Posted by: Chris Hoskins | May 25, 2009

General Assembly – Friday Proceedings

General Assembly Day 2

Today has been quite a full day. The morning started with communion, then we had a number of debates, the largest of which was the Church and Society debate, although the HIV/AIDS project report was today as well.

The communion service was very uplifting. I’ve yet to be to a worship element of GA that isn’t uplifting! I’ve said before that the unaccompanied singing at GA is awesome, it was especially awesome during the singing of ‘Ye gates’ this morning, the sound of that being sung blew me away! I also really enjoyed the moderators address, let me share 4 points I especially liked from the address:
.we are united by our weaknesses
.we are united by the strength we find in God and in each other
.the Church should be a community of ‘changed lives that reflect Gods love corporately’
.it is as a unit we function, not as individuals.

The moderator also prayed for us to be an ‘unbroken fellowship’. I liked that idea too!

There were a couple of comedy moments for me this morning. To me, when the assembly was reciting the Apostles Creed, it sounded quite similar to when the Borg collective speak in Star Trek! There was also a moment when Bill Hewitt (The Moderator) seemed to forget he was Mod and went to sit in the playpen(the square, fenced in area in front of the Mods chair) instead of the Mods chair!

Although there were a few reports today, I want to focus my comments on the Church and Society report. As a whole, I though the report was rather good, there were parts I loved and parts I hated, but I want to focus this blog ‘report’ on some of the points I picked up during the debate.

The vocal report given at the assembly was opened with a strong statement of disappointment that MP’s have put more energy into clearing up the expenses debacle than they do on some of the issues addressed in the Church and Society report. They also stated that they saw the report as being the council getting us to ask questions about ourselves, our Church and our society. At one point, the council was asked if it would produce a statement opposing the BNP. They had no issue with opposing the BNP, they just reckoned that the people of Scotland were too bright to allow the BNP power.

When the report moved on to the section on ‘Growing up in Scotland’ my attention peaked. This is because I, alongside some other people I’ve known for a while were involved in the working party that put together this section of the report. So I was quite interested to see what was presented about it and what responses there were to it.

The section was introduced with the convener saying that the Council wanted to keep pressing the Government on issues surrounding meeting the needs of young people and that they also see a need for more consistency in policy. It was also suggested that the council look into the influence TV has on our society.

As ever, someone managed to bring up the idea of Youth Reps being allowed to vote, in an indicative manner. This usually comes up during the Mission and Discipleship report, not Church and Society! Marjory McLean, the acting principle clerk and also a legend amongst Youth Reps, reminded the assembly that the current status of Youth Reps and voting is that we cannot vote in any way just, but the question of us having some sort of indicative role is being thought about by various people, including the Youth themselves. She suggested that might think of ‘creative ways that old people haven’t thought of’. I’m not quite sure where I am on the idea of Youth Reps voting, I think its much more complicated than just hearing how the youth reps would vote, but I’ll look at that on a different blog post.

There was some discussion about Trident and other nuclear deterrents, the highlight of that section of the debate was when the council recommended against hitting nuclear warheads with hammers!

There was considerable debate over the issues in Israel/ Palestine.One issue that was toiled over was whether or not the GA should support the Two state solution in Israel/ Palestine. One commissioner was against the idea on the principle of not supporting the creation of mono-ethnic countries. Another commissioner worried that a two-state solution would lead to the creation of a Palestinian Ghetto, which I disagree with. I would argue, after being in Israel/ Palestine last year, that if things stay the same way they are now, then a Palestinian Ghetto will become. From what I saw last year, it’s heading in that direction, but I’ll cover that more fully in another blog post.

There was a cracking quote from one of the overseas delegates: “There is no peace without justice and no justice without human rights” (Rev Dr Tharwut Kades, evangelical presbyterian Church of Egypt.

After the world Church and society debate, a few of us decided we were done for the day and headed to the starbucks on the royal mile. One thing you should note at this point, is that the Heineken Cup Final was being played in Edinburgh yesterday, Leinster vs Leicester. Bearing that in mind, when we got to the starbucks on the royal mile the royal mile was packed with rugby fans. They all seemed to be having a great time, and an even greater time was had when somebody produced a rugby ball and started kicking it! It kept getting kicked up and down the royal mile, they even started aiming for open windows! That was fun to watch for a while! That day was rounded of nicely with a lovely dinner with my gorgeous wife Linda!

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