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Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ◆ 223 General Assembly 2018

June 18, 2018

Kindom building for the 21st Century.

PC(USA) recognizes three with Women of Faith Award

Presbyterian clergywomen honored for their efforts to challenge racism and oppression by Gail Strange

The Rev. Amantha Barbee. (Michael Whitman)

ST. LOUIS — Three outstanding Presbyterian clergywomen who are “woke” were honored for their determined efforts to challenge systemic racism and oppression during today’s Women of Faith Awards Breakfast at the 223rd General Assembly (2018) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) here.. The PC(USA)’s Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries recognized the

The Rev. Karen Hernandez-Granzen. (Michael Whitman)

three clergywomen for their work for transformative change and their efforts to end racism and injustice. The 2018 Women of Faith honorees are: • the Rev. Amantha Barbee, the pastor of Statesville Avenue Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, serves on the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations. She

Music man

Faced with the challenge of cancer, veteran GA musician Chip Andrus plays on by Eva Stimson ST. LOUIS – Those who arrive early for plenary sessions have the opportunity to listen and sing along with the Rev. Chip Andrus, a fixture on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly stage since 2001. This year, the bearded and bandana-clad Andrus has caught the attention of Young Adult Advisory Delegates, who have been overheard clamoring for “Willie Nelson’s autograph.” What some may not know is that Andrus comes to this Assembly facing the daunting challenge of advanced-stage cancer. After eight years in remission,

The Rev. Liz Theoharis. (Michael Whitman)

formerly served as moderator for Mission, Justice and Outreach and on the Racism Task Force of the Presbytery of Charlotte. • the Rev. Karen HernandezGranzen, who has served as the pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Trenton, New Jersey since 1995. She is a member of the Trenton Latino Advisory Council,

the Princeton Civil Rights Commission and previously served on the board of the Presbyterian Intercultural Network. • the Rev. Liz Theoharis is the co-director of the Kairos Center and the co-chair of the Poor Peoples’ Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Theoharis is the author See Women of Faith p. 6

New co-moderators want to celebrate diversity and think outside the box

Cintrón-Olivieri/Kohlmann plan to do things differently by Rick Jones

Chip Andrus, pastor of South Salem Presbyterian Church in New York and GA music leader since 2001 (Gregg Brekke)

See Music Man p. 2

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Way Forward Commissior All Agency Review 2020 Vision Team

ST. LOUIS --Humbled and overjoyed is how the new co-moderators of the 223rd General Assembly said they felt after Saturday night’s close election. Appearing at their first news conference, Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri and the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann said the last few months have been “an incredible journey” and they are ready to move forward. “We will be surprising and do things in ways the church hasn’t necessarily experienced before,” said Kohlmann. “Some of that will be around the ex-

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Meet me in Saint Louis

pectations of who should do what. Who should preach? Who should show up at clergy or ruling elder conferences? We want to do things that we feel called to, not necessarily what traditional expectations might want to dictate.” The pair were among three teams of candidates seeking to succeed Co-Moderators Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston of the 222nd General Assembly. “We thought all of the candidates could do this job,” Cintrón-Olivieri joked. “I appreciated the collegiality, See Celebrate Diversity p.5

Page 7

Mid Councils

Page 8

Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations

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Monday June 18, 2018

Music Man p. 1

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A place for all people to experience God Chip Andrus, on the platform at GA 223 (Danny Bolin)

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Some Assembly Required

At the 1994 GA in Wichita, an “out of order” sign on a mens room urinal was modified by an anonymous Presbyterian who added the words “decently and” THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY NEWS Published daily, June 16-23, by Office of General Assembly Communications in cooperation with Presbyterian Mission Agency Communications Managing Editor/Publisher: Jerry Van Marter

Associate Editor: Gregg Brekke Designer: Mark Thomson

Reporters: Pat Cole, Erin Cox-Holmes, Eleanor Ferguson, Mike Ferguson, Theo Gill, Rick Jones, Chris Keating, Emily Enders Odom, Eva Stimson, Gail Strange, Duane Sweep, Fred Tangeman, Shane Whisler. Copy Editors: John Filiatreau, Jennifer Cash Proofreaders: Dawn Biggs, Andy Kendall

