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GA NEWS: “You have a tiger God:” GA plenary opens June 21

SAN JOSE – The 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) kicked off this morning with some bursts of hope – with voices from the leadership of the denomination telling of their work and their conviction that, in the words of Robert Wilson, vice-moderator of the 217th General Assembly, “we are better together.”

Using a mix of video clips and telling stories of the ministry of particular congregations and presbyteries, these denominational leaders both introduced themselves to the commissioners and tried to present a positive face of what PC(USA) is doing well.

Allison Seed, chair of the General Assembly Council, spoke of a council that’s becoming increasingly collaborative, responsive and accountable.

Linda Valentine, the council’s executive director, told of the passion of her staff “that we can do more together and do it better than we can do it alone.”

And Tom Taylor, the PC(USA)’s deputy executive director for mission, said “the General Assembly Council is hungry for interaction with you.”

Joan Gray, moderator of the 217th General Assembly – who will finish up her duties when the moderator of this assembly is elected the evening of June 21 – thanked the many Presbyterians who have shown her hospitality during her two years of travels, including the couple from South Dakota who drove her to the airport at 3:30 a.m. “God bless you,” she said to them and to all who have helped.

Gray said she’s often been asked to describe her hope for the denomination – and answered that by telling a story of a Presbyterian mission co-worker who was told by a man who heard the gospel story, “You have a tiger God.”

A mother tiger, when she senses danger, will grab her cub by the scruff of the neck and not let go. “You have a tiger God,” Gray told the commissioners. No matter what, “God has got us by the scruff of our neck and will never let go.”