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A Letter from the General Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery

GA Insider 1
June 17, 2018

Welcome to the 2018 edition of my daily General Assembly reports! The heat is on in St. Louis, with daily highs through Monday reaching near 100 degrees. GA generates its fair share of heat on its own; add the outdoor temperatures, and we are in quite the pressure cooker.

Friday evening everyone gathered for a plenary party in the Convention Center’s common area, with a variety of signature St. Louis dishes being served at stations scattered throughout the hall, and great gospel and jazz music provided by local artists. Candidates for Moderator held a meet and greet during the festivities, preparing for a full day of more formal meetings on Saturday. It all culminated Saturday evening in the election of Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintron-Olivieri (Miami) and Rev. Cindy Kohlmann (Boston) as Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly on the fourth ballot. Even though voting was very close, their election elicited shouts of joy across the Assembly.

The Assembly convened with a mass worship service Saturday morning, with Presbyterians from around the region joining those visiting to attend GA in lifting their voices in praise and their hearts in dedication. Outgoing Co-Moderators Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston challenged the assembly to seek the “good success” promised to Joshua as he began leading Israel into Canaan. They pointed out that this success is marked not by metrics of prosperity, but by effectiveness in fulfilling God’s just purposes faithfully.

One key emphasis that emerged in the Moderator candidacy conversations, as well as in worship and early plenary sessions, was our urgent need to invest more fully in reaching out to people on the margins in the name of our Lord Jesus. In a time when many voices clamor for protection of our own interests, we believe God is calling us to seek the interests of others, even if it means leaving treasured comfort zones.

Sunday morning we scatter to nearby congregations to join them in Lord’s Day worship before we convene for another plenary session in the afternoon. Saturday’s and Sunday’s plenary sessions are given to orienting commissioners to Assembly procedures, as well as hearing messages from people representing various faith communities and mission agencies from within our church and beyond.

Finally, commissioners will disperse Sunday evening into their committees for the purpose of community formation. They will continue to gather in these committees through Tuesday, before aggregating again in plenary assembly for the remainder of the week.

Have a blessed Lord’s Day, saints back home!

Yours in our shared life,

The Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge, General Minister

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