General Assembly – Day 4

 

Day 4 is always a day of committee work.  The Assembly breaks up in teams of 40-150 or so, and listens to reports, gauges the work that needs to be done, and charts a path forward.

This morning was spent listening – to God, to each other, to corresponding members.  I was asked to speak to a couple committees and did so.  One of the committees was Committee 8 – Environmental Issues.

The issue of divestment is coming up again.  We all have different thoughts on this, but it is clear the Fossil Free folks are very organized, complete with t-shirts and koozies and propaganda throughout the Exhibit area.  I have been hit up a number of times.  I think I was asked to speak to divestment because I am from Oklahoma, knee-deep on dependence from the energy companies – like Devon, Chesapeake, and Halliburton.  I spoke to our Oklahoma context, and the wind farms all around, but the reality of our dependence of the fossil fuel industry at every turn.

“Here we sit in this lovely air conditioning, brought to you by the fossil fuel industry” I told Committee 8.  “Instead of divesting us from fossil fuel companies and pretending to have a clean conscious, shouldn’t we begin by confessing our utter dependence on fossil fuels?”

I believe Climate Change is THE most important issue before the church today.  I also happen to question whether divestment is the right path.  So I shared that – mainly because there were 40 speaking for divestment and only 3 against.  I was one of the 3 to provide some balance.  The other two were Deb Meinke from Cimarron Presbytery (no relation btw) who is a biologist and a scientist, and then also Valerie Young from Synod of the Sun.

There are so many things coming before this committee on significant importance.  And what those are may be unclear at this time.  It will unfold in the next few days as we see what the committees pick up, adopt, reconfigure, and how they present it.

There are some internal stresses and strains – namely the per capita issue and funding of the national church, but also how to organize it.

Joe Meinhart serves on the Mid Council committee which usually reviews minutes and takes a chill pill.  But not this time, with some difficulties in one of our synods, and questions of how to resource them or form a team to go in and help in a more “industrial strength” kind of way.

Melissa Gill serves on the Ecumenical and Interfaith Committee which is dealing with Presbyterian/Episcopal relations and also wrestling with numerous Korean denominations and how/to what extent to respond to issues of peace in the Korean peninsula.

My buddy Michael Blair, a Uniting Minister from Canada, will be preaching at a prayer breakfast on Wednesday, and I enjoyed getting to renew our friendship yesterday.  I hadn’t seen him since we were together at the World Council of Churches event in Busan, South Korea.

It was a fun and relaxing day for me.  I resourced a committee briefly until more help arrived.  Then I moved from place to place, checking in with the Way Forward Committee, Joe and Melissa’s committees, and then speaking to the Environmental Issues committee.

If you have never been to General Assembly, you should come some time.  It is a great opportunity for togetherness.  In so many ways – in mission and service to the churches – it is our denomination putting our best foot forward.

I only hope we can continue that trajectory of transformational change and relationship-building thoughtout the week

-Matt

 

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