"Hope in our Calling"

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A Great Start to Friday Morning – Election of new Stated Clerk.

Reported by Hans Hallundbaek

We are going to transform this world one person at a time,” such were the promising words of Rev. Dr. J Herbert Nelson, who this morning was elected PC USA Stated Clerk with a clear majority of 447 vs. 112.

These words were in clear continuation of earlier statements by the new Stated Clerk, when he prophesied, “We are approaching a time of reformation of the Church,” and continued, “We must look beyond the church, ….towards the promised Kingdom of God, ….the key is that we have the will to come together.”

With the world in increasing turmoil it seems appropriate, that the church, albeit with some trepidation, contributes its spiritual wisdom to the community and the world to which we all belong. The challenge is clear and daunting. May God give us courage and strength.

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And There’s Been Music

Photos by Hans Hallundbaek

Have we been sitting too long listening to each other talk and so needing a short break to revive us?  Are we getting ready for a new plenary session?  Are we leaving the hall in search of lunch, dinner, or sleep?  If so, HRP Teaching Elder Chip Andrus is probably the one giving us the energy to do whatever we’re up to next with the music he and his band are providing throughout our days together.


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Thursday Evening’s Long But Important Plenary

Reported by Heather Mustavs

After a busy, and might I say tedious day, plenary entered into evening session. As usual Chip Andrus and his band led us in song. Samson Tso, a teaching elder commissioner from the presbytery of New York City led us in opening prayer. We then heard a short presentation presenting Gradye Parsons with a specially made “word cloud” consisting of words from family and friends. Over the course of the evening we took action on about twenty overtures. I will tell you about the most interesting ones. First, I will talk about the ‘foothills overtures’. The committee assigned to address these overtures recommended that the assembly dissaprove them. The assembly approved the disapproval of these overtures. I was happy with this outcome. One of the most troubling aspects of the foothills overtures was suggesting that the next three assemblies not address social justice issues. To me that is ludacris. Just because it may be difficult to address these issues does not mean that we should not try. Secondly, I would like to proudly report on action taken to apologize to the LGBTQ/Q community. The assembly approved a resolution “On the Admission of, and Apology for, Harms done to the LGBTQ/Q members of the PC(USA), family and friends.” (Concurred by our very own Hudson River Presbytery!) This passed with a vote of 463 to 51. I am so happy that we took this action. This is a step for the church to keep moving in the right direction, and it makes me hopeful for what the future of PC(USA) looks like. I returned to my hotel only to find that I had to attend a YAAD meeting. In case I am making it sound like it is all work and no fun, I am sorry because we do have fun! For example, today during a short stretch break we hit beach balls around, and I have been playing with play-doh! Also, I sit next to Jacob so occasionally (all the time) we joke around. Tomorrow is another day!

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…and then, thank God, there were Worship and Prayers at GA!

Reported by Hans Hallundbaek


Let me assure the reader that at General Assembly prayers abound: prayers when overtures are introduced, when they stall, when they are revived and certainly when they finally pass. Prayers when moderators are elected, when missionaries are anointed, when the state clerk is retired, and at a multitude of occasions in between. I trust that above the Oregon Convention Center the good Lord was quite busy sorting out all these prayers, in addition to the fervent prayers directed towards refugees, immigrants, minorities, and all in need in this country and around globe.

Even more importantly, the GA was certainly not short on exercising the privilege and duty of worship of the great mystery we call God. I was not at all worship services but enough to be blessed by three different and wonderful sermons on “The Prodigal Son” and one even more inspiring on “The good Samaritan.” These were great sermons on the concepts of reconciliation and forgiveness, and on the need for love of neighbor. I am grateful to have received enough creative sermon inspiration for the next several months.

As if that was not enough for the ongoing spiritual nurture of the body of believers during busy days of deliberations and policy setting, we were repeatedly treated to joyful, uplifting music by the a worship band led by our very own HRP pastor Chip Andrus. I express this in sincere gratitude for these spiritually nurturing interludes.