During his time as Moderator, Heath Rada invited the church into a season of discernment, asking questions about who we are, who we feel God is calling us to be, and what the essential expressions of our faith are today in the 21st century. This General Assembly opened with Riverside Conversations exploring the responses to the Identity Questions (click here for the link to that report).
We used those questions in Boston Presbytery, and our answers in small groups reflected the answers heard across the denomination. We embrace our Reformed theology and polity, and we believe the church should be at work in our communities, changing individual lives and striving for a just and equal society for all.
The actions of GA222 mirrored what we said about our identity. We took amazing steps forward as a denomination, making decisions on issues related to justice, peacemaking, and reconciliation that spoke clearly to our intention to engage all of the world in transformation and reformation. Not all of the decisions were positive: this assembly side-stepped the overture to divest from fossil fuels. Not all of the decisions were perfect: an apology to the LGBTQ community tried to straddle the middle ground and is not the full confession that many are longing for. Many decisions were moderated by financial issues, which were often brought to our attention as overtures were debated.
Overall, though, this assembly showed itself hungry to discuss how to care for each other, those whose voices are missing or silenced or barely audible, our world and our international human family. Lengthy debates around appropriate depedent care policies, apologies to communities we have been complicit in harming, fossil fuel divestment and the ongoing violence in the Middle East, including the devastating war in Syria and overwhelming tide of refugees, all pointed to a gathered group of commissioners and delegates committed to pursuing the great ends of the faith in tangible, real ways.
It was truly an honor to be present, to witness history made, to cheer on our faithful members as they wrestled, cried, spoke, led, prayed, worshiped, and voted together. It was a privilege to claim ties to both Boston and Northern New England, and see how we are part of leading this denomination forward. It was a blessing to go with very little sleep, lots of rushed meals, sore feet and legs from standing and walking, and an often tired mind from processing conversations and debates. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
If you'd like to read all the news, see pictures and videos, and learn more about the business of the assembly, visit the GA222 webpage. Now it is our challenge to live into the actions we have taken, and continue to boldly pursue the call of Christ to love our God and our neighbor.
Photo credit: Michael Whitman