Live Blog 188th General Assembly
Welcome, Friends, to the Live Blog for Cumberland Presbyterian General Assembly, 2018.
We will be adding images, audio, and reports throughout the week, and especially during the Official Business Sessions on Monday and Thursday. Check back regularly during the week for updates!
Find the Committee Reports in PDF form HERE.
Thursday, 21 June 2018
3:44 My sincerest apologies to everyone out there still following along with this. My ride has called and I must depart the 188th General Assembly. I have eight or so hours of driving to arrive back in Memphis before leaving for McKenzie tomorrow mid-day for CPYC. Blessings and I will complete this page with all the information of the business meeting sometime in July.
3:30 Recess till 3:45
3:28 Recommendations 2 and 3 of the committee are approved and the report is done.
3:27 Call for question. Passed.
3:22 Rev. Ryan Puckett speaks to Recommendation 3. Asks to amend the rec. to add in a committee of one person per synod to work with the Discipleship ministry team to conduct a census/survey. Amendment passes.
3:19 Recommendation #1 is denied.
3:19 Question is called. Time to vote.
3:16 Randy, Minister from Red River Pres. I had many mentors and the best lesson i learned is that the best mentors give you the right tools to minister to others. I was asked to do a wedding before I was ordained. I contacted a mentor or two and we arranged for me to do all the service except the last 5 or 6 words. Additionally I worked with a mentor to bless sacraments before I was ordained. We can do anything in ministry if we are surrounded by the right people.
3:13 Director of PAS Michael Qualls speaks to the PAS requirements for ordination and the process of deciding the PAS requirements for PAS graduation. On at least two occasions, a student with an MAR from MTS has come to PAS to finish their requirements for ordination.
3:11 Rev. Sandra Shepherd, Nashville Presbytery. Ordination is not a call. A presbytery still has authority over their ordained ministers.
3:08 Joanna Wilkinson has been given permission to speak on this issue as she has lived it. “I have a degree in youth ministry, I have worked hard to get it. I sit in presbytery meetings and I have not voice. I work with my youth and I have no authority. My call is real, I will not serve a congregation as a pastor because that is not my call. I worked very hard for my 48 hours at MTS. People like me want to be validated and we deserve to serve in word and sacrament to our congregations.
3:07 Question about what transfers of ordinations will do.
3:04 Victory Moore The Ministry Council is not changing ordination. We are asking presbyteries to be diligent in our ordinations and we need to give presbyteries more validation of what some are already doing and allow people who have worked very hard to seek ordination.
3:03 Rev. Jay Earheart-Brown speaks again that we have a PAS program that allows for ordinations around the world without the need for a MDiv.
3:00 Mike Creole When you are in school, you recognize the value of the education you are receiving. Presbyteries have the authority to decide what is appropriate for pastors within their bounds. The wording of Recommendation 1 is too open and may allow for things we haven’t considered.
2:57 Gloria Diaz speaks. The equivalent of a Masters in Colombia is roughly nine years of school. If we are ordaining to something other than word and sacrament, then we need to change the constitution.
2:56 Rev. Ryan Puckett speaks as a new member of the board at MTS speaks with concern of devaluing the MDiv.
2:52 Rev. Drew Gray from Cumberland Presbytery. God calls people to a number of different ministries, and while we recognize all those calls in the CP church, we only have one ordination.
2:51 Delegate from Colombia speaks in support of the Recommendation. In Colombia degrees are different.
2:50 Clarification, while the Confession doesn’t specify a MDiv, the digest does.
2:48 Rev. Milton Ortiz speaks to the need of recommendation 1 for churches outside the United States. A MDiv in the US is often not the same Masters degree in Colombia or in Brasil or elsewhere.
2:43 Victory Moore now speaks to the motion 1, voicing support for the recommendation. “Youth Ministers need to be empowered to be spiritual leaders of
2:41 Recommendation 1 first. Rev. Jay Earheart-Brown from Nashville Presbytery speaks against the Recommendation. Unintended consequences are likely to be brought by this.
2:39 Motion to divide the question pulling out recommendation 1 separate from 2 and 3. Motion passes.
