News

The 224th General Assembly Underway

By Rev. David Oyler, Executive Presbyter
Posted June 23, 2020

With groundbreaking actions the General Assembly began on June 19.

Some of the “firsts” in this new era:

General Assembly gathered electronically—without too many glitches. 

Not surprisingly, the Friday evening Session took longer than anticipated. In light of that fact, it became necessary to schedule a Saturday evening Session—again an unprecedented action on short notice, to alter the schedule that significantly.

The lengthy Friday evening agenda was created due to the desire to consider some items that were originally scheduled to be deferred to 2022. Two items, on native Americans, were drawn out for further discussion next week. Others were passed along to 2022, including the overture from Beaver-Butler Presbytery on compensation of pastors when released from a pastoral position.

Commissioners were encouraged to participate virtually in the Poor People’s Campaign on Saturday. One of the speakers was Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson.

Saturday evening included the election of co-moderators. Elona Street-Stewart and Gregory Bentley were elected on the first ballot. They were the only team seeking election from which both candidates were persons of color. Street-Stewart, a ruling elder and the synod executive for the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, is the first Native American to serve as moderator; Bentley, a teaching elder and the pastor of Fellowship Presbyterian Church in Huntsville, Alabama, is African American. They have chosen the Sankofa bird as the symbol of their shared leadership —a bird that flies forward yet always is looking back—learning from the past and anticipating the future. They were elected on the first ballot with a larger majority than has been seen in quite some time.

Your commissioners—Teaching Elder Mary Kitchen and Ruling Elder Chip McCoy served in faithful fashion. Their service continues on June 26 and 27, beginning at 1 p.m. You are encouraged to participate in the live streaming (https://ga-pcusa.org/) as well as the General Assembly worships, deliberates and celebrates in these coming days.