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The fruit of justice will be peace

General Assembly and the shaping of our witness

by the Rev. Philip Woods, Mission Crossroads | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Salt Lake City, Utah, is the site of the 226th General Assembly, which begins next month. (iStock photo)

Next month, we will be gathered again in General Assembly, this time in Salt Lake City, discerning, according to our ecclesiology, the leading of the Spirit for our times as we consider how we organize our life and witness as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

As part of that, we will consider many overtures (proposals) from presbyteries putting forward issues and concerns that they believe the Church should be speaking out on or acting on today. Much of our work in World Mission is shaped by the decisions General Assembly takes on these overtures.

At the 225th General Assembly in 2022 (General Assemblies are held every two years), the Assembly encouraged us to stand with and advocate for our global partners in situations of conflict; recognized that Palestinians live under a system of apartheid and called upon us “to seek appropriate ways to bring an end to Israeli apartheid”; and made a number of recommendations on our support for the Democratic Republic of Congo, supporting human rights in the Philippines, responding to the human needs of those affected by violence in Cameroon, responding to the situation of depleted uranium in Iraq, ending the siege in Gaza, responding to the needs of the people of Syria, advocating for a Korea Peace Treaty, expanding our engagement with Eastern Europe, promoting peace in Ethiopia and denouncing the Russian military invasion of Ukraine. General Assembly also directed us to explore a “global covenant” to facilitate ecumenical cooperation with global partners who are ministering alongside us in the U.S. with their diaspora communities here, made a number of recommendations on the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, and called upon us to integrate concerns about and
responses to climate change in our global relations.

This is a substantial agenda, which we have faithfully followed and will be reporting on at this Assembly, having woven it into our routine work of journeying with partners across the world, much of which is reflective of these concerns. Listed like this, they remind us how widespread and deep are the troubles of this world, and how we need to be showing up for our neighbors as Matthew 25, in its telling of the judgment of the nations, shows us.

It also speaks eloquently to the theme of this issue of Mission Crossroads. With more justice in this world, we can also discover peace, and with peace we can all flourish.

At the time of writing, it is too early to know exactly what issues will come up at this year’s General Assembly. For sure, though, there are plenty that deserve our attention at this time.
We are ready to respond as part of our commitment to stand in solidarity with our partners as we journey with them and they with us, and as they share in our concerns about life here in the U.S., which is a whole other story that General Assembly will no doubt also be speaking to.

Follow along for the latest in GA news. To subscribe to “On the Road to GA,” click here.

The Rev. Philip Woods is Presbyterian World Mission’s associate director of global strategy and program.

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