A MESSAGE FROM ELDER PHYLLIS WALKER: 224th PCUSA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Phyllis represented our congregation at the most recent gathering, and shares this report. If you would like to read more about their work, visit this page for a number of interesting articles.
The 224th PCUSA General Assembly was to have convened in Baltimore, MD on June 19 with opening ceremonies, but due to the Coronavirus we went zooming and live streaming.
Over 400 Commissioners and 200 Advisory Delegates joined together with virtual technology. So instead of the representatives from the Lehigh Presbytery being in Baltimore we were in the conference room at the Presbytery Office, socially distancing and wearing masks when appropriate. Instead of a dinner cruise we dined on Panera.
What was to be the work of the evening of approving a shortened agenda and the election of the Moderators turned into an evening of active debate of the agenda, pushing the session well past the allotted time. As a result, there was a special session scheduled for Saturday evening, June 20, to hold the election – which turned out to be a very special and emotional evening. We elected Elona Street-Stewart, a Native American Ruling Elder, and Gregory Bentley, an African American Teaching Elder to lead us for the next two years (pictured, right). J. Herbert Nelson was also re-elected as the Stated Clerk.
Our sessions were shortened from a week to two full days due to having to conduct business via the internet and dealing with the different time zones. What was midmorning for the east coast was early morning for the west, and vice versa for the evening sessions. We were to primarily address the financial business of the denomination, but we also included approving statements involving Black Lives Matter and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In case you were wondering how we conducted our business, the genius of very talented people set up not only the Zoom to accommodate over 700 people, but a voting method via a site called PC Biz where we were to register so we could electronically vote. Prior to all this happening, there were mandatory training sessions so that everyone would know how to participate in the sessions. I was very impressed by those who organized this in such a short time.
This GA will go down in history as a one of a kind, just as we have been able to administer to our congregations through the ever-changing technology.