Thursday, July 9, 2020

GA 2020 like no other

General Assembly 2020 Was Like No Other

Jo and Rick Randolph at GA 2018 in St. Louis
If this were a normal time, Presbyterians for Earth Care would have been in Baltimore the last week of June at the PC(USA)’s 224th General Assembly (GA). We would have had a booth in the Exhibit Hall that we would have shared with Presbyterians for Carbon Dividend (P4CD). We would have focused on disposable plastics at the booth, and welcomed new visitors and chatted with others whom we knew. We would have supported earth care overtures, especially Fossil Free PCUSA’s divestment overture. We would have celebrated PEC’s 25thAnniversary at a luncheon where Rebecca Barnes, Coordinator of the Presbyterian Hunger Program, would have been our guest speaker and we would have presented our annual awards.

As we are all well aware, this is not a normal time. General Assembly transitioned to a virtual meeting with only essential business being conducted. This shortened format meant there were no committee meetings and no social justice issues debated, with a few exceptions. That meant that the Fossil Fuel Divestment Overture would not be taken up until the next GA in 2022. However, this did not deter FFPCUSA. They changed their strategy to work at the presbytery level and will present a training on August 19 at 8 PM Eastern.

Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) normally hosts a Peace Breakfast at General Assembly where progressive Presbyterian organizations describe their groups and explain which overtures they are supporting. Instead PPF offered a ZOOM call where groups introduced themselves and attendees were then distributed into breakout rooms by the organization they wanted to learn more about. PEC Moderator Dennis Testerman and Coordinator Jane Laping led the PEC discussion and answered questions about solar panels on a 100 year old church and how a new pastor could create excitement around caring for God's creation.

Although PEC was very disappointed that COVID-19 changed GA from an in-person to an online event, there were some good lessons learned from the experience, including being able to reach more people. In place of an in-person event, PEC will hold a virtual luncheon to hear from Rebecca Barnes and present our Annual Awards. This event is still in the planning stages but will most likely happen in September. Stay tuned!

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