Immediately following the end of its business on Saturday, June 27, 2020, the 224th General Assembly moved into a time of worship to close the assembly. This historic, first-ever virtual meeting concluded by remembering the words of the prophet Ezekiel, who was told by God to prophesy new breath into lifeless, dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1-10). Soloist Camille Metoyer Moten sang, “I Am Your Breath,” reminding worshippers that God is the one who sustains the rejected and disrespected.
During the prayers of the people, worshippers responded to the “needs of the church, the world, and all in need,” saying “Hear our prayer” during this litany that asked God for healing and wholeness. Led by Kenneth Kovacs, those praying beseeched God to empower the church and break down all barriers that seek to divide. Specific needs of the pandemic that presented challenges to congregations were uplifted, as well as the plea to dismantle systemic racism.
Closing remarks were made by Diane Moffett, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. She encouraged worshippers to remember that Jesus Christ is with them always. Yes, there is much to lament and grieve, but “I grieve as a person of hope,” Moffett professed. Using the words of the song “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less,” she told listeners that she had hope in them, thanking the commissioners, advisory delegates and observers of this General Assembly for their commitment to the church.
J. Herbert Nelson, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), likewise shared words of encouragement. He commended the participants for their capacity to overcome the technological challenge of this virtual meeting, with its great success being proof that the Lord has been “on our side.” While lamenting the loss that the pandemic has brought, Nelson uplifted signs of hope even during these times, citing letters of joy sharing news of congregational giving increasing and attendance at online services growing. Nelson encouraged worshippers to leave worship and profess that Jesus lives because he was felt and seen in this place.
Co-moderator of the 224th GA Gregory Bentley concluded the service with a blessing, reminding worshippers that Christ leads them as they seek to do God’s work in the world. Referencing the words of the PC(USA) Matthew 25 initiative, he implored listeners to do the work of congregational vitality, dismantling systemic racism and eradiating poverty.
by Sarah Colwill, for the Presbyterian Outlook