Last week my denomination, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, held its 41st stated General Assembly in Memphis, Tennessee. This is the annual meeting and council (synod) of my church, and every pastor has a right to attend and every congregation may send elder representatives. Though there was plenty else going on at the GA meeting, below is a summary of the official actions taken by the assembly.
To amend the EPC’s constitution requires a majority vote of one assembly, a majority vote of a majority of presbyteries over the next year, and then a majority vote of the subsequent assembly.
We finalized an amendment to the vows and acts of ordination to clarify some differences between phrasing if the ordinand is a teaching elder (pastor), ruling elder, or deacon. We also amended the rules that govern our GA meetings to allow for virtual participation in case of a state of emergency. This change in rules was prompted by our experience with COVID, and not wanting to get caught flat footed again…
George F. Will’s op-ed this morning in the Washington Post is fantastic.
“[Kay Hymowitz] says America’s middle class demands K-12 education that cultivates and celebrates each child’s individuality. Yet the middle class also expects schools to instill this class’s values — accountability, diligence, civility, self-control — ‘that are often in direct tension with students’ autonomy and individuality’…
‘In other cultures, both East and West,’ Hymowitz writes, “parents prize manners and ritualized courtesies over the child’s self-expression. The French teach their two-year-olds to say “bonjour, madame“ or “monsieur” in every encounter.’ Such ritualized greetings strike Americans as artificial and a worrying sign of an overly programmed child.’
They are artificial. As is civilization.”
“The posture of standing [in the public prayer of the church] has been objected to by some…as fatiguing to the feeble and inform. But if the officiating minister be tolerably discreet in the length of his prayers, this objection can have little or no force to those who are in ordinary health. It will, surely, rather be a relief than otherwise to stand up ten, or at most, twelve minutes when the sitting posture is to be maintained during almost the entire remainder of the time allotted to the public services.”
-Samuel Miller, Thoughts on Public Prayer (page 127).
Sometimes I wonder if I pray too long in church (and sometimes my congregants tell me I do) but by Miller’s standards I have been excessively discreet.
Last year, I was horrified at the reports that protestors and parishioners had been gassed by police so that President Trump could have a photo-op in front of St. John’s Church. Well, an internal investigation under the Biden administration has turned up that the police had cleared people from the area for unrelated reasons, and then President Trump arrived for the photo-op. I still think the photo-op itself and the unrelated, indiscriminate gassing of parishioners and clergy was bad, but my characterization of President Trump’s actions was premised upon a falsehood.