In even numbered years in spring, I find myself getting sucked in to all the drama which is the PC(USA)’s General Assembly. This year, it is slated to take place in Detroit from June 14 through June 21.
To get an idea of both the ‘official’ tasks and scheduled activites, check out the docket and schedule. As in past years, specific business items can be found on the pc-biz site. PC-Biz is the best place to follow the items commissioners will consider.
In anticipation of a busy GA season, I am in the process of reorganizing this blog. The menu items that appear at the top of this page provide links to 2014 issues, to commentary on past general assemblies in 2012 and 2010, to a few older posts from between 2005 and 2009, to the Bearing Witness website (run by Jon Haber), and to my (new) other blog. (Surprisingly enough, it is a blog about other topics.)
Because the PC(USA)’s policy on Israelis and Palestinians has become a regular feature of General Assemblies over the last ten years, information and analysis tends to accumulate. My hope is that this will separate out those items specifically debated in 2014 from those that have been debated in the past.
The specifics, the details change from year to year; at the same time, the basic arguments are remarkably similar. It would be difficult to fully understand this General Assembly absent the long context of the prior 6 General Assemblies. It would be like beginning to read a novel three quarters of the way through it. To act without awareness or with one-sided awareness of the actions of years past would be irresponsible and completely hobble the ability of commissioners to make wise choice. But here’s the rub: “starting at the very beginning” may prove an impossible task for many commissioners (even an unreasonable expectation).
Over the next several posts, I’d like to focus on the issues before the 221st General Assembly. Divestment from Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, et al. will, of course, make its de riguer appearance. However, some new twists appear this year: a proposal for the PC(USA) to abandon its support for a two-state solution and a proposed study to clarify the difference between biblical Israel and modern day Israel.
But I also need to spend some time with Presbyterian events that have occurred between 2012 and now. One of the more controversial has been the release by the IPMN of the PC(USA) of its “study guide”, Zionism Unsettled. (Interestingly, that work was well received – indeed praised – by many PC(USA) insiders, by many in the BDS community, by Press TV, and by David Duke.)
It promises to be an interesting season.