I arrived in Detroit early today, on a nice direct flight from Bloomington. Was in the city by 10:30, and started my general assembly experience by checking in, seeing some friends, and starting to get the lay of the land. Had a nice lunch in Greektown with some commissioners from home, then treated myself to a couple hours at the Detroit Institute of the Arts. No, they have not sold the art, and I pray they never have to. It is a great museum, not quite the Art Institute of Chicago, but close. I was excited to see Van Gogh, George Caleb Bingham, and even a Roy Lichtenstein!
In getting to DIA, I took a cab, as it is about 3 miles north of downtown. (I think it is 3 miles). Detroit is the motor city, yet strangely, there are not a lot of cabs, and certainly not much mass transit. When I left, I was a bit concerned I’d struggle to get a cab back to the RenCenter. I lucked out, and after about 10 minutes flagged down a cab. The ride back was eye-opening. On one side of the street there were new condos. On the other side, there were acres and acres of vacant lots, and abandoned buildings. See, e.g., this photo from the Washington Post, from last Sunday. It wasn’t quite as post-apocalytic, as some of the photos I have seen, but it told me the tale of a city in distress, but trying to find a new resurgence.
After spending some time visiting with some friends in the exhibit hall, I got some important information from Gradye Parsons, the Stated Clerk of the church (which is Presby Talk for the chief administrator of the Church’s offices in Louisville, and who in effect is the executive director for the Church in between General Assemblies), about what I had to do to submit a commissioner’s resolution tomorrow. YES! I went straight to the top! And why not? 🙂 I wrote my resolution (which I will talk about in tomorrow’s blog post) and have five additional co-signers from 3 additional presbyteries, but I actually have to have real signatures on it. So, that is tomorrow morning’s task.
Tonight, I spent 90 minutes in a strategy session with a group of people I have chosen to align myself on some key issues coming this week. It was a very positive and really quite valuable experience. People shared stories, and we talked about approaches to issues. I know I am being vague right now, but this will become clear in my next post.
It is now 9:38pm, and after not a lot of sleep last night, and a long day, I am pretty tired. So no real major insights. Tomorrow morning I go to a breakfast to listen to speakers on Middle East peacemaking issues, then there are informal roundtable discussions on several issues coming before GA. At 11, we have Opening Worship, and then the first two plenary sessions occur in the afternoon and evening. The main task, beyond orienting commissioners, is the election of a moderator. I am very hopeful that a man named John Wilkinson wins the election tomorrow night. I was quite impressed by his candidacy as presented in various newsletters and interviews. The Church needs a strong moderator for the work to come this week, and I think he would be effective. We will see what happens.
Signing off, from Detroit. Day 1. Peace out.