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A Letter from the Pastor to Presbytery

General Assembly
Sunday July 1, 2012

Opening day at General Assembly is always a big deal, and yesterday was no exception. The Moderator for the Assembly is elected Saturday evening, an event that is always momentous. But before we get to that, let’s step back to the very beginning of the Assembly, as four thousand people gathered in opening worship yesterday afternoon.

GA ordinarily begins on Saturday with a business session, while opening worship waits until Sunday morning. With this year’s GA guests slated to worship in our congregations today, we moved our big opening worship to the very first time slot on the Assembly agenda, Saturday afternoon. So before any business transpired, we set a tone for this Assembly by first lifting up our hearts and voices in worship to the Lord, asking for God’s blessing on our gathering, and hearing the preaching of God’s word.

What a difference the first step makes! When we are constituted first of all as a community whose attention is focused on God’s greatness and love rather than our needs and wishes, we do the church’s business from a very different perspective. I hope and trust that the tone of Christ-centered devotion set in yesterday’s opening worship will continue through the remainder of this Assembly.

And what a glorious service of worship it was! More than three hundred folk from all over the region formed an outstanding choir that sang beautifully under the superb direction of Michael Frank of the Oakmont Church. Rev. Jean Henderson and her team planned a worship service that was beautifully majestic from start to finish. Moderator Cynthia Bolbach preached a stirring sermon from her wheelchair, and our unity was made visible as we all joined together at the Table of the Lord. My heart burst with delight (and more than a little pride) as I saw so many dear friends serving as ushers, communion servers, singers, musicians, and worship leaders. What a glorious event it was!

Immediately following worship, Pittsburgh Presbytery presented a stirring video tribute to the history and beauty of our region, with a special live appearance by “Mr. McFeely” to welcome all our guests into our neighborhood. Finally the Assembly was ready to get down to business, electing the Rev. Dr. Neal Presa, a New Jersey pastor of Filipino origin, as our leader for the remainder of the Assembly, as well as the two years to come. Both he and his vice moderator, the Rev. Tara McCabe of Washington D.C., are extraordinarily energetic and gifted young pastors. Let us hold them in prayer for the leadership to which God has called them.

This morning our guests are visiting our congregations to worship with us. Then they return to the Convention Center to continue with the business of the Assembly for the remainder of the day. Let us trust them all into the Lord’s good hands, praying that they would enjoy good rest, so they would have all the energy, intelligence, imagination, and love they need to do well the task that is set before them in the days ahead. I ask you especially to hold in prayer today our commissioners by name: Ralph, Joyce, Fred, Diana, Frank, Lynn, Jeff, Tami, and Peter, as well as our advisory delegates Jo-Ann and Amanda. Lord, give them great delight in and strength for their calling this week!

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge, Pastor to Pittsburgh Presbytery

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