Back in May, I was contacted by our Presbytery’s nominating committee asking if I would serve as the commissioner for the General Assembly (the elected commissioner was having surgery and could not attend). I hesitated at first. I knew this would take time and energy and I don’t have much of either to spare. However, I felt a nagging sense that I should say yes. I knew it would be a tough year, as every sort of large gathering right now is tough; but, since I don’t have little children, or covid risk factors, and I have a fairly decent tolerance level, I sensed I could serve God well in this capacity.
It was far more exhausting than I anticipated! I spent several days at the offices of the General Assembly in Louisville in a room with 40 other commissioners. We considered several overtures, engaged in debate, put forward new motions, amended motions, wrote and delivered presentations, voted, and worshiped together. (We did all of this while wearing KN95 masks.) Then I arrived home and spent five days on Zoom with 500 other people doing it all over again. It was exhausting!
For those of you who are wondering, here is a summary of some of the business of the assembly. I am happy to reflect on any of these with you in detail, but it is far too much to do it justice in a newsletter article.
One takeaway from the experience that I will share with you is that responsible shared leadership (i.e., democracy) takes sacrifice. It requires time, thought and tolerance. It means setting aside prejudice and really listening to each other. But the payoff is huge! As challenging as this experience was for me, I am smarter and more informed because of it. My thinking is more clear and my openness to new ideas has broadened. I am so grateful to be a part of a church whose rulership rests upon the discernment of elders gathered in councils. May the church preserve this tradition of governance for generations to come!