So the Committee Hearings are over and Wednesday is a day to catch our breath! So I figured this would be a good time to give everyone an update.
This GA has been dominated by a few issues: Fossil Fuel Divestment, the Reorganization of the PMA/OGA and Middle East Issues. Regarding Fossil Fuel Divestment, the environmental committee passed the overture to divest by a vote of 35-25, which I think is a greater margin that in Portland in 2016. However, that overture in 2016 was defeated in the Plenary. My guess is that it will be the same, there does not seem to be an overwhelming desire of people to pursue divestment of anything right now. Even in the Middle East Committee, anytime boycotts etc came up, people spoke against it.
I have yet to have a chance to read any of the reorganization overtures that are coming forward. As a primer, there are three organizations within the denomination that have been looking at such a reorganization, the Way Forward Commission, the All Agency Review and the 2020 Committee. All three have been very critical of the PMA, the Presbyterian Mission Agency, who has been slow to reform. The PMA testified at the hearings asking for one more year to present a plan but that was denied. It will be interesting to see what happens in Plenary, when the full GA meets to vote on issues. This will be by far the most contentious issue.
The Middle East Committee looked at overtures related to the crises in Syria, Gaza and the on going Israel-Palestine issue. Overtures on Syria and Gaza passed overwhelmingly. The committee also worked to moderate several inflammatory overtures that would have raised passions between Jews and Palestinians in Israel-Palestine. It also worked to craft overtures that were more balanced in addressing dialogue between Jews and Christians in the US. Many of the overtures dealing with Israel-Palestine and the Jewish community, were very slanted against Israel and the Jewish community, so I see it as a good sign that the committee removed the offensive language of those overtures.
I will have a more thorough update later this week, but that is where we are.