Monday, June 2, 2014

140th General Assembly

   On the first Sunday of June we welcomed Rev. Noel Kinnon to the pulpit as Rev. Irwin was attending the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The theme of this year's Assembly is "Light of the World."

This year marks the 140th assembly since our church was organized as the Presbyterian Church in Canada at a meeting held in Montreal in 1875.

At that first Assembly four main branches of Presbyterianism were represented, the Presbyterian Church of Canada, The Church of Scotland, the Presbyterian Church of the Lower Provinces, and the Presbyterian Church of the Maritime Provinces.  

One of the first pieces of business was the creation of a fund for the relief of widows and orphans of ministers of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

The business of that first assembly was grave, indeed.  The representatives, over 400 of them, were about to constitute the Presbyterian Church in Canada.  Of such weight was this matter, the men were polled by name for the vote.  And it was all men.  The first women commissioners for our denomination attended the General Assembly in 1967 -- 93 meetings later.

Today, the work of General Assembly is open to all.  Click here and you can  see a summary of the reports to be presented, or read the whole report if you like.  If you tune in during the session you can watch them with live-streaming.  You don't even have to a Presbyterian!

Today, we take the structure and courts of our church as a matter of course, but in 1875, all of that constitution and means of governance had to be created -- a monumental task.  Twenty-one committees were formed with mandates as diverse as education, finance, home mission, foreign mission and the state of religion.  I'm not sure what that last one discussed, but there was a motion brought to the assembly concerning the "desecration of the Sabbath on Railroads in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Today's commissioners are also confronted with a difficult and complicated business.  There are reports on the Atlantic Mission, Church Doctrine, Ecumenical and Interfaith Matters, International Affairs, Life and Mission, which includes Presbyterians Sharing, Presbyterian World Service and Development, Planned Giving, Justice -- just to name a few.

 There is a report on the Maclean Estate, a 250 Acre parcel in Southern Ontario, donated to the Presbyterian Church in Canada by the founder of the Maclean-Hunter publishing company.  This is the 40th year of operation of Crieff Hills, has provided a "place apart" for 15,000 guests from within our denomination and from without.  

    The manner and conduct of the 140th General Assembly may differ from the 1st, but don't think that those first commissioners were too dour.  On the first day of their meeting, they accepted an "invitation to a social entertainment" offered by one of the congregations of Montreal.  

    May the work of the 140th General Assembly bear fruit for our denomination and may our commissioners return to their daily lives with their spirits refreshed and renewed.


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