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A Letter from the General Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery

GA Insider 3
June 19, 2018

While Monday seems like a quiet day at GA, much goes on below the radar in committee work and special events.

I was blessed, along with many others, to hear our own Dave Carver participate in a panel at the World Mission luncheon. He did a superlative job of answering questions about the benefits and challenges of mission partnerships. A story about this luncheon is published here. Dave came to GA to advocate for our concurrence with the South Sudan Overture, calling on our government to promote peace in South Sudan, and on our church to strengthen its prayer for and mission partnerships with the church there. Later in the day, the Committee on Peacemaking, Immigration, and International Issues voted 58-1 to recommend that the full assembly adopt the overture.

On Monday I spoke to the Way Forward Committee in support of our concurrence with the Overture on per capita system review. The committee unanimously endorsed our overture, sending it to the full assembly for approval. I was also privileged to report to the Committee on Mission Coordination what has been done with Freedom Rising in response to last General Assembly’s directive to five pilot presbyteries to work on alleviating the plight of the African American male. Johnnie Monroe let the committee know all that has been done in Pittsburgh, then pled for increased national church commitments to fund and staff this work into the future.

Meanwhile, the Committee on General Assembly Procedures revised even further downward the GA per capita increase request, recommending by a 33-19 vote that the full assembly approve an increase of 10% per capita for the 2019 budget, and no increase at all in 2020. If approved by the full assembly, this will require the Office of the General Assembly to cut approximately $600,000 from its roughly $14 million per capita budget.

John Creasy arrived Sunday to begin advocating for our concurrence with an Overture on divestment from the fossil-fuels industry. This is one of the most controversial items before the assembly, something reflected in the committee’s 35-20 Monday vote to endorse the overture.

Finally, the Social Justice Issues Committee adopted our request to add to the Henry Highland Garnet recognition overture the note that he was founding pastor of Pittsburgh’s Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church 150 years ago. The committee unanimously approved the revised overture for assembly approval.

Each of these committee recommendations is subject to endorsement, rejection, or revision by the full assembly later in the week. Of these five actions, those most susceptible to revision are the per capita increase and fossil-fuels actions, given the divided committee votes. Stay tuned!

Live from St. Louis,

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

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