The plenary session begins today for the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
It has been quite an assembly so far. The commissioners as a whole will act on the recommendations of the committees and you can watch the action live (like C-Span) on the GA webpage.
It is actually rather addictive. What is especially fun is following Twitter (and adding your own tweets). You feel like you are a part of history. Use the hashtag #ga219.
Speaking of history, in terms of equality, this General Assembly has stepped up on behalf of equality for LGBT people.
The entire GA has to approve the committee's actions, and then, of course, a majority of the presbyteries will need to approve. First hurdles first.
Committee 12 approved resolutions changing the definition of marriage from a man and a woman to two people in all relevant documents and approved permission for clergy to conduct religious ceremonies for same-gender couples who can get a civil marriage license.
Committee 6 approved a rewrite of G-6.0106b removing the discriminatory language.
- approved Call to Restore Creation and Restoration of Wetlands.
- endorsed a Charter for Compassion.
- continued to state the PCUSA's opposition to the death penalty and calls for an immediate moratorium on all exectutions.
- approved statement opposing the war in Afghanistan.
- urge President Obama and Congress to seek permanent suspension of the U.S. military use of seven Colombian bases initiated in 2009.
- urge all congregations to make a commitment to peacemaking.
- urges the church to seek clarity regarding the call to nonviolence as a response to violence, terror, and war.
- "Renew the call of previous General Assemblies to all corporations doing business in the region to confine their business activity solely to peaceful pursuits, and refrain from allowing their products or services to support or facilitate violent acts by Israelis or Palestinians against innocent civilians, construction and maintenance of settlements or Israeli-only roads in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israeli military occupation of Palestinian territory, and construction of the Separation Barrier as it extends beyond the 1967 “Green Line” into Palestinian territories."
- Approved report from Middle East Study Committee, "Breaking Down the Walls" with amendments. John Harris reported on this committee and offered a hopeful statement: "When the committee acted unanimously I found myself thinking that if this committee, which seemed so divided and contentious Sunday and early Monday could reach a unanimous decision, perhaps there is hope the Israelis and Palestinians can someday do the same."
- Approved adding Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions. This is a confession of the church in South Africa as it resisted Apartheid.
- "Urge the Board of Pensions to adopt amendments to the Benefits Plan to extend eligibility for spousal and dependent benefits under the Plan to Benefits Plan members, their same-gender domestic partners, and the children of their same-gender domestic partners, on the same basis as, and equivalent to, benefits made available to Benefits Plan members, their spouses, and the children of their spouses."