Happy Wednesday FPCE Family,
We don't often talk about things happening within the Presbyterian Church (USA), which of course we at FPCE are members. Especially during this closure time, we've focused mostly on talking with each other and figuring out how we go about the business of "doing church" in the present and near future within our own congregation and Edgewood church family. However, there are things that are taking place in the larger portions of our denomination that may interest you, as they eventually trickle down to individual congregations. You'll recall that the governing structure we belong to as Presbyterians is: local congregation, which belongs to a presbytery, which is part of a regional synod, all that make up the national bi-annual gathering called the general assembly.
Believe it or not, the 224th General Assembly (GA) actually did take place 2 weeks ago. Due to the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in, they made the decision to move to an entirely virtual convention. Typically, these are days-long events that involve hundreds of volunteers, a host city, many churches opening their doors for special services, thousands of delegates from congregations across the country, reports of committees, and long debates and votes on a series of overtures and amendments in a tediously precise parliamentary process following Robert's Rules of Order. (Sunny and I participated in the closing worship back in 2012 when GA was held in Pittsburgh at the David Lawrence Convention Center...they were running over on the final plenary session and we patiently waited in the backstage area for well over an hour before they were ready for us to begin, so we got to hear how it all happens!).
Attached, you'll find a PDF summary of the actions by this year's GA. You'll note that no major policy or rules changes were voted upon in favor of addressing them in person at the next GA in 2 years. However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, some position statements and calls for action were adopted.
At the regional level, the Synod of the Trinity recently posted that they have begun a featured blog series called "Through My Eyes." Their description is as follows:
"During this time when the pandemics of both the coronavirus and our culture of racism cannot be ignored, this series titled “Through My Eyes” allows for those in the Synod’s bounds to share openly what they are experiencing on a regular basis. This is not meant to be a political forum, but instead a chance for people to express their personal feelings about what they are seeing and feeling during this unique time."
To read the first article, visit https://www.syntrinity.org/featured/through-my-eyes-i-am-not-ok/
Here in our own city, the General Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery, Sheldon Sorge, writes a regular message to the congregations in our area. His most recent letter from July 2, titled "Liberty and Justice for All," can be found (on their newly redesigned website...long overdue!) here: https://www.pghpresbytery.org/2020/07/liberty-and-justice-for-all/
In the absence of a pastor providing regular words of comfort, encouragement, and leadership, I thought it was worthwhile to hear what the leaders in our denomination are saying and doing. If you have a particular scripture, devotional, or site that you turn to for spiritual guidance that you think the members of our church family would benefit from, I'm happy to share in these email communications. My hope is to keep us feeling as connected as possible while we're not physically meeting...I will definitely admit it has felt odd and slightly unsettling in the past week not seeing any emails or texts from Michael as we were in the habit of communicating many times in a week.
One more final note/reminder: our sanctuary will be open for socially distanced congregation members to be seated in the back while we record the Sunday service on Friday at 1:00PM. The Rev. Kellie Weekley-Mills will again be at the pulpit. If you choose to attend: use the Swissvale Avenue entrance, wear a mask, use hand sanitizer, sit socially distanced in the back portion of piews, refrain from hugs, handshakes, and singing...but participating in the responses and prayers is encouraged!
The scripture in yesterday's "Upper Room" devotion encourages us in times of hardship to find the joy. From James 1:2-4...
2 My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. 3 After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing.