of the General Presbyter of the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley

June 20, 2022

Sue Westfall


After some requisite “housekeeping” items the 225th General Assembly of the PCUSA got underway this past Saturday with the theme of “From Lament to Hope.” It began with a rousing and what was termed “decolonized” worship service. https://www.pcusa.org/news/2022/6/17/ga-worship-planning-team-prepares-decolonized-wors/ Co-Moderator, Rev. Dr. Greg Bentley (whom many of you know as he has a history in this presbytery and now serves in neighboring North Alabama Presbytery), preached a provocative, challenging, and inspiring sermon based on Micah 6:1-8 entitled, “From Religiosity to Righteousness.,” noting that at a time of great religiosity in Israel, nevertheless injustice abounded and God was not pleased, summoning creation itself to bear witness against the people and their avaricious, dehumanizing ways. One of his compelling lines was this: “The church doesn’t need more people in church, it needs more church in the people!”


A Juneteenth service of worship was held on Sunday, June 19 with our Stated Clerk, J. Herbert Nelson preaching from Isaiah with a similar message exhorting Presbyterians throughout his sermon, “to do more, risking comfort and traditions —including their sense of what it is to be Presbyterian — to work toward liberation and justice for those most in need.”


The other significant action taken by the assembly so far was to elect new co-moderators. The assembly elected the Rev. Ruth Santana-Grace, Executive Presbyter of Philadelphia Presbytery and the Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis, pastor at Memorial Pres in Charlotte, NC. For more information on these two new leaders see https://www.pcusa.org/news/2022/6/19/i-love-being-a-people-of-the-impossible/


The format of this assembly is genuinely hybrid with much of the committee work being done in person in Louisville and the plenary sessions being held virtually. It began in plenary (both in person and on-line) on Saturday through Sunday. For the next two weeks committees will be meeting in person in Louisville. The Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley has an overture before the assembly which was bumped from the 224th Assembly. This overture would change the Book of Order under G-3.0106 to add that in addition to mandated Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Child Protection Policy, presbyteries be required to provide anti-racism training. The Rev. Jay Wilkins will be representing the presbytery as he testifies later this week before the Polity Committee, which was charged on acting on this item. After the two weeks of committee meetings, the Assembly will reconvene in virtual plenary on July 5. Follow the 225th General Assembly at their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/spiritofga/. (The two sermons mentioned above are included at that address.)


Please hold the assembly in your prayers with special prayers for our commissioners: Olympia McCrackin, Brown Memorial, Jim Toomey, First Presbyterian Birmingham, Rev. Junmo Jeong, Opelika Korean Presbyterian, and Rev. Joe Scrivner, Brown Memorial, who is also the chair of the Theology, Worship, and Education Committee of the 225th Assembly. We look forward to hearing their report at the August meeting of the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley.



As ever in prayer,



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