This is my first GA and, like a stereotype of myself, I’m getting there late. I have a good excuse. We have a drop in center for street based LGBTQ youth at our church in Chicago on Friday night. I’ll be hanging out until midnight with a bunch of youth who barely care that we’re a church much less that I’m a pastor (much, much less that I’m a Presbyterian teaching elder.) I’m hoping that spending my GA eve with youth who are so far removed from the PC(USA) bubble will give me good perspective on my first General Assembly. Perspective I hope I can pass on to you, faithful reader.
It’ll probably just be surreal. A Friday night hanging out with a couple dozen transgender youth followed by a week of hanging out with a whole mess of Presbyterians is already scrambling my brain a little.
This is my first GA and I’m jumping in to the deep end. I’ll be advocating for two overtures: 10-02 On Amending W4.9000 Marriage and 09-01 On Taking Meaningful Action to Reduce Gun Violence. Am I qualified? I don’t know. I’ve only been ordained since September, I know more about places to get good ramen in Chicago than Robert’s Rules, and I’m crashing in my dad’s hotel room in Detroit (thanks, dad!) But I’ve seen someone get shot at 71st and Jeffery on the south side of Chicago and really want to find ways to connect with my brothers and sisters in Christ at our south and west side Presbyterian churches to end gun violence. I talk to queer youth about suicide, homelessness and sex trafficking every week and I’ve heard what their dreams for equality sound like. Those are my bona fides. We’ll see how this week goes….
This is my first GA but it isn’t, like, my first GA. I used to wear a threadbare baseball shirt with green sleeves from the 1978 General Assembly. The shirt was my dad’s, then my mom wore it for a while and then I wore it until it literally fell apart. We’re a very Presbyterian family, I guess. 1978 in San Diego was my dad’s first GA when he was a youth pastor. He ran the slide projector because, you know, the kids are good at technology. Now I wonder, is blogging the 2014 equivalent of running a slide projector?
I also remember a GA inside a building with whales painted on it in Long Beach, California, when I was in middle school. Until I went to opening worship amongst those 2D sea mammals, I’d most frequently gone to that building to watch the Ice Dogs play minor league hockey. The worship service was pretty cool, but you didn’t have to watch for pucks and they didn’t play that WOOHOO song after the sermon. That doesn’t make me GA-savvy, I know, but I can take a one timer from the slot and avoid a hip check along the boards.
This is my first GA and I’m going pack my skateboard. My stated clerk said there was a lot of walking, so four urethane wheels should solve that problem. I’m going to pack all the “adult” clothes I have. (I might not have enough!) I wish I could just wear my robe all week. That’s how I get away with dressing like a hipster on Sundays. I’m going pack a few threadbare t-shirts too. They’ll remind me of who I am and where I come from. What are you bringing to GA that grounds you? Let me know on twitter @alexwirthlvpc.
Alex Wirth grew up in perma-sunny Long Beach, CA blissfully unaware of changing seasons and snow. He went to University of California, Santa Cruz to major in marine biology because of his love of plankton but ended up with a degree in English literature because of his love of reading. Upon graduation, like most English majors, Alex had no plan for his future. He concocted wild ideas with his friends about constructing rafts made of trash and floating down the Mississippi or converting old school buses to bio-diesel and driving to the Gulf Coast to help with Katrina Relief. Alex shared these ideas with his parents and they lovingly suggested he consider something with health insurance. Alex ended up serving as a PCUSA Young Adult Volunteer in Belfast, Northern Ireland for a year. It was during this year of service that Alex found the call that God had placed on his life to serve the “least of these” whom Christ calls his family and become an ordained minister. Alex now has his Masters Of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and does building maintenance and social justice work at Lake View Presbyterian Church. Alex buys vinyl albums more than mp3s, tries to ride his bike more than drive a car, make/bake things more than buy them, and generally stick to a punk rock, do-it-yourself mindset like Jesus did.