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.
- So my only question is: when can I go again? HA!