you know. It also has gone through a significant facelift to the surrounding grounds and a new Jefferson Expansion museum with a new entrance to the Arch which will open later this year.
I also walked through the Old Courthouse.
Yes that was a big flag, and it got me thinking – a lot of BIG things happened here in St. Louis, notably the Dred Scott Decision, which happened just down the hall from where I took this pic. The Dred Scott Decision was one important ingredient which led to the Scott’s being freed (again) and led to the Civil War and the end of slavery.
What many may not remember is that the Dred Scott case did not get much press back then. It was only years later as it came to the Supreme Court and added to the powder keg that led this country into civil war.
And so we come to St. Louis. We gathered in plenary to set the tone. And we headed off to committee that evening.
What does the future hold? We may not know. But we know WHO HOLD OUR FUTURE. With God much is possible. In fact, ALL things are possible.