he was diagnosed last November with metastatic melanoma. Since the first of the year, he has undergone a battery of treatments, with mixed results. But Andrus was determined to come to St. Louis. And with the help of friends in the Office of the General Assembly and a supportive team of musicians, he is here singing and playing his guitar, despite numbness in his right hand caused by more than 20 tumors in his brain. “I had to learn how to play the guitar with the numbness, how to strum without dropping it,” he says. Asked what brings him back Assembly after Assembly, Andrus says, “I just love being here, being with the family. I love (Stated Clerk) J. Herbert Nelson’s idea of the ‘kindom.’ This is where the real family gets together – the ones you like and don’t like – and hash things out.” After stops in Louisville and Harrison, Ark., Andrus is currently pastor of South Salem Presbyterian Church, in a small hamlet north of New York City. He leads session meetings at the Horse and Hound, a tavern across the street from the church, where he and a couple of musician friends also have regular musical gigs. While working in the PC(USA)’s Office of Theology and Worship in Louisville, Ky., in the early 2000s, he

performed with a group of other theologian/musicians under the moniker Soul Highway. At General Assemblies, Andrus plays with a core group of about five people, pulling in commissioners and others with musical skills “to accentuate the diversity of the church.” He finds music to be a powerful tool for bringing people together. “Music evokes so much in everybody – joy, sadness, healing, laughter,” he says. “At the Assembly, we play music so all voices can be together. It’s not just individual voices, it’s family singing together.” When Andrus first received his cancer diagnosis, he and his wife, Linda, who is manager of an animal hospital in South Salem and Danbury, N.Y., did not tell very many people. “When I finally told the church and the wider community, it was amazing to experience the outpouring of support,” he says. “People have rallied around. And God is powerfully present in that. The love of God is manifest through human beings. That’s the story of the Bible.” Making it to St. Louis has strengthened Andrus’s conviction that he’ll sing and play on stage again at future church gatherings – including the 224th General Assembly (2020) in Baltimore. As he puts it, “I’ve got cancer. Cancer doesn’t have me.”

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Kindom building for the 21st Century. 3

223 General Assembly

A foretaste of fractious fighting Reports propose new ways of being the church by Mike Ferguson ST. LOUIS – Commissioners to the 223rd General Assembly learned Sunday just how difficult their task will be later this week when they will vote on two significant proposals for changing the way the denomination is governed. The Way Forward Commission, the All-Agency Review Committee and the less controversial 2020 Vision Team – all created by the 222nd General Assembly (2016) presented highlights of their proposals during a plenary session Sunday afternoon in which the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, II, stated clerk of the General Assembly, said the status quo is no longer viable. “I want to contend today that we cannot serve God by building up until we tear down the bridling paradigm of the current state of our faith,” Nelson told commissioners. “The world has changed around us and we have been slow, and in some instances, reluctant to adjust, transition and engage in transformative change.” Presenting together, the Way Forward and All Agency Review groups laid out their tasks in stark terms: “What does it mean to say yes to some opportunities and no to others?” asked the Rev. Debra Avery of the All Agency group. “What do we need to celebrate and release, and celebrate and support?” The Way Forward Commission developed four top-level goals, said the Rev. Mark Hostetter, the group’s moderator. He introduced other members of the commission, who spoke to those goals: • Strengthen congregations and mid councils to do the work they’ve been called to do, making the national church more nimble and responsive. “Remember the reason we are all here,” said the commission’s Matthew Eardley. “It’s congregations and grassroots ministry.” • Affirm greater denominational equity and inclusion, living into

YAAD Journal

Claire Wineman, Presbytery of Denver

The Rev. Deborah Block, moderator of the All Agency Review Committee and the Rev. Mark Hostetter, monerator of The Way Forward Commission, speak to commissioners Sunday. (Danny Bolin)

the diversity that “is at the core of who we are and what we believe.” The commission calls for formation of a “diverse voices table” said commission member Julie Cox, designed to “ensure a united effort that permeates agencies and the whole church. It’s a first step to creating trust and practicing collegiality.” • “Long-desired and desperately-needed changes” that will allow the “critical ministries of our agencies the freedom to dream and grow.” Samuel Bonner said it’s “not an extensive reorganization effort. We propose a more modest, streamlined approach. It’s good stewardship that will reduce our reliance on per capita.” • Nurture “collaborative, cooperative interagency work,” while be-

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ing grounded “in our Presbyterian identity, so we can demonstrate that we are indeed the body of Christ.” The Rev. Eliana Maxim, co-vice moderator of the commission, suggested two initiatives: Taking a “deep dive into our financial stability” and “amplifying to make clear our voice.” The Rev. Deborah Block, the All Agency moderator, said the two groups “early on formed joint working groups to address areas of common concerns. We issued separate reports with some distinct recommendations and some unanimous joint recommendations … We did our work with deep commitment to the future of the PC(USA) and an acute awareness of present realities.” “We were interested in the Great Ends of the Church,” she said with a smile, “because, hey – they’re great.”

