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May 5, 2008: "Affirming Our Faith"

UPDATE: Item 16-01 has been fixed on PC-Biz.

I received in the mail a DVD and supporting materials from Sequoyah Hills Presbyterian Church regarding Item 16-01, an overture from East Tennessee Presbytery.

Interestingly, what Sequoyah Hills sent me differs from what is posted on the General Assembly site. The materials sent to me indicate that there are two affirmations requested:

1. We, the 218th General Assembly, affirm as sisters and brothers in Christ our common faith in, and allegiance to, Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; and,

2. We, the 218th General Assembly, request the Moderator to say before each vote, "As sisters and brothers in Christ, sharing our common faith in, and allegiance to, Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, let us proceed to vote on the question before us."

The PC-Biz version has only #2.

Why is this important? Standing alone, I am not sure I would vote for #2. I think it loses some of its punch if it is simply a sing-song statement the Moderator must say before hundreds of votes. However, it is clear from the DVD and the other material that the Sequoyah Hills session is asking something much more substantive. #2 is meaningful only if #1 is approved. Under the current look of the business, #1 is not even on the docket.

The DVD is very well done. For those of you who are not commissioners and did not receive one of these in the mail, it is a brief (just under 8 minutes) video of Pastor Bill Barron explaining what the overture requests, why the session of Sequoyah Hills sought to have East Tennessee Presbytery overture the 218th General Assembly, and addressing some concerns that might be raised.

For what it is worth, this is the kind of material that is extraordinarily helpful. It let me know what was the background and intention of the overture. It also let me see and hear the spirit intended; something often missed in the printed/viewed word. Additionally it expressed the desire of this pastor, this session, this presbytery to be encouraged by the General Assembly -- wouldn't that be nice! A re-affirmation is like hearing again the testimony of a good friend; it is a reminder of the shared joy of our salvation in Jesus Christ.

One of the expressed concerns is that a split vote might be perceived by the outside world as a vote against faith in Jesus. That is a reasonable fear. And, given the way that it is currently being presented on PC-Biz, it is a likelihood. This is probably worth a phone call to the Stated Clerk's office to see about straightening out.