After a fairly long and useless morning, we broke for Lunch. Today I meet Dan Dan the Hotdog Man, at this awesome hotdog restaurant to get a real Detroit Coney Dog! It was awesome, that is after getting some good Jibing from Dan about my California attire, which made the experience all that much better.
But with an unusually brief introductory section we jumped right into the Civil Union and Gay Marriage, which did catch me a little off guard. For months I had been think about what I was going to say in this time, I knew I needed to say something. But when I was limited to 1 minute I had to quickly think of what was best to say. I chose to speak about Westminster and their struggle, but also their choice to welcome all people Conservatives and Liberals, Gays and Straight (I did not have a chance to expand on that in one minute). I spoke to the cost it has had the Westminster congregation but that doing that was important to be able to minister in our community. I also spoke to how I needed to be able to officiate at services that my conscious and the Holy Spirit called me to do.
It passed and it passed well. In lay terms, while we now allow Gay Marriage, we do affirm both an individual pastors and an individual congregations choice of whether or not to do them. There is also a little confusion there were two main things that came out one was an Authoritative witness, which goes into effect now, and a change to the Book of Order that will go into effect after the Presbyteries ratify it.
I have to say that the cool thing about GA is that once we get going it does get pretty exciting and we are really talking about important things. In addition to the discussion of Gay Marriage, we hit on Gun Violence and Taxes.
The essence of the Gun violence action says
In response to Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call, which calls us to “encourage the church at every level—from individual member to congregation, presbytery, synod, and national church—to become informed and active in preventing gun violence” and urges that “the church take responsibility to build public awareness of gun violence and the epidemic of preventable gun-related deaths”
The recommendations in the tax report seeks to make the U.S. tax system fairer, calling it to be:
• more progressive, taxing those with greater wealth at higher proportions of their income, wealth, and inheritance;
• more transparent, which includes both simplicity and accountability for all tax preferences and tax expenditures;
• more solidarity-focused, which means reducing the use of tax expenditures, shelters and havens, and supporting more adequate international standards to reduce tax competition within and among nations;
• more sustainable for current and future generations, which means avoiding unproductive financial and ecological indebtedness; and
• more adequate, effectively addressing broader objectives of economic and social health than efficiency alone, such as meaningful employment, improved family life, and restored public trust. The tax system must be characterized by both efficiency in tax collection and revenue sufficient for the common good.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen