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“Nothing will be impossible with God.” —Luke 1:37

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Hydrogen, oxygen, consensus and budgets at the Business Meeting

By Yvonne Hileman

“Imagine that the three persons in one God want to build a river of hope. They study the periodic table, consult legal counsel . . . . Finally, Father and Son agree that hydrogen is the way to build a river of hope. The Holy Spirit is not convinced. “It’s gotta be oxygen,” the Spirit says.

This is the conundrum that Gusti Newquist, parliamentarian for the Churchwide Business Meeting, presented to practice consensus-building skills among the voting representatives. A lively discussion ensued, when a representative from Synod of the Northeast asked if the two—hydrogen and oxygen—might be combined. There was a question from the floor regarding financial implications, a request for clarity on the science and a suggestion to pray about the issue. One representative proposed testing the combination for a period of years. Another observed that creation was finished in seven days, suggesting the testing period should be reduced to three days. Finally, the fruitful and inclusive discussion led to consensus. Two hydrogen atoms are to be combined with one oxygen atom (since H represents hope and oxygen is life-giving). The group will place the elements on a rock bed, then pray for lightning (free electricity) to bond the elements, thus eliminating the financial implications.

In this way, voting representatives prepared to use the consensus model of decision-making for the business. That business included two resolutions from both the Antiracism Committee and the Leadership Enhancement Committee.

But first, opening devotions, approval of 2009 minutes, reports and introduction of guests, Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons and new PC(USA) Moderator Neal Presa. Gradye said, “We do big things at GA, but even we can’t bring together hydrogen and oxygen!”

Neal said the recent General Assembly shows that we are a divided church. He praised Presbyterian Women for wanting to hold the church together, saying we are like a family that has messy conversations, entering a period that will require faithful responses. He said our top priority is to talk about how we can live in community despite differences. “God keeps us together,” he said.

Presbyterian Women’s voting representatives approved two resolutions in afternoon business. They reaffirmed PW’s commitment to building an inclusive, caring community of women and agreed to expand the Sisters Stand and Walk Together initiative of PW. Learn more about these resolutions in the Business Book.

The Funds Development Committee explained the new funds development initiatives, including Women Moving Millions. And the order of the day, the proposed budget for the 2012–2015 triennium, was voted on a day early—and approved!

The Business Meeting continued on Friday, July 20, with the election of leaders and voting on additional resolutions.

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