In the Presence of Giants: Commissioners Blog

by Jim Lifton, Ruling Elder commissioner to the 2014 General Assembly from Chicago Friendship Presbyterian Church
Reflections on the 221st General Assembly

Used with permission

Photo courtesy of Jeff Bridgeman

Reflecting on General Assembly a month past, my strongest impression is of the wonderful people I met. Whenever I needed directions, or a smile, or a word of encouragement, a member of the Committee on Local Arrangements was there. It was like having old friends in a new town.

Our work and worship wouldn’t have been possible without dozens of folks who took on leadership responsibilities, many of them volunteering their time. They led with a sense of purpose, and commitment, and joy, sometimes smoothing out what could have been a rough road.

You’ve likely heard or read about emotional debate, close votes, and perhaps decisions that you don’t agree with. It was all of that and more, but I came away with a deeper understanding of what it means to do things “decently and in order.” I’m especially grateful for the wisdom of two teaching elders, giants among us, and want to lift them up by name.

  • Jeff Bridgeman moderated the Civil Union and Marriage Issues committee. His presentation in plenary session was clear and fair. Before leaving the podium Jeff offered a personal perspective. His church during seminary, the church where he accepted his first call, and his mother’s church have all left the PC (USA). He then introduced an overture calling for a “…process of working together with churches in the task of reconciliation…”
  • John Wilkinson, one of the candidates for moderator, offered language honoring what marriage has been (“traditionally a man and a woman”) even as we move to a broader understanding of what it can be (between “two people”).

I try not to be too prideful, at least not too often, but these three made me especially proud to be a Presbyterian.

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