The Renaissance Marriott in Detroit intimidated me at first. The building is strikingly beautiful, but the floor plan is a confusing maze of circles with different levels and half levels. Though you can see point B clearly from point A, the path between the two requires a tricky combination of escalators, elevators and prayer. I confess that at the beginning of the week, I sometimes just walked laps around a circle until I could get oriented enough to figure out which direction I should actually go.
I’m not the only one who had a few navigation issues in the building. Delegates, commissioners and others traded tips and suggested a particular escalator or walking the opposite direction to get to the elevator. Sometimes there actually was a better way to get to the guest floors, but other times just moving in the general direction of a destination was progress enough, helping me to find a familiar landmark. My goal, shared with others, was to locate the People Mover so I could ride it to Cobo and be on time for meetings
Last week at GA, the PC(USA) has felt a bit like the Renaissance Marriott hotel to me. At first, I was in awe of how beautiful and big our denomination seemed during opening worship. I had never experienced worship with a group of bagpipers and a full symphony. In spite of being familiar with Robert’s Rules, the meetings and assembly had twists and turns that confused me. Around the time we voted on adding an oxford comma in the third amendment to the amendment to the main motion, I knew Presbyterian polity was not for the faint of heart. The debates and decisions that played out this week in Detroit will now lead to other discussion and decisions throughout our denomination. I hope no one is left to wander, searching for discernment alone.
From what I saw this week, I’m proud to be a Presbyterian. We may have walked a few laps during debates and discussions. Sometimes the paths from point A to point B were daunting. I’m sure there are some who worried we didn’t get to the train in time while others may feel the train is running off the track. Throughout the week I heard some people stress love; I heard others invoke Scriptures. I pray that the PC(USA) can move forward with both love and devotion to God’s word. Those aren’t opposite sides, after all. I pray that as we try to explain and justify the paths we take from A to B, we take comfort in knowing that we do not face anything alone. I hope we show love and patience to each other, giving pause for reflection before engaging in whatever reconciliation we feel called to pursue. May we focus on faithfully following our God, attune to the spirit and anchored by the Word.
Sara Sutter, a rising middler student at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, is attending the 221st General Assembly as a Theological Student Advisory Delegate.