Tuesday of the General Assembly is both one of the most relaxed days, but also one of the most interesting. Committees wrapped up their business, and as is the case, some finish before others. So many are looking for things to do. Other friends are stuck behind, serving on committees with hefty agendas and going long into the night trying to finish.
I sat in some of those committees in the morning. Some were “stuck in the weeds” as it were, like the Way Forward Committee. I’m not sure we will ever find our WAY FORWARD. By day’s end the clouds had broken, I hear.
I say it was one of the most interesting, because I also sense that we are finding our voices. Presbyterians are getting louder. Frozen Chosen no more. I sense us stepping out and finding our voice when it comes to systemic injustice.
Knowing this dynamic of Tuesday’s flexible time, our Stated Clerk, J. Herbert Nelson, had asked the Assembly to engage in a bit of raising their voices. That is exactly what Tuesday was. $47,000 had been raised during the offering time of Opening Worship, raised to be used to help end the injustice of the Cash/Bail system.
And so we marched, gathering first in the Assembly Hall at 3pm, and many of us marched to the Justice Center in downtown St. Louis. We raised our voices demanding Bail Reform, armed with our $47,000 dollars which we used to bail out as many non-violent offenders as we could. It was an encouraging and empowering time. It was also hot. 98 degrees I think. But there is steam gathering. We are finding our voices as a denomination, armed and ready to fight systemic injustice wherever it is – yesterday in the racist, unjust system of cash/bail. This problem is particularly relevant here in St. Louis and Ferguson that has been ripped apart by racial inequalities.
Many of us had engaged in a noon-time rally for Immigration as well. And so I sense us finding our voice. No longer is General Assembly a time to remain in the frozen air-conditioned convention hall, but a time to engage with the community.
J. Herbert also took some time on Tuesday to respond to the Trump administration’s new policy of separating young children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. He issued a statement from the Office of the Stated Clerk condemning the policy: “What has this nation become? How have we wandered so far from Jesus’ kind admonition, ‘Let the little children come to me…'” He also criticized the Justice Department’s stated use of the policy as a “deterrant” to immigration and accused the administration of cherry picking scripture, saying that using Romans 13:1 to argue for “obeying the law” which ignoring the higher scriptural demand of Romans 13:10 that “love is the fulfilling of the law” is just blatant misuse of the Bible.
I hope and pray our voices will continue to get louder. We need to step up and speak out. I have had enough being quiet.
Wednesday brings with it a new day. We head back into plenary. Committee recommendations end, and decisions about the way forward begin.