At the start of day by my calculation, we were at least 4 hours behind docket. With 11 of the 19 committees yet to report, it appeared from the get-go that this day would never end. Of course, we spent 30 precious minutes debating how we might streamline our work. Sigh!
So after a short night’s rest, we began where we left off – the Middle East and Peacemaking Report had been left unfinished. The front page of the local Pittsburgh Post-Gazette declared, “Presbyterian Church USA Turns Down Divestment by 2 Votes”. The article included, “The Rev. Sam Picard of Gennesee (sic) Valley Presbytery told the assembly that the occupation was ‘unjust’ and ‘corrosive to Israel’s democracy.’ He had feared damaging relationships with Jews, but conversations with Jewish supporters of divestment during the week had showed him that ‘that consensus is not true. The Jewish community is diverse.’” A motion to reconsider divestment was brought forward, discussed again and eventually defeated again. It took all morning to finish the remainder of the Middle East items.
Did you catch the misspelling of “Gennesee”?! Doesn’t anyone around here drink Genny beer?? Or maybe they do (which may be why they insist on the extra “n”).
With still 10 reports to hear – including Civil Unions – PGV commissioners guessed on the time of the evening’s recess. The earliest guess was 11pm; the latest 1:30am. Who will be right? Thankfully our opening song today reminded us that we ALL are children of God while we run this race. But let’s be clear – this race was a marathon.
At 1:50pm, the order of the day finally was upon us. From the Assembly Committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues, the proposed change: “Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage is a civil contract covenant between a woman and a man two people, and according to the laws of the state also constitutes a civil contract. For Christians marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman two people are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship. In a service of Christian marriage, two people make a lifelong commitment is made by a woman and a man to each other, publicly witnessed and acknowledged by the community of faith.” The motion to make these changes failed 303-338-2. After more than six hours, the Committee on Civil Unions completed its report with the approval of a two-year study on marriage, and disapproval of an authoritative interpretation to ensure pastoral discretion, brought by Genesee Valley (spelled correctly).
There was still so much more to do. What can I say – free coffee service kept us going as well as frequent-to-the-microphone commissioner Ed Norris (St. Augustine Presbytery) repeatedly calling the question with the refrain, “MRA!!” (Moving Right Along) Ed gained near super-hero status by the end of the long night. The Immigration Report began at 10:40pm; Mission Coordination at 11:10pm. At that report’s conclusion at 12:35am, well I gave up (with four more committees to report) and made the long walk back to the hotel. Does listening to the live stream until 1:30am count as attendance??
I am simply too tired to write anymore. Tomorrow morning will be here soon (technically, it already is) and there is packing and checking out to do, finishing business, closing worship and a journey home. I look forward to sharing more about our experiences here with you. Come visit me in Resource Center in the near future!
P.S. Deepest thanks to Linda Badger Becker for providing the photos earlier this week, and my apologies for not having my camera batteries charged today.