After the election of our new co-moderators during Saturday evening’s plenary, the YAADs gathered together in our small Home Groups to debrief our feelings about the day. While most of us expressed the joy we’ve experienced getting to know new people and feeling called by God, we also addressed our dismay at our diminished role in the democratic process of GA – specifically, the devastation of having “voice, but not vote” on the plenary floor during moderator elections. We’ve spent the few days leading up to the first plenary sessions being told, over and over, that the YAAD perspective matters deeply, only to come out of the elections feeling like our voices hadn’t been given time or attention at all. Our new co-moderators will do a fine job for the PC(USA), but the process of their election seems flawed in the fact that space isn’t allowed for many of the perspectives and ideas that the church claims to so value. Though I do not know what will happen next, I am inspired and honored to be a YAAD in a time when real change may finally be imminent, alongside my peers who feel just as strongly as I do about our church, and who are willing to start the conversations necessary to bring the PC(USA) to action in the present instead of simply making empty promises about what will happen in the future.


n i e m t ee M Saint Louis Kindom building for the 21st Century.

Monday June 18, 2018

COLA hosts opening reception for assembly goers

Cader Howard, Ruling Elder Commissioner, New Hope Presbytery: “I want to be thrilled by worship services. I want to feel closer to God when I leave St. Louis than when I came here. I’m excited about meeting Presbyterians from all over the country.”

Susan Andrews, former General Assembly moderator: “I marched with Fossil Free PCUSA folks. All of them have blisters. All of them were sunburned. But they just kept going.”

Diane Ford, a pastor in Lincroft, New Jersey: “I was an alternate, I wasn’t gonna come, but somebody pulled out so I got to be here! One of my friends said, ‘when you get home, you’re gonna be so Presbyterian!” Jeanne Choy Tate, co-moderator of Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns: “I’m hoping this is the year people start taking women’s concerns seriously. If not, I hope they’ll take a tiny step forward.”

Kindom building for the 21st Century. 5

223 General Assembly Celebrate Diversity from p.1

Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri [center-left] and Cindy Kohlmann [center-right] enter the plenary hall after their election as co-moderators. Photo by Danny Bolin

love and hope that was shared across the teams. It was a good journey and we appreciated the opportunity to stand with them. I thought it was a fair process and spirit led. If it took four ballots, that’s what the spirit wanted.” Cintrón-Olivieri, who grew up in Puerto Rico, is an ESL teacher and ruling elder at First Spanish Presbyterian Church in Miami. Kohlmann currently serves as Resource Presbyter for the presbyteries of Boston and Northern New England. Introduced by a mutual friend, the newly-elected pair believe their different backgrounds will serve them well as they look to address diversity in a changing church. “Music is one of the places where we can be diverse and united,” Kohlmann said. “We have immigrant communities in the greater Boston area. When I worship with them, it doesn’t matter that I don’t understand a single word

we sing together,” she added. “Part of celebrating diversity is helping people experience it in a way that is joyful and life giving.” “There is a way to do worship that might be simpler than we think,” said Cintrón-Olivieri. “Perhaps an interpretation system or presenting music and preaching in a different language. We just need to find the people to do that.” Both believe placing more emphasis on people and less on buildings will make a difference. “If the church building wasn’t there, there would not be a place for community to be together,” said Kohlmann. “It’s not about leaving the building behind. It’s about not making the building the first thing we talk about in annual reports. It’s what we use to do the mission of Christ.” Cintrón-Olivieri says churches are using their facilities in new ways to connect with communities. “We need to think outside of the box

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and look for ways to make the building the center of community,” she said. “We need to determine how it can be a safe space where people gather for worship on Sundays and for other purposes

during the week.” Both have embraced what the church is doing to welcome immigrants to the United States and believe it is a “rich blessing” for the PC(USA).





