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June 25, 2008: Evening, Wednesday

Plenary began this afternoon. And it moved fast. We completed all the business from committees 7, 12, 15, and 17.

First impressions:

Bruce Reyes-Chow may be the best fresh-out-of-the-box brand new moderator I have seen. He had a sense of the floor, he engaged with people well, and he kept control. It was not perfect, but he had a command and presence. I say that as the only guy I know who could lose a "motion to recess" made after 10:00 p.m. (In fairness, Committee 17 Youth had just completed its business, I knew the maker of a minority report from Committee 13 who had walked out to be seated on the podium, and there was some confusion about what was coming next. So I made the motion which received enthusiastic murmurs of approval from the floor -- until the Assembly was informed that the only business they wanted to conduct was the recognition of seminary presidents and the installation of one of them.They had to vote no on my motion in order to allow that to proceed. It could happen to anyone.)

PC-Biz is spotty. During committees, I was aware of a few problems in our room, but they seemed minor and temporary. Now that we are back in plenary (the whole Assembly acting together) the business is being produced on paper and distributed to the tables. Even so, there have been several complaints when amendments have been made -- they finally show up on PC-Biz after the vote had been taken and we had moved on to something else.

The theme thus far is "peace." The commissioners seem to value peace. They want to pursue peace. Whether that will continue remains to be seen.

I think my assessment of the leanings of this Assembly were fairly accurate. If you read the early business, it would not seem that they were accurate; however, the results do not necessarily tell the whole story. Most of the amendments regarding sexuality curriculum were turned down because: 1) the amendments proposed were long and cumbersome; and, 2) it felt like the commissioners proposing the amendments were pitching for a fight commissioners weren't ready to engage. So, the votes skewed much heavier "progressive." Tonight, however, it seemed to bounce the other way. The middle seems subject to persuasion.

Apparently there are were some demonstrators outside one of the Assembly hotels, shouting Fred Phelps-esque kinds of taunts at Assembly go-ers. Beyond right-wing fundamentalist kinds of language was how it was described to me. Fortunately, my hotel is connected to the convention center and I have missed all that.

Tomorrow: well, tomorrow morning are some elections, the Theological Issues and Institutions (Heidelberg Catechism and Belhar), and the Mission Coordination and Budgets (GAC/Foundation; Six Agency Review, Advocacy Committe reviews). Tomorrow afternoon: Committee 6, nFoG; Committee 16 Worship and Spiritual Renewal (report on the disastrous consensus process); and Commitee 3 General Assembly Procedures (per capita, e-Link).

That's it. I need to get some sleep. We start early tomorrow morning. I'll try to keep posting; but we'll see.