2:37 Um… they left off my name. I appeared before the committee and they didn’t list my name. -insert crying emoji here-
2:35 On to page 10 and the report on the ministry council.
2:33 Report is adopted. (The Committee recommended in their report that both the resolutions be denied, and with this vote they are. However, a resolution they approved says that later this year the issue at hand will be discussed by the Permanent Judiciary Committee, the United Committee on Theology and Social Concerns, and the Ministry Council and they have been instructed to find a way forward for our CP family. Many prayers for those individuals as they do so.)
2: 32 debate is ended vote is coming.
2:31 Motion to ammend passes. Correction: the Ministry Council is added to, not in substitute of the Committees to review this issue.
2:30 Lynn Thomas clarifies that the ministry council meets twice a year rather than three times a year.
2:27 Micah from Robert Donnell Pres. motion to ammend recommendation 13 referring the issue to the ministry council rather than the unified committees.
2:25 Finally ballots are counted… 49 to 29, the motion to amend has failed.
2:18 Ballots are still being counted, excuses are being read to be approved by the body while we wait.
2:15 Ballots are being counted. Greetings are brought from the CPWM and their new president during the count. There were 35 first time attendees at the CPWM conference this year.
2:10 Ballots on the amendment to the committee’s report are being distributed. Reminder: the committee brought a report that denied a resolution on sexuality in leadership. This vote amends the report to approve that amendment rather than deny.
2:08 A member of the committee bringing the resolution speaks (the final speaker) and then reads the scripture of the speck and plank in the eye of a friend.
2:06 Rev. Andy McClung asks for closing debate and voting by secret ballot. Moderator recognizes one additional speaker, but then the vote is taken and approved for secret ballot.
2:03 Moderator requests for the YADs who asked to speak before the break have an opportunity to speak. YAD from Missouri, essentially calls for the question, but recognizes that he does not have the authorty and asks for someone who does have the authority to make a motion for someone to end debate.
2:00 Return to business and Rev. Jackson from Hong Kong presbytery will lead us in prayer. Sharing prayer concerns first.
1:51 Most have returned from lunch and have gathered together for business to resume. If you’re reading along with us today, thank you, and feel free to offer up suggestions below in the comments for next year. I (Steven Shelton) will be departing this afternoon, likely before the business session has concluded. My good friend Rev. Neal Wilkinson from White Oak Pond CP church in Missouri will be taking over the live-blog until he needs to depart. Hopefully between the two of us, we will cover the majority of the business this afternoon.
11:55 Moderator Jay Earheart-Brown has declared a recess for Lunch until 2:00pm Central Time. Join us back here in a few hours.
11:51 Elder Victory Moore from North Central Presbytery. “I’m just an elder, so I’ll probably speak less than some of the ministers.” This document has far reaching ramifications for us if we pass it. I’m separated from my husband, so do I have to step down now? According to this, I do now! If you pass this, you cut off the arms of pastors and churches to reach out and work with people who are already “living” in sin.
11:45 Robert Goodman from Covenant Presbytery speaks. I stand as someone who is a mutant, I have a gene missing from my body, but I still need a savior. If someone else can use a missing a gene as an excuse for behavior, then why can’t I? I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and I married a Cumberland Presbyterian and I chose a CP church because of what you stood for. We can accept people as they come to us, but we don’t have to accept their lifestyles.
11:38 Rev. Barry Boggs from Murfresboro presbytery speaks in favor of the resolution. Scripture from Timothy and Corinthians. The church cannot give culture the power to dictate what sin is and what lifestyles should be allowed.
This resolution does several things:
1. Improves terminology.
2. Improves the reasoning.
3. Makes it binding on presbyteries.
11:36 YAD Kailey from Nashville is speaking for some of the YADs. There are children whos lives are at stake here. We must please remember “whosoever will” and let the committee work out a sound solution to this debate.
11:33 Sandra Shepherd from Nashville Presbytery. The resolutions were not read, but I want to draw your attention to the phrase, “Or any other sex act outside from monogamous marriage.” This resolution is a BIG deal and that is why we are asking the permanent judiciary committee jointly with the Theology and Social Concerns committee to bring to us next year something that is carefully created.
