The General Assembly of my denomination will be meeting in Detroit this Saturday for a week and the FOMO is setting in . . . which is a little strange.
On the one hand, I am allergic to the meetings, the politics, the procedures, the vying for attention, the cool kids’ tables, and the denominational narcissism. On the other hand, I have been known to watch the General Assembly life-streaming on vacation, coach candidates standing for Moderator, keep wall-sized photographs of Moderatorial candidates in my office, and try on the Moderatorial cross when no one was looking. I know the trivial catch phrases of Moderatorial elections since the 80s.
I’m not going to GA this year, which is just fine – although I will regret missing the reunions, the after-plenary meet-ups, the election of good friends (I hope), and the debate on issues that will change our world – at least a little bit. Instead I’ll be 1) holding down the fort at the office and 2) holding the rings of friends getting married.
We who love Church World forget that the very things we love about it (acronyms, Montreat, pithy speeches, inspiring worship, connections, politicking) make our World exclusive to others. Most of the world doesn’t care about Frank Harrington’s gaffe when he stood for Moderator in 1992 or Cindy Bolbach’s signature quote in 2010 or the voting totals on the definition of marriage issue in 2012. My heart is lifted when I read Gradye Parson’s welcome to the 221st General Assembly, but most of the world will not care. Most people in the world do not know any Presbyterian followers of Jesus. At least I think that’s probably true.
And yet we seek to be a church that transforms the world and models what it looks like to follow Jesus in every day situations and in global situations. Many will say that denominations are ridiculous and exclusive. But I continue to be grateful for my own, as I pray we fling open the doors to anyone who can connect to God through our corner of the Church.