Sunday, June 18, 2006
Last night after I left the committee meeting I stopped in the atrium to post to the blog and I ran into Rev. Russell Smith who I had meet earlier in the day because he had found this blog. I told him that I had been looking for a contemporary service to go to and he told me about a service that was being put on by PRMI (Presbyterian Reformed Ministries International). I later was able to find out when and where that service was.
We talked for about an hour during which time he told me about a 4 year old girl in his congregation whose name is Regan Harper. Regan has cancer. What is worse is that the doctors are baffled as to what to do with this cancer. It is unlike anything that they have dealt with. They have prayed and the Elders have anointed her with oil. I told him that I would pray for her and that I would let our prayer warriors know so they could pray for her too. We I got back to my room I turned on the TV and after a short time I was overwhelmed with the need to pray for Regan and as I began to pray I realized that I needed to look outside and up into the heavens. I had muted the TV but the light from it, my laptop, and the laps that were on in the room were causing a glare so I turned them all off except for the bathroom light so I would not trip around the room. I shut the bathroom door until it was open just enough to let out a little of the light. It was just enough. I went to the window and tried to open the shears but they were stuck in place. I continued my prayer for Regan, her family, her friends, and her church. As I prayed I sank to my knees grabbing the bar on the inside of the window and I looked out into the night sky. To the right of my and just up a little bit I saw it. The unlikely combination of the light that I had on and the shears had created it. I saw the cross. I began to think about when Jesus healed the boy in Matthew 17. It was not about Jesus forcing out the demon that drew me to that passage, it is what he told his followers in verse 20 when He said, “… I tell you the truth, if your faith is as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. All things will be possible for you.” I also thought about the when Jesus healed the soldier’s servant in Matthew 8:5-11, 13: When Jesus entered the city of Capernaum, an army officer came to him, begging for help. The officer said, “Lord, my servant is at home in bed. He can’t move his body and is in much pain.” Jesus said to the officer, “I will go and heal him.” The officer answered, “Lord, I am not worthy for you to come into my house. You only need to command it, and my servant will be healed. I, too, am a man under the authority of others, and I have soldiers under my command. I tell one soldier, ‘Go,’ and he goes. I tell another soldier, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and my servant does it. When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. He said to those who were following him, “I tell you the truth, this is the greatest faith I have found, even in Israel. …Then Jesus said to the officer, “Go home. Your servant will be healed just as you believed he would.” And his servant was healed that same hour. I am not sure that I have as much faith as the soldier, but I would like to think that I do. I do know that I have faith at least the size of a mustard seed and Jesus had told his followers that that would be large enough. I know that God is holding Regan in His arms and that He will heal her because Jesus has already told me that my faith is big enough. As I reflected on this time today I realized that it was not just a cross that I had seen. I also saw a white flowing robe and I believe that as I prayed last night that Jesus was giving me His undivided attention. Praise God. Thank you Jesus. Please say a prayer for Regan and her family, I know they would deeply appreciate it.
I had found in my GA information that the PRMI service began at 10 AM so I was able to sleep in a little bit today. I left early enough so I could find where it was as the service was in a part of the complex that I was not yet familiar with. I found my seat towards the front, I do not like when people sit in the back and leave the front empty. Fortunately that was not a problem. Neither was the fact that it was a two hour service. When it was over it felt like we had just begun. I really enjoyed the music, the fellowship, the expressions of faith, and the message. Thank you PRMI.
After the service I thought I would head to the committee room and get set up before getting some lunch. I found that our room had been booked for something else and we had move for the day to another room. It was just 2 floors up so it was not a big deal. We came back to committee at 1:30 PM. A motion was made and seconded to dispense of the remaining six overtures concerning Montreat with a single vote. The motion was passed 37-0-5. Les was down so we moved to item 03-B Minutes of the Presbyterian Historical Society. The commissioners that read over the minutes moved and seconded to accept the minutes with comment. The vote passed 44-0-1.
Paper copies of all of the items have been handed out for those who still cannot access Les.
It was requested that we allow open hearings for 03-23/03-24. This would have us adding 10 minutes to the 5 minutes that are already allowed for each of the writers of the commissioner resolution. A motion was made to not have open hearings; this would still allow the writers 5 minutes to speak. It passed 40-5-0.
Item 03-12 was next on the agenda. George Adams spoke to this item recommending that the committee approve this AI. A motion was made to recommend approval of this item and it was seconded. There was no debate and by a vote of 44-0-1.
Item 03-16 was the next item where there was already and amendment. I made what I thought would be a substitute amendment was out of order at the time of the motion.
The amended motion failed 2-42-1
I again made a motion for a substitute. It was seconded and is now under parliamentary review by the leadership team. After debate and clarification it was taken to a vote and defeated by a vote of due to a tie 20-20-5. We were then back to the main motion to approve 03-16 #1. The previous question was moved and seconded and approved. The main motion to recommend 03-16 #1 went to a vote and was defeated 2-43-2. A motion has been made and seconded to disprove 03-16 #1 to the GA. The motion passed 44-1-2.