In 1887, the Southern and Northern streams of the Presbyterian Church (PCUS and PCUSA) planned a joint centennial celebration in Philadelphia for the following year. Both denominations wanted to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the organization of the first General Assembly in the United States. The PCUS GA, meeting in 1887 in St. Louis, graciously declined an invitation by the PCUSA’s Presbytery of Philadelphia to meet in Philadelphia the following year. Instead, the PCUS decided to assemble in Baltimore, a short train ride from the celebration. The event planning was easy compared to a four-day discussion of overtures related to “organic union” with the PCUSA. After one majority committee report and two minority reports that were substituted four times during plenary, the PCUS assembly appointed a committee to meet with the PCUSA to inquire into its stands on the spirituality of the Church, black congrega-

tions, and ecclesiastical boards. PCUS commissioners joined their fellow Presbyterians for the centennial celebration in Philadelphia a year later, but the PCUS committee appointed in 1887 reported back that obstacles to organic union had not been “substantially removed.” Reunion would have to wait nearly a century more, until the Atlanta GA of 1983. —Nancy J. Taylor, Director of Programs and Services

Kindom building for the 21st Century.

6 Women of Faith from p. 1

[left to right] Amantha Barbee, Liz Theoharis, Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries Director Rhashell Hunter and Karen Hernandez-Granzen. (Photo by Michael Whitman)

of Always with Us?: What Jesus Really Said about the Poor (Eerdmans, 2017). Barbee stood between protestors and policemen along with other ecumenical colleagues all wearing clergy collars, the night Keith Scott, a 43-year-old African American man, was killed by police in Charlotte. The shooting prompted both peaceful protests and violent riots in Charlotte over two nights. Barbee acknowledges she does not stand by herself, but with others in the fight for justice. “As a child I was called a bully, as an adult I’ve been called a bully, and I will admit, I am a

bully for Christ.” Barbee said we must all participate in the fight for justice and equality. “We cannot and must not sit in silence, that would be unjust,” she said. “I will stop when I die!” In an inspiring Father’s Day tribute, Hernandez-Granzen said, “I am a woman of faith and a Presbyterian because of my father.” Her father, a Pentecostal pastor in Brooklyn, N.Y. in the 1950s and 60’s, was a pioneer in wholistic ministry. “It is because of my father’s work with the poor and oppressed and his legacy that I became an ordained minister,” she said. Hernandez-Granzen closed her remarks with a familiar Latino rally call: “La vida es la lucha” (“The work continues!”) Theoharis has spent the last two decades with grassroots, community-led anti-poverty organizations working to put an end to poverty in this country. She is co-founder, with the Rev. William Barber, of The New Poor People’s Campaign. “This Presbyterian Church has been my home my whole life,” said Theoharis. Reading Isaiah 58 from The Message version of the Bible, she said, “We are called to repair those breeches and repair the street and to make God’s community livable for all.” “This scripture is often used in the work for justice,” she said. “We know that we are called to do this work and God wants justice for all and that so comforting to know that in our struggle God is with us.”

Monday June 18, 2018

DISCOVER SCOTLAND Church Groups Choir Tours Presbyterian Heritage Visit with us in the Exhibit Hall or email for details Rev. Jim Wallace, Director office@scotustours.com



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223 General Assembly

Kindom building for the 21st Century. 7

GA223 backgrounder: Mid Councils

Synod, presbytery relations to be considered by Assembly Committee 5 by Duane Sweep LOUISVILLE – A request to establish an administrative commission “to address disorder in the Synod of the Covenant” is one of the items that will be on the agenda of Assembly Committee 5 when the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) meets June 16–23 in St. Louis. That request, from the Presbytery of Cincinnati, has been met with a response from the Synod of the Covenant (item 05-06) that calls on the General Assembly to reject the Cincinnati overture “because the synod can demonstrate that it asserts false claims and misleading conclusions based on misinformation”. The presbytery’s overture (05-03) alleges the following synod failures: to “determine a satisfactory method to fulfill the principles of participation and representation … in proposed amendments to the bylaws of the synod”; to “adequately support the ministry and mission of its presbyteries”; to “adequately facilitate communication with and among its presbyteries”; and to “adequately exercise pastoral care among its presbyteries.” The presbytery goes on to allege a “loss of trust and mutuality between the synod and its constituent presbyteries”, between the “synod executive and multiple presbyteries of the synod,” and between the synod executive and leadership in “multiple presbyteries of the synod.” The overture also alleges “conflict between the synod executive and the racial ethnic caucuses of the synod.” Two comments have been issued on the Cincinnati overture, one from the Advocacy Committee for Racial

Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) and the other from the Office of the General Assembly (OGA). The ACREC comment says the presbytery’s overture should be ruled out of order and adds, “Furthermore, it is troubling to see personnel matters brought out publicly without giving the individuals concerned due process to defend themselves.” The OGA response concludes, “While it is not appropriate for personnel matters to be decided by the General Assembly, it is appropriate for the General Assembly, if it discerns the need, to establish an administrative commission to inquire into and settle such issues”. Apart from the Cincinnati overture and the response from the Synod of the Covenant, the Mid Councils Committee will address requests to change the border between the Synod of the Northeast and the Synod of the Trinity and to change the boundaries of two adjacent presbyteries in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. The committee will hear two overtures requesting name changes. One seeks to change the official name of Eastern Korean Presbytery to Eastern Korean American Presbytery. The other, from the Synod of Lincoln Trails, requests changing the official name of Midwest Hanmi Presbytery to Midwest Korean American Presbytery. Committee 5 will also receive a review of synod minutes and will accept synod reports in response to a 2016 General Assembly action that urged synods to “undertake an intentional system of review and self-study and to report to General Assembly on a biannual basis.”

PITTSBURGH THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY LUNCHEON Wednesday, June 20 11:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m. America’s Center Ticket Required, $26 (purchase by June 18) Hunter Farrell, World Mission Initiative director, presents “Theology in Context: Putting Theory into Practice with Urban and Global Partners”

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Today at GA • Bible study with Deborah Krause, 8:30 a.m. • Assembly committee meetings, 9:30 a.m. • Exhibit Hall open, 9:00 a.m. • Covenant Network of Presbyterians 20th anniversary celebration (ticketed event) • Other ticketed events, lunch and dinner time

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presbyga and #GA223 GA223 Website: ga-pcusa.org spiritofga

Kindom building for the 21st Century.


GA223 backgrounder: Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations

Presbyterian relationships with other churches and world religions to be reviewed by Assembly Committee 7 by Theodore Gill LOUISVILLE – Ongoing national dialogues with ecumenical partners, the role of local churches and presbyteries in fostering relations and just action with neighbors of all faiths, and deliberations over Presbyterian involvement in interchurch and interreligious councils and agencies will be on the docket of Committee 7 of the 223rd General

Assembly when it meets in Saint Louis June 16–23. Committee 7 will review the work of the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations (GACEIR). It also will consider a prospectus for the third round of dialogue between the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Episcopal Church in

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America and another prospectus for the ninth round of dialogue between U.S. Reformed churches and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. GACEIR has met three times since the 222nd General Assembly in 2016. A significant sector of its role is to “plan and coordinate, in consultation with the agencies and governing bodies of the church, the involvement of the PC(USA) in ecumenical and interreligious relations and work; connect the ecumenical and interreligious efforts of all governing body levels of the church; provide a common point for all ecumenical and interreligious efforts connecting us with those outside our church ... and promote the unity of the church as an exhibition of the kingdom to the world.” Committee 7 will have an opportunity to examine the ways in which the PC(USA) is fulfilling these mandates and to respond to commissioners’ resolutions in its sphere. Members will also meet with ecumenical and interfaith representatives from across the United States and around the world who are attending GA223. Topics of conversation will include first-hand accounts of prospects for peace on the Korean Peninsula and reports on Pope Francis’ June 20 visit to the World Council of Churches. An overture from the Presbytery of Carlisle (7-01), “On America’s Interfaith Context and the Church’s Chal-

Monday June 18, 2018 lenge,” brings a sharp focus to interreligious relations. Overture 7-01 asks the General Assembly to: 1. Affirm and embrace the religious diversity of the U.S. and to love all our neighbors – including those of other faiths – as we love ourselves. 2. Condemn all religiously inspired and motivated violence, prejudice, discrimination and hate speech, and in particular anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim behaviors and language. 3. Reaffirm General Assembly positions on interreligious relations as stated in four documents from 1987 to 2014. 4.  Call upon all Presbyterians to seek reconciliation with all religious groups who have been hurt by unjust actions and words of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 5. Encourage presbyteries to create interfaith relations committees or task forces to promote interreligious relations, dialogue and understanding. 6. Encourage congregations to engage in local interfaith conversations and partnerships. 7.  Direct the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly to encourage congregations to use the resources of the Office of Interfaith Relations to promote education about other religions and interfaith dialogue.

Join in the celebration of Gradye Parsons’ new book by getting your copy signed! Stop by the Board of Pensions booth at General Assembly Monday, June 18, 12:30 –2 p.m.

2000 Market Street • Philadelphia, PA 19103-3298 • © 2018 The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

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General Assembly News - Day 3 - June 18, 2018  

General Assembly News - Day 3 - June 18, 2018  

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