Experiencing General Assembly

In fellowship and prayer.

I had the privilege of attending General Assembly last month as a visitor in my role with the Renewal Fellowship. Let me share some highlights of my time there.

I experienced General Assembly in WORSHIP.
General Assembly 141 was kicked off with wonderful opening worship that included uplifting singing and an inspiring sermon from Rev. Dr. Stephen Farris, moderator of the prior assembly. A highlight for me was the sharing of communion around the Lord’s Table. Each morning’s worship helped us begin our day together with energetic praise singing and thought-provoking sermons.

I experienced General Assembly in FELLOWSHIP.
One of the best things about General Assembly is the opportunity to connect with Presbyterians from across the country. It is a time to meet up with new friends and old. There is so much to share as we have so much in common.

I experienced General Assembly in PRAYER.
Prayer was such an important part of our time there. It started on the eve of Assembly with a small group walking the campus to each of the key spots where Assembly would happen and praying for the people and proceedings. It continued each morning with a group gathering to pray for Assembly that day, and in sederunts set aside for prayer alone. For many, the prayers of the Moderator, Rev. Karen Horst, beginning each sederunt, were powerful.

I experienced General Assembly in MINISTRY.
Just like my Encouragement Road Trips across Canada, I had opportunity to minister to some of our ministers engaging in deep conversation. These conversations ranged from desperation to great joy. I love that I can serve our church in this way.

I also got to sit with different combinations of commissioners processing the day’s happenings together. This provided other opportunities to encourage the discouraged and to point to our Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth and worthy of our faith and trust.

I experienced General Assembly in CONTROVERSY.
As I travelled Eastern Canada in May, I was made aware of the significant amount of anxiety surrounding this Assembly. The issues surrounding human sexuality that were on the docket elicit a full range of opinions and beliefs. There is potential for great division in our denomination.

I supported the attempt to have a time of conversation and a time of prayer this year; with a consideration of responses planned for the future.

As a supporter of the belief that all people should be welcome in Christ’s church but that there are biblical standards that inform our view of marriage and ordained leadership, I find myself worrying about our future together. I need to remind myself about Who is in charge and how much He has at stake.

I experienced General Assembly in HOPE.
The best part of my time in Vancouver was the irrepressible hope that invaded each day and many reports and conversations. There are some incredible stories of the Lord’s faithfulness and blessing across the country. If you are discouraged and find yourself thinking too much of lost causes and hopeless situations, you need to discover the new sprouts of life and growth, sometimes in unlikely places, that are showing up in the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

Published in The Presbyterian Record on July 1, 2015.