A motion was made to disapprove item 03-16 #2 and it was seconded and debate was begun. The YADs and TSADs were also in agreement to disapprove. The question was called and seconded. The motion to end debate was carried. The committee voted overwhelmingly to disapprove item 03-16 #2 by a vote of 47-0-0.
The next item of business is item 03-A which essentially say that the GAPJC is the final authority and their decisions, cannot be called into question. It was moved and seconded with not debate to accept this item and passed by a vote of 44-0-1.
03-18 was the next item up for presentation by a member of COGA. This item deals with affinity (special interest) groups. A motion was made and seconded to approve 03-18. The motion passed 44-1-0. A motion was made and seconded to answer 03-06 with the approval of 03-18 and was opened up to debate. During this it was made clear that 03-06 would conflict with 03-18 and would also possibly infringe on the privacy of individual donors and that it is also illegal per the IRS. It was then voted on and passed by a vote of 41-2-3.
When then moved on to item 03-20. COGA made their presentation on this item and pointed out the minor amendments. These minor amendments were to clarify and edit what was done at the 216th GA (2004). It was moved and seconded to accept 03-20. We then moved to debate. The reason we would not have the same amount of information regarding the Vice Moderator should something happen to the Moderator is that the Vice Moderator is appointed by the Moderator and not elected by the GA. This item passed by a vote of 46-1-0.
Agenda item 03-21 was then explained by a representative of COGA. This item would allow three observers of other faiths or religious traditions to attend GA. The item was brought to a vote and passed 39-3-4.
We only had two items left at this point. Item 03-23 was the next item. Michael Carey and Chandler Willis wrote this commissioner resolution and Michael was given 5 minutes to speak as the resolution advocate. This resolution dealt with “Open Meeting Policy.” There was a lot of concern in regards to whether this additional information would cause trouble if someone were to have malicious intent. It was suggested by a corresponding member that we may want to have the GA create a task force to research this further. A member of ACSWP then spoke in opposition to this item with the following example:
Session meetings are open by their very nature. Should they be drafting a letter on a sensitive subject and had a member of the congregation that wanted a copy it could cause a deep split within the local church. There does need to be some sort of temporary boundaries to prevent problems that the final drafts would not have. (I wonder if my congregation knows they can come to session meetings to observe.)
George Adams then spoke regarding this item. He had written a draft that was changed by the committee that he was working on. That draft in its final form, while still in the spirit of the original, only contained one word that was on the draft. There have been some good examples why 03-23 should be disapproved. Steve Grace from COGA was the final resource for this item and spoke to the 3 comments that COGA made in regards to this item. There were no general questions. A motion was made to approve 03-23 with the relevant text from the ACSWP advice and counsel on item 03-23. This motion was seconded. There was some debate on this item. There is still a fear of maliciousness. There was a motion then made to amend the motion that was on the floor. The amended motion was then voted on and was defeated 9-32-3. We went back to the main motion and debate on it. The motion was then voted on and defeated 10-34-0. A motion was made to refer 03-23 to COGA and to report back to the 218th GA (2008). It then went to debate. There was worry that delaying this further by referring this to COGA would cause further issues as well as those who felt that it would be looked upon favorably. The comments from COGA were not based on any study but were the response of a few members of COGA. We were reminded that it was suggested by a corresponding member who is also a member of COGA that this be referred to COGA. The referral passed 39-4-2.
The last item! Item 03-24 was brought to us. It simply is adding a line that would have an estimate and final cost of special committees or studies. After the commissioner resolution advocate spoke to this resolution question and answer time was begun. The COGA resource person then came up to speak in regards to this issue. The cost of these committee or studies is paid by the OGA. These committees and studies are given a budget when created and then OGA monitors these budgets and if an extension is required then it must be approved by GA. A motion was made and seconded to disapprove this item to the GA. It was confirmed that there are checks and balances regarding the budgets in question. The motion passed 28-14-4. With that committee work on this agenda was completed. It was suggested by the moderator that if the GA votes in favor of 03-17 that the Moderator and Stated Clerk reach out pastoral to those who would be pained by that action. A committee member made the motion and it was seconded and immediately voted on. The item passed unanimously 45-0-0.
Our leadership then gave us a round of applause to which we gave our leadership team a standing ovation. We then closed with worship.
I had just enough time to get back to the room and head to worship. I was really looking forward to this service as it was a joint service between the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The service was mostly traditional, which while not what I prefer was incredible. The service began with selections sung by Chorale Presbyterienne du Congo. They were great. During several of the hymns the “On Angels’ Wings” liturgical dance team from Covenant Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa performed. As I watched them my eyes filled and I found myself praying that Regan would someday be able to dance like that. Those young people did a fantastic job. I thank God that I was able to finish my day with this service.
Tomorrow is an early day as I am going to the PFR breakfast at 7 AM so I will close for now.
Because of Him,