Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!
What child doesn’t love a secret? One wants so badly to “be in on the surprise” but quickly learns that it makes the whole event anti-climatic. Perhaps even the same could be said for the process called Robert’s Rules of Order.
Yesterday (July 5) at the General Assembly we had a lesson (or 2 or 3…) in wait, wait, don’t tell me. Let me explain.
First there is the main motion that has to be “perfected” followed by the vote if there are no “substitute” motions or a minority report. The further you get away from the main motion the more opportunity to change the original intent. As a Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Boise I am supposed to be good at Robert’s Rules but, thankfully, the presbytery more often works on a modified consensus model.
Back to the process… Yesterday the assembly began to address the issue of Divestment of companies in which the PC USA and entities are invested that contribute to the lack of peace between Israel and Palestine. My intention is not to address all the nuances of this main motion, which by the way, was about a page long. The Committee that addressed this overture spent a day and a half in hearings and deliberation before agreeing to the main motion that came to the floor for discussion and a vote.
I sat in on most of the hearings and question time. Jewish and Palestinian advocates spoke one after another. Very different human stories unfolded. The tension and anticipation in the room was palatable. The MRTI (Mission Responsibility Through Investment) made it clear that they had worked diligently with both HP and Caterpillar for many years to have them be responsible about whom they sell their goods and for what reason they would be used. MRTI advised it was time to divest in these companies for their total non-response to the concerns of our denomination for peaceable relations in the region. Again, as I was observing the committee work I couldn’t help but feel wait, wait… what on earth will be their recommendation!
The hours between the end of committee work and the beginning of the plenary were ones of anticipation for the final motions that will come to the assembly and what the outcome will be for the commissioners debate. Regardless of where one stands on the major issues of Divestment, Marriage, and the restructuring of the denomination, the anticipation is organic. So much of the future of the PC USA rides on the decisions that will be sent to the presbyteries for confirmation.
So, I sit as an official Observer wondering, praying, listening, learning, agonizing, being taken back to my childhood excitement for wait, wait, don’t tell me… I am both frightened and excited for the working of the Holy Spirit through the faithful men and women who are “doing the work of the Church.” I am not at all sure I want to know the secret of how God is working, pulling, pushing back, within our church. But I do know that “we” are “God’s” for sure.
So I venture forth into my day… at the end the secret will be out and our work but be furthered. Follow along: