Dear Church Family,
Andrew and I are in Mobile for the PCA General Assembly and I wanted to share with you the highlights for your joy and encouragement.
General Assembly is the annual meeting of PCA people to connect, refresh and do the business of the denomination. Reports are heard from each of the ministries of the denomination – like Covenant Seminary and College, Mission To The World, Mission to North America, Reformed University Ministries and so on. Pastors and elders from churches all over the country are called commissioners and the commissioners hear and vote on various items. One big item this year is determining a denominational confession of past racism, both of omission and commission, in the Presbyterian Church, and a commitment to deliberate efforts toward reconciliation. I am glad this debate is happening here in Mobile, Alabama because walking the streets of old downtown, the history of racial suffering cries out in so many ways. It is impossible to make this just an academic debate when ‘their blood cries out.’
The Assembly opened with a worship service last night. We sang, heard the word preached, took communion together – over 2,500 men and women with strong voices singing and sweet fellowship. What I most wanted to pull you church family in to share with me was the humility evident in the speaker and the listeners. Several thousand people on the eve of debating deeply-felt issues, yet all of one mind, agreeing that we can’t do anything without Jesus Christ, praying that the discussions of the next few days would be bathed in His grace and favor, that the debates over very important particulars of faith and practice would come from humble hearts that stand firmly on truth and that submit to a sovereign God. Be so thankful for the earnest prayer and heart of the leaders of our denomination! I am.
After the worship service, the assembly elected this year’s moderator and they elected none other than Andrew’s best childhood friend, George Robertson. While accepting this office, George mentioned his friend Andrew who had invited him to church as a boy, which opened George’s heart and eyes to the doctrine of grace. God is so good!
I missed this however, because I was in the exhibit hall (where all the vendors and book sellers set up) running my mouth and reuning with old friends and also calling Will to check on him. He had texted me earlier in the evening to assure me he was home safely from work and fed. Actually, his text read, “Home from work and doing illicit drugs. No worries.”
The convention center is right on the Mobile Bay and the moon over the bay last night was magical.
Andrew checked an item off his Alabama bucket list when we ate dinner at the original Wintzell’s Oyster House with dear friends Tom and Beth Ann Stein. My reality on this excursion was rubbing up an enormous blister because we walked many blocks to get there – normally no big, but I was wearing a brand-new pair of platform shoes, hitherto unworn, in order to look, you know, young and hip. We see so many old friends at GA, the pressure is on to be thin and ageless. Tom, ever the practical Midwesterner said, “Yes, but bloody is not sexy.” My southern Mother-in-law would counter that with her own ironclad truth: “Beauty is painful.” I was torn, but comfort won out and the brand new platforms sit bloody and upturned in hotel room corner.
This morning I did one of my favorite things – the urban run. I know calling Mobile ‘urban’ makes New Yorkers chuckle, but to us Cullmanites, Mobile is quite urban and the run was delightful.
Well, this is long and rambling, but I really wanted to share the experience with you so you can rejoice in our great, great God!