OF FAA INSPECTIONS, WALL-TO-WALL MEETINGS AND EXTRAORDINARY WORSHIP EXPERIENCES
Whew! The past couple of days have been something of a whirlwind, and I have just pulled up to the banks of rivers to review tomorrow’s business and get a bit of rest. To the extent that my writing is ever coherent, this may not be the best example. More likely, this will seem more like a journal.
Friday, July 2nd. My wonderful husband took me to the airport for my flight to Minneapolis. After negotiating the borderline humiliating security lines, I walked to the gate to wait. And with numerous others who were either reaching their destinations in Minneapolis, or merely using it as a connection point, wait we did. The plane arrived at the gate, its passengers started to disembark and I noticed that outside, there was a man with a green shirt and khaki pants standing in front of one of the engines talking with some of the ground crew. I wondered what that was all about, and whether it was a matter of concern. As baggage was being loaded (or offloaded, in some cases) I assumed the cabin was being cleaned, too. Sure enough, they began boarding what used to be called “First Class Passengers”. And then something odd happened: one of the flight crew led the people who had just boarded back up the jetway, said something to the gate agent, turned on his heels and disappeared from whence he came. We were told first that some maintenance issues needed to be addressed, and it would be just a few minutes. Then we were told that the flight had been selected for a random FAA inspection, that it would only be about ten minutes. After about a half hour or so from that announcement, with the gold van still behind the aircraft, we were allowed to board. We finally pushed back from the gate house a full hour and a half late. Those who were using Minneapolis as a transfer point were disappointed, angry, and otherwise emotional. My row-mate, a young woman going to see her mother for the first time in 2 years, was in tears. I learned that her mother had made the trip from Japan, and was meeting her daughter in Boise, where she was staying with other relatives. Due to work, this young lady only had the weekend and Monday to spend with her and the FAA Inspector had ensured she would not get to have as much time; it was not likely that she would make her connecting flight. I said a quick prayer for her as she headed for the jetway. It was all good news for me, though; I encountered the first bit of hospitality put on by the Committee on Local Arrangements when I entered the baggage claim areas and met the welcome committee with the smocks decorated with the Presbyterian Seal. Everything was smooth from that point and I got to bed about 12:30 am Eastern time. It was comforting to know, through this “ordeal” that planes are routinely and randomly inspected, and that when caught early, little mechanical difficulties are readily repaired.
Saturday, July 3rd. Following a seven hour nap, I awoke on Saturday, showered and dressed and headed over to the Minneapolis Convention Center. Aside from an over supply of Coca Cola products, the MCC is beautiful and perfectly set up for a meeting of this kind. The Riverside conversations started at 8:30 am, and I selected first to listen to the presentation of the task force on Civil Unions and Christian Marriage and then to the excellent presentation of the Form of Government task force. A quick tour of the Exhibit Hall followed and on to the first plenary meeting.
I have to do a flashback at this point, so allow your eyes to go out of focus for a second and then refocus a few weeks ago. When my materials arrived to begin my preparations for being a commissioner, one of the instructions was to bring a small amount of water from a local river to the assembly. I was able to prevail on a couple of my colleagues at work who were going on a canoe float to collect a small amount from the confluence of the Rapidan, Robinson and Rappahannock Rivers. OK, back to the present, this water was combined with other samples from other rivers and some was poured in a bowl as the opening prayer of the first plenary session was delivered and the opening passage of Scripture - - John 7:38-44 was being read. “Out of the hearts of believers shall come rivers of living water…”
We heard reports and accepted certain consent agenda items then broke for dinner. It was at this point that I located a Pepsi machine! It was all o.k. again! The MCC is now a perfect place for such a convention!!
When we returned at 7 pm, we listened to the candidates’ for moderator: six individuals, any one of whom would have been good, but one whom I am happy to report is someone with whom I have been acquainted through hearing various presentations from the FOG Task Force. Cynthia “Cindy” Bolbach, from National Capital Presbytery, was elected after numerous ballots and then test votes with our cool little voting machines (we had some issues with them!). Once the Cindy’s election was secured and our evening prayers concluded, we were in recess. Once again, it was after midnight before I got to bed…
Sunday, July 4th. Independence Day arrived with my awakening, startled, that I had overslept. The plan was to meet my brother and his wife for worship. A quick call to his cell secured my saved place, and I nearly sprinted one of the more glorious worship experiences of my life ensued. The rivers were again in use as, for the first time at General Assembly, a baby was baptized. I had wanted to describe this experience, but I do not have the words. I commend to you my brother's blog: paulkhooker.blogspot.com.
Lunch followed worship, and immediately after that, our committee meetings began. As you may know, I am assigned to the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations committee. We began with some fun team building exercises and heard a couple of presentations from General Assembly staff.
I could have participated in a picnic and fireworks display at Nicolet Island, but I felt too tired for a picnic and I’ve never enjoyed fireworks. Following a quick nap, I am now writing to you and reviewing committee business for tomorrow morning. As I write, I hear the popping of fireworks…
So. Here we are. Cindy Bolbach is moderator, God is in His Heaven and we Presbyterians are in Minneapolis, prayerfully requesting the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we seek to do the business of the PCUSA and further the glorification of Jesus Christ our LORD. Please keep us in your prayers! To God be all the glory, honor and praise!