Thursday, June 12, 2008

Surprising things from General Assembly

I’m at the PCA’s General Assembly this week, which means I’m enjoying a week of visiting with old friends and new, gathering resources, ministering to friends and acquaintances, and meeting with over 1000 delegates to handle some important decisions for our denomination.

Over the week, here are a few things that I’ve noticed, heard, or been a part of that I’ve found delightfully surprising (I’ll update this list as the week goes on):
  • I served on the Committee of Commissioners (which essentially serves to audit the minutes and reports of the agencies of the denomination) for Covenant Theological Seminary. Our committee invited Bryan Chapell, who is the president of the seminary, to share with us any personal and pastoral needs and concerns that he, his family, and the community of the seminary may have. Let me add, this was a sweet and touching time. Here’s the surprising thing: Dr. Chapell said that no one (which I take to mean no committee) had ever asked him about that.
  • Friends old and new: I’ve seen three friends that I’ve known since high school or earlier, two of whom are pastors and one is the wife of a pastor. I’ve also seen and met with two friends who I have gotten to know over the past months and years only through my blogs and through e-mail exchanges.
  • Gary Campbell, who is the director of the PCA’s Retirement and Benefits, Inc. agency, was extended a pay increase that was reported on in the assembly. Here’s the surprise: Gary actually asked the board to REDUCE the pay increase that he was offered, out of concern that the resources of that agency be best utilized. The good news also is that the board refused to reduce it, recognizing that this act was a microcosmic representation of why Gary deserves a pay increase in the first place.
  • Presbyterians eat, right? And I’ve shared every meal with a friend, classmate, or new acquaintance. Here’s the fun surprise: my generous and hospitable friends have bought most of my meals, and I’ve actually only paid for one meal so far (as of Thursday morning). For that one, I took the opportunity to buy my companion’s meal, so that I could pass along the goodwill and hospitality. UPDATE: well, the trend continued. All told, I bought three meals all week. May I take this opportunity to say, THANKS! to all my friends who were so gracious.
  • Dr. Kooistra (who served as moderator for this assembly) is quite witty, and was able to bring an element of fun and lightheartedness even to some of the more serious discussion. It was wonderful to see this man of such stature and accomplishment not take himself too seriously (while not belittling the tasks or discussions before him, either).

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