I am attending the meeting of the General Assembly next week. And I am looking forward to it. Whoever thought I might put those two sentences back to back. An oxymoronic reality.
A little background before I get on the plane to Denver early Monday evening.
General assemblies are Presbyterian things, a court or council of the larger church. In our former denomination the general assembly was the highest court of the church with synods, presbyteries, and sessions further down the food chain. Its meetings could be cumbersome and bureaucratic, outsiders not to feel much welcome. The EPC has wisely nixed the archaic synod, so by Book of Order definition, “The General Assembly, composed of all the courts and local churches of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, expresses the unity and relatedness of all the parts. It has the responsibility of overseeing the total work of the Church.” Pastors, elders, and visitors alike. EPC general assemblies are joy-filled and welcoming.
Listed as the first responsibility of the General Assembly is this: To organize itself as it deems best for the propagation of the gospel, the advancement of the Kingdom, and the edification of the whole Church.
The General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church has a small staff, modest programs, and good meetings. I am looking forward to four days in Denver next week. On Tuesday I will attend an all-day seminar on transitional ministry which should be helpful in our next year at LPC. Then Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday will be taken with the meeting of the whole Assembly.
At points during the Assembly meeting motions will be made and seconded, debate had, and votes taken. But mostly we will sing and worship, receive encouraging – and challenging – reports from around the church, and hear sermons that open the Word to our lives in the church and in the world.
We will hear Andrew Brunson, an EPC pastor/missionary, who was released from a Turkish jail just this past fall after two years of imprisonment for the sake of the Gospel. We will be reminded of the cost of discipleship.
Léonce Crump, a former NFL player now pastor, will speak to us. Celebrity pastor, to be sure, but a wise man who understands what it means to bring the Gospel to neighborhoods and generations that have not heard its truth or experienced its power.
General assemblies, synods, presbyteries, and sessions. Presbyterian vocabulary, and important, I think. Good but odd words aside, next week in Denver we will get a small taste of the unity of the Church in praise and worship, seminar and sermon. We will strategize as to how best to organize ourselves for the propagation of the gospel, the advancement of the Kingdom, and the edification of the whole Church.
I’m going to the General Assembly and looking forward to the oxymoronic reality of it.