Thursday, June 15, 2006

Presbypalooza -- day 1

We all arrived safe and sound for Presbypalooza 2007! That’s right, General Assembly. While the media will cover the big shaking events and decisions, I’m going to try to call attention to those things that are under the radar or just plain interesting to me.

Today was a day of orientation and gathering. I wandered the exhibit hall with all the hawkers of books, partisans for causes, and mavens for mission. And there I began to see one of the great things about Presbypalooza – the network of Presbyterians renewing their friendships. Behind all the contention, commotion, collusion, confrontation, and consternation – behind all the politics, prayers, pundits, pressure and pugilistics – behind all the activity that is General Assembly, we see a reunion of friends from across the country – partners in mission who seek to bring God glory.

There in the exhibit hall, I found Don Dawson – director of both the World Mission Initiative and the New Wilmington Missionary Conference. We caught up about what the Conference will be like – we put our heads together about missions – we talked about his daughter and son-in-law Rachel and Michael who were members of our congregation (and who spent the last year in Slovakia as missionaries). The New Wilmington Mission conference is special to our congregation – we’ve sent people for several years and it has always been a time of renewal around mission, in depth study of the Bible, and sweet fellowship. And here I am reconnecting with old friends from Conference.

During the Commissioner’s orientation, I ran into Michael Carey, Pastor of Satellite Beach Pres and the brainchild behind Purpose Driven Presbyterians. Michael has been a friend and encourager to me and to our congregation for several years – and we were able to catch up and share news about old friends.

While searching for food, I ran across Jim Cook – formerly of First Pres Orlando – Jim shepherded me through the ordination process, going before the committee on preparation with me. Though Jim and I have some different theological perspectives, I have a deep respect for him as a minister and administrator – and seeing him was a sweet surprise.

I met a member of the board of directors for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance – and I told him how our church sent our first mission team through PDA this year – and our people came back powerfully touched. I could go on – friends from Cincinnati and friends from across the country.

So those of you who are at home – that’s what you don’t hear through the news reports – the people to people connection. From a thousand little conversations, dozens of ministries, initiatives, and activities will be born. Articles, essays and manifestos will be worked out through face to face collaboration. Old friendships will be renewed to the benefit of congregations all across the country. It is I Corinthians 12 in action.

Soli Deo Gloria