This past weekend Andy and I had our first get-away…with the babies. Our first family trip! (I don’t count the move out here). We attended the Big Tent Conference for PCUSA, which was held in Indianapolis at the very posh JW Marriott, the new “monolith” of the city, as one church member described it.
First, before I forget, I couldn’t believe HOW MUCH WE HAD TO BRING FOR THE BABIES. We were only going to be gone for two nights and yet the entire back of the Subaru Outback was FILLED. TO. THE. BRIM. My things literally took up half of a backpack. How could two tiny beings ‘need’ so much??? Maybe we just think they need all that stuff…?
The weekend was a gift. I received a scholarship from GA, and Andy got a scholarship from his Presbytery, too, which really encouraged us both to attend even with the babies, especially since our accommodations were also covered by the different agencies. Anyways, it was also really neat having access to ten simultaneous conferences and being able to pick and choose a wide variety of workshops. I ended up mainly being with one, while Andy bopped around.
Of course, it was a wonderful chance to catch up with friends…seminary and from past calls. Andy caught up with so many, and we even had “Uncle Bobby” with us for the week prior. I spent the first late night of the conference in the room with the babies. Erica PK sat with me and we talked babies and ministry. Seeing Bridgett G, Kiran YW and Ruth-Aimee B-R among others was truly sweet, and then meeting new folks, too, like tweeps I have been meaning to for so long (although I missed out on meeting a bunch).
In terms of the conference itself, I am still chewing on the dialogue over immigration reform (an issue close to my heart especially these last three years – it just gets me fired up) and the passing of the new Form of Government (nFOG). The two are actually related. It seems many immigrant and racial-ethnic communities are up in arms about nFOG namely because of the loss of formal accountability (Committee on Representation). This is a lot of blahblahblah, but it seems like the conflict lies in making sure everyone continues to have equal access to the proverbial table as they seek to do ministry. James Kim did the tough job of representing that task force and fielding questions and criticism. I walked away with a greater appreciation of the new direction PCUSA is heading towards – realizing it’s still undefined and open – and the new language (reflecting and shaping, I hope, new attitudes): Seeking to foster creative ministry where ministry is happening…the local churches.
I think that as we continue to dialogue about how this is embodied in the PCUSA system, I will hold onto a quote offered by the presenter for the immigration workshop, especially reflecting on boundaries, as this seems to also be a big component of nFOG:
Inclusion is the discipline of extending our boundary to take into consideration another… – Eric Law
As we seek to live this out (I’m also thinking of how 10-A fits into nFOG now), I hope this kind of inclusion will be explored in purposeful and tangible ways…
(Sorry for all the unexplained PCUSA jargon – if you have questions just ask, I am typing on my Iphone).