We had 5 of our Children and Youth attend Camp Gilmont Summer Camps in Gilmer this past week.
1 Youth attended Adventure Camp, which involves sleeping in treehouses every night and cooking most meals for themselves. Another youth attended Explorer Camp which is for ages 11 - 14, and three attended Discovery Camp for ages 7-10.
This year's theme was Fearless Faith:
The Courage to Show Up
The Courage to Trust
The Courage to Forgive
The Courage to Change
The Courage to Connect
"We believe that camp is one of the foundational experiences for a healthy faith."
A great time was had by all! Not only did they have a chance to be outside in beautiful East Texas, but they were able to connect with other campers they had met in previous summer camps. They were able to learn more about God, hear important stories from the Bible, and sing great worship and camp songs!
We are grateful to the church for supporting our children and youth by paying their way to summer camp! We believe that camp is one of the foundational experiences for a healthy faith. They will report to the church during worship on Sun., July 10th!
The 222nd General Assembly adjourned just before noon on Saturday. I had a little bit more committee work to do as part of 02 Bills & Overtures. We looked at the Protests and Dissents that had been filed and made sure they were in order. The GA remains in effect until the next GA (223rd) convenes in St. Louis in June 2018.
Afterwards I went two stops down on the light rail and ate lunch at the Portland International Beer Festival. It was in a beautiful tree-lined park with music, food, games and of course beer from all over. People brought their dogs and I enjoyed so much just being outside in the wonderful weather.
On Sunday I went with a group on a "Mission Tour" to Mount St. Helens, which is just about 1.5 hour bus drive. We had an excellent tour guide who explained the history of the volcano and went into great detail about the events around the explosion in May 1980. We made several scenic stops along the way and ate box lunches at Coldwater Lake. Coldwater Lake is within the blast zone which killed everyone and everything, so everything around us was new growth within the last 36 years. In fact Coldwater Lake didn't exist before the blast, it was formed naturally as a result of it. Previously it was only Coldwater Creek.
It was a beautiful clear day. We were able to see a great distance, and I got a sunburn. We got within 6 miles of the mountain, on the north side, near Spirit Lake. It was an incredible experience. The bus was full of Presbyterians who were really enjoying the day of nature after a long week at the Oregon Convention Center.
Monday was travel day. I had a direct flight to DFW but made the mistake of asking the flight attendant on the way in how long the flight was: 3 hours 13 minutes, she said. Instead it turned out to be a 4 hour flight that landed in Lubbock. DFW was surrounded by intense storms around 6 or 7pm last night, so DFW rerouted all the traffic. We few around in circles and finally had to stop in Lubbock to refuel. They did let us de-plane, but the "food court" was only a Pizza Hut, Burger King, and a Bagel Sandwich shop. We got back on the plane and arrived at DFW around 10:30, 3 hours after schedule. I got home around midnight.
"I absolutely loved every bit of it. I loved being a part of the process and having a voice."
Some Reflections on General Assembly Experience:
General Assembly is an overwhelming experience. It is emotionally and mentally draining, but also incredibly inspiring. I absolutely loved every bit of it. I loved being a part of the process and having a voice.
This reaffirmed my love for my denomination. Though I didn't agree with every decision, I gained a new hope for the direction we are going.
I am proud of Grace Presbytery. Our 10 commissioners and YAAD represented us well, making prudent and helpful comments and motions. Grace proved again to be smart and thoughtful.
I was so glad to meet so many new people from all over our denomination. Most of the group dinners and table conversations forced us to eat next to people we didn't know, and I was thoroughly impressed with how we are represented (pastors, elders, etc.)
I was also so glad to catch up with some old friends that I had met at other Presbyterian events in the past. I saw three others who were in my CREDO experience last September, old colleagues from the Presbytery of East Iowa to which I used to belong, other interim pastors. It's nice to know others working across the country, even if we don't keep up with each other on a regular basis.
Five of our Children and Youth attended "Mission Camp" at First Presbyterian Church of Rockwall the week of June 20-24th.
The idea started when First Rockwall approached us about visiting and working in our Garden on the Tuesday of their mission camp. From there, the idea expanded when they invited our children to attend their mission camp for the rest of the week. So it went. Rick drove our kids to Rockwall on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and they came to our church on Tuesday.
On Tuesday they worked in our garden, weeding, harvesting and planting under the direction of Jennifer.
We are grateful to have partnerships with other churches like FPC Rockwall which help us pool our resources and build community!
The rest of the week, Rick drove them to Rockwall where they engaged in other mission activities and had a lesson and devotional time with Pastor Cheryl, who is a good friend of David's. This year's theme was "Feed My Sheep," based on Jesus' instructions to his disciples in John 21.
Mission Camp is a new variation on traditional Vacation Bible School. Rather than spending time inside, Mission Camp engages the children with service activities, followed by a time to reflect on what they did and why they did it.
Besides working in our garden on Tuesday, activities included stuffing pillows for the hospital, making dog biscuits for the animal shelter, and shopping for Helping Hands. Of course there was also time for fun such as swimming and bowling.
the compromise was orchestrated on the floor of the assembly by members of Grace Presbytery
Of special note, we did not vote for full divestment from fossil-free companies. This was a surprise, because the overture had a great deal of concurrences, and the advocacy group Fossil-Free PCUSA ran an excellent grass roots campaign. However, the assembly chose instead to follow the recommendations of the study compiled by the PC(USA)'s Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI). This is described as a middle way, and interestingly the compromise was orchestrated on the floor of the assembly by members of Grace Presbytery working in coordination with the commissioners from New Covenant (Houston area). The MRTI report suggests that we use a "focused engagement process" with oil, gas, and coal companies, working with them through our investments to reduce emissions and reliance upon fossil fuels.
In other business, on Friday morning I spoke on the floor against a recommendation that we change "teaching elder" to "minister of Word and Sacrament." The assembly voted for it anyway, so now it goes to the presbyteries for approval since it is a constitutional change.