11:28 Ben Brown, Elder Delegate from Red River Pres. I’m not a pastor and I haven’t studied as much as many have. I chose to become a lawyer instead of ministry and I bring my law background to this meeting.
Both of these resolutions are fraught with legal difficulties and I would recommend denying both of them. I do not look at the spiritual ramifications of these resolutions as much as I look at the legal ramifications of these resolutions and to pass them is to amend the constitution without going through the predefined process of amending the constitution.
The committee is right in denying both the resolutions and asking the Judiciary committee look at them and create something that is legally safe, slowly and thoroughly thought out, and decided based on thought and not the emotions of today.
11:24 Terry Sisco Red River Presbytery. I don’t like being called “mean spirited” because I signed this resolution presented to the GA. What it comes down to is whether or not any of us believe that homosexuality is a sin. In Hebrews we are asked to strip away everything that entangles us.
Being single is who I am and I am sexually pure. Biblically, homosexuality is a sin.
11:21 Dianne Phelps from Red River Presbytery. Jesus never spoke to homosexuality and there’s good reason. Homosexuality was not even recognized as an idea until the 1800’s. Part of ancient culture was a dominance. The Jewish people stood against Homosexuality and violators were stoned. There is no need for Jesus to speak to it, we know what he thought.
11:20 Moderator reminds us that we are debating the motion to amend.
11:20 Recess out.
11:05 Recess declared. Back in 15 minutes
10:59 Mike, a pastor commissioner from Missouri stands to speak. “If you stand and speak, you’re gonna get thrown into a camp on one side or another. First, we are Cumberland. We have never been at an extreme. Presbyteries were denied the ability to ordain who they wished a hundred years ago. As a presbytery used their authority and ordained a woman, look where that has brought us now.”
10:53 Rev. Ryan Puckett stands to speak from Ark. Pres.
“There has been a great deal of pain in handling these issues. The issue we’re dealing with is not whether or not God loves everyone.”
We all stand as sinners standing in need of forgiveness, we need to name our sin. We need to be able to name our sin, not pretend that we are sinless.
Rev. Puckett reads from the gospels as Jesus argues against divorce and that companionship is not a right.
10:52 Rev. Warren sits just short of his 10 minute limit.
10:48 Rev. Warren continues to speak, reading from the 1883 confession and scripture.
10:42 Rev. Chris Warren from Murfreesboro Pres. stands to speak.
Response to McMillan that the issue is not settled. “We are reformed and we are always reforming. In the early 1800s we dealt with racism, but we emerged no longer racist.”
“Personally, in my interpretation of scripture, I would not like to be characterized as “lukewarm”. I am very passionate about what I believe and the people I care for who struggle.”
10:41 A commissioner from Columbia Presbytery stands to speak against the motion to amend. “God makes us exactly as we are”
10:40 Rev. McMillan closes with a passage from Revelation: Do not be luke warm, you will be spit out of my mouth. “We need to be diligent in our pursuit of the word of God.”
10:37 Rev. McMillan reads from Joshua: “But for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
“In 1996, a strong statement was adopted, but at the last moment, a paragraph was added that removes it’s enforcement.”
Rev. McMillan shares of West Tennessee Presbytery and the struggles of enforcing the rule when churches and elders stand in opposition to it.
10:36 Rev. McMillan speaks first to the motion to amend. “it is the role of the assembly to create principles and the details are worked out over time.”
10:35 Moderator clarifies the process of amending reports. And the procedure.
10:34 The floor is open. Rev. Ron McMillan is first to speak. Asks to amend recommendation 11 to change “deny” to “adopt”.
10:31 The chair of the committee, Rev. Randall Mayfield speaks first to the reasoning of the recommendations of the committee. He has concerns that some of the reasoning of the resolution may bring up constitutional and legal issues. To implement all of these recommendations would be exceedingly difficult.
10:30 “All of us on this committee are nervous” And here comes the motion from the committee to concur in the report and adopt the recommendations.
10:29 Almost done…
10:25 Moderator gives permission to not read resolutions included in preliminary minutes. Thank you Jay!
