The Valley Bridge
General Assembly Edition
June 20, 2016
The View from Portland

A famous author once wrote something about the best laid plans of mankind going astray, and I think that I have fallen afoul of that maxim. I should have practiced on Constant Contact before leaving Willmar, and I should have remembered how full and exhausting a day at General Assembly can be, especially for someone battling sciatica. Oh well, "we get too soon old and too late smart", and the promise of regular updates from General Assembly will not materialize as I had hoped.
 
Most of the hard news from General Assembly is currently available from a multitude of sources and it would not make sense to duplicate those efforts. So, I will do my best to give you some reflections on the experiences we are having here in Portland, and will also try to get our folks to share some insights as well.
 
The Assembly opened up on Saturday morning with nearly three thousand people joining together in a worship celebration that featured music provided by a mass choir, a worship band, traditional organ, piano, and handbells. The singing was spirited and the tone of the service was hopeful. The spirit of hopefulness was woven together with a call for reconciliation.
 
On Saturday evening, Denise Anderson of Washington D.C. and Jan Edmiston of Chicago were elected the first Co-Moderators of the Assembly. Denise and Jan spoke with passion about their sense of call to lead the church in this time and place. They talked boldly and unapologetically about the future of the PC (U.S.A.). They received 76% of the votes on the first ballot.
 
On Sunday morning, the General Assembly community spread out over the metro area to attend worship in the congregations of Cascade Presbytery. I attended the Springwater Presbyterian Church in Estacada, about 45 miles south and a bit east of Portland. There I heard Neil Presa, Moderator of the 220th General Assembly, preach from the Acts. The worship in this 60-member congregation was lively and the lunch fellowship was most tasty - especially with the freshly picked Oregon blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and strawberries. It was fruit overload!
 
In the afternoon, our own Scott Prouty spoke from the podium as part of the report of the Stated Clerk Search Committee. Scott sparkled, as always, and the committee presented its candidate, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson. The election will be held on Friday.
 
We are now in the time of committee work. While the committees meet, your TEP spent the day on Monday checking in on two committees, making contacts on behalf of our presbytery, and visiting with colleagues and friends from across the country.
 
The two important contacts were with our new area representative from the Board of Pensions, Kenneth Green, and our new Mission Engagement and Support person from the Presbyterian Mission Agency, Linda Carter. Ken will begin to phase into his work with us this fall; Linda is on board now, and we have invited her to come to Minnesota for our November presbytery meeting. Even though Linda lives in Nashville, she knows about Minnesota, having had her daughter graduate this past year from Carleton College. It will be great to have these two people as resources.
 
The committees that I checked in with were the Mid-Council and Mission Coordination committees. The conversation in Mid-Council focused on the significance of our Korean-speaking PCUSA congregations and initiatives to bridge some gaps in support their continued growth within and presence within the PCUSA.  In Mission Coordination, much of the conversation focused on the funding of the denomination's mission. I didn't get a chance to check in with Andy Davis and Chuck Moore regarding their committees' work, but I did see Elizabeth Prouty, our YAAD, and she appeared anything but overwhelmed, so life in her committee must be good . . . for now!
 
This evening, I was part of a group of 15 GA participants who joined with some other volunteers to do some work at the Oregon Food Bank. The group re-packed a little over seven tons of carrots in two hours. My contribution to the effort was labelling four hundred bags for the re-packaging of pinto beans. It was a great evening, and again the conversation with "new" colleagues made the evening enjoyable.
 
Well, that is about it from Portland on Monday. For the hard news, please check out the GA Daily News at www.pcusa.org/news
 
Until our next report, from all of us here in Oregon . . .

Grace and Peace,

Rick
Some Pictures from GA



Some of our folks on Saturday

Scott Prouty speaking at GA
Worship at Springwater (five pictures)

Moderator Neal Presa preaching

Greeting the Co-Moderators
Former Moderator Bruce Reyes Chow "warming" his hands over the PCUSA Camp and Conference ministries campfire
Part of the seven tons of carrots
waiting to be bagged.
Rick's new look
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