Friday, July 29, 2016

What happened at General Assembly in Portland?

PEC Makes Waves at General Assembly

PEC had a strong presence at the 222nd General Assembly in Portland, Oregon last month. In addition to staffing our booth in the Exhibit Hall and hosting our Luncheon and Awards Presentation, we also supported many eco-justice overtures. All passed through committee and then the Assembly with the exception of the Fossil Fuel Divestment overture. In summary of General Assembly, Bruce Reyes-Chow (Moderator of the 218th GA) tweeted: “While there have been many ‪#‎GA222 decisions that have gone the way I had hoped, our failure to divest in fossil fuels is a monumental miss.” The results of the overtures are listed below.

Committee members and Overture Advocates:
Jenny Holmes, Karen Turney, Sue Smith, Rev. Carolyn Gillette

   On Amending “The Ministry of Members,” by adding “Caring for God’s Creation passed pretty handily in both committee and plenary. The beauty of this overture is that now it is being sent out to the Presbyteries for a vote to include in the Book of Order, requiring all Presbyteries to talk about caring for creation.
   On Choosing to be a Church Committed to the Gospel of Matthew 25 was amended with comments that did not materially change the overture and passed unanimously in committee and by voice vote in plenary. The Matthew 25 overture includes protecting the poor from climate change and streamlining the process by which eco-justice concerns are brought before General Assembly.
   On Advocacy Against Factory Farming was approved as amended in committee and in the Assembly. It still calls for advocacy - for humane treatment of animals on any size farm, but some of the language that was added is not consistent with the original meaning of the overture.

   On PC(USA) Fossil Fuel Divestment passed out of committee as written. However, a minority report was filed and it became the main motion in plenary and passed. In the end, MRTI is to continue engagement and come back to the next GA with recommendations, possibly to selectively divest from companies.
   On Witnessing Against Environmental Degradation and Affirming Public Policy to Support Good Stewardship of Natural Resources was approved unanimously as amended in committee and by voice vote in the Assembly. This document gives the offices of the Presbyterian Mission Agency the authority to speak out on issues of fossil fuel extraction, processing, transport and storage and gives voice to the “least of these” who are disproportionately affected by fossil fuel carelessness.
   On Communicating Gratitude for and Study of the Encyclical “Laudato Si” passed in committee and was approved on the consent agenda in the Assembly. This overture celebrates the brilliant work of Pope Francis’ Encyclical to all people and affirms the moral ground that we of faith have in protecting our planet, humans and creatures. It also supports an annual ecumenical day of prayer for the Care of Creation on September 1 to be included in the PC(USA) program calendar.

We are grateful for the work of individuals, churches, and presbyteries in their guidance and witness in writing and following through with these overtures.

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