10:14 Report is being read. It’s gonna take a while, so go get some coffee if you need some. Report is linked above if you want to read on your own.
10:13 And now the Theology and Social Concerns/Unification Task force Committee report.
10: 12: Voting has been completed and Ken Bean and Melinda Reams are elected to the Ministry Council.
10:10 After a few comments and suggestions, the report is concurred in and its recommendations adopted.
10:08 Browser Crashed! I’m back.
10:02 Report is being read by YADS Carly Bell, Kennedy Holloway, and Callie Swindle
10:01 Ballots are being counted. Meanwhile, first report! Chaplains/Historical Foundation.
10:00 ballot distribution and collection take a while….
9:58 Voting for Ministry Council: between Ken Bean, Rev. Ron McMillan, Melinda Reams. Two will be elected to the Ministry council
9:57 All other nominees elected by acclimation.
9:54 No other nominees for any other board or agency.
9:51 Drew Gray nominates Melinda Reams for inclusion on the ballot for Ministry Council.
9:49 Report of the nomination team.
9:42 Moderator shares of Commissioner William Alas who was unable to attend the assembly. The US government did not renew his work VISA and he is now subject to deportation.
Johan Daza, originaly from Colombia, offers a prayer for all immigrants who seek to come to the US for many different reasons.
9:38 Moderator recognizes the YADs and reminds them of their full ability to participate in the debate and discussion on the issues presented and that their input will be asked for before each vote.
Additionally, Moderator gives some general instructions and goes over some housekeeping issues before business begins.
9:35 Archivist Susan Gore is presented with the Native American Flute played during the Choctaw celebration on Monday. I’m a little jealous. I want a flute! (It was THIS Flute if you’re interested)
9:32 Rev. Leon Cole is welcomed to bring greetings from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America. After his greetings, he is welcomed by Moderator Earheart-Brown and is seated as an advisory member of the assembly.
9:31 Pamela Brown is welcomed to act as parliamentarian.
9:30 We are called to order by Moderator Jay Earheart-Brown. Vice Moderator Rev. Buddy Pope opens the meeting in prayer.
9:00 – Worship has concluded and the business session will begin in approximately 30 minutes. If you would like to follow along with the discussion as it happens, please review the committee reports on the General Assembly Website HERE.
Wednesday, 20 June 2018
Young Adult Worship
Thank you to the young adults from around the denomination who contributed to worship this evening through leading music, part of the liturgy, or taking part in the “Why I love being CP” video. (we’re working on getting a copy to link to here).
Nathan Wheeler (Coordinator for Youth and Young Adults for the Ministry Council) spoke a challenge to the General Assembly to seek ways to treat our younger Cumberland Presbyterians as family and not push them away.
Audio of some of the music is below and photos from the service are HERE.
CP Children’s Home Dinner
The Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home in Denton Texas was celebrated in their annual General Assembly Dinner. Memories were shared by many who lived there, visited there across the years, or who stayed for a mission trip during their youth. As the Children’s home continues to search for a new Director and CEO, their work and mission continue and children and families’ lives are changed through their work. A few photos of the dinner are HERE and the website of the CPCH is HERE if you would like to know more or donate to their mission and work.
Joint MTS and PAS luncheon
In the middle of the day on Wednesday, Memphis Theological Seminary and the Program of Alternate Studies both celebrated the life, ministry, and legacy of the Rev. Dale Gentry. Dale lived and worked throughout Arkansas during his 70ish years of active ministry and a great many who were mentored by him shared memories and his influence. It was happily announced that a scholarship in his memory is being established especially for PAS students feeling called to rural ministries such as he loved so much.
Additionally, at the end of the meal, outgoing MTS president Jay Earheart-Brown was celebrated for his work with the seminary.
To see more, visit the photo album HERE.
Meanwhile, in Haiti:
We celebrate the continued growth of our Cumberland Presbyterian Church! Even while meetings continue here at General Assembly, a gathering of the faithful in Haiti has proven fruitful. Six new Cumberland Presbyterian pastors were ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament as their training for ministry is now completed. Thank you to all those faithful teachers and professors who traveled to teach across the years to assure their progress and fulfillment of God’s calling.