Tag Archives: Office of the General Assembly

Farewell to the Matrix

MatrixTransition is the nature of life. For individuals, families, communities, nations, the world, change happens.

Our family is no different. We have passed through many changes through the years.

This year has brought an acceleration of change. Eric graduated from seminary as did his fiancé, Essie. They remained engaged for about five days after their graduation and then, in a wonderful celebration, they became Eric and Essie Koenig-Reinke. And then they moved to Michigan for jobs with First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor.

Tricia received a new job in Louisville with the Office of the General Assembly. I received a new job in New York with the Presbytery of New York City.

Sean and grandpuppy Henrik have been the eye of calm in the midst of all the changes.

This weekend, we have gathered in Cleveland Heights for Eric’s ordination as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It will take place at Noble Road Presbyterian Church where Eric grew up and where he remains a member, until his ordination.

We all stayed in the house on Navahoe Road that Tricia and I rented in 1985 when we came to Noble Road. Tricia has stayed in the house ever since, which we finally came to own a couple years ago. This may be the last time we all stay together here, although thanks to a dear family friend, Renee Boykin, we will continue to own the house. Renee will rent.

Another marker of this time of transition came when Eric pulled into the driveway on Friday night driving a Toyota Matrix. It had been my car, purchased in 2004, and it is my favorite of all the cars I have owned or co-owned.

Now it has Michigan plates and belongs to Eric. Of course he has been driving it since I first moved to New York in 2010. But the title remained in my name and Tricia and I paid the insurance bill. And it still felt like mine.

No longer. Eric transferred the title a while back, put on the Michigan plates and started paying for the insurance. The Matrix is his.

An era ends. A new one begins.

Farewell, Matrix.

See you along the Trail.

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When incivility becomes the norm

by J. Herbert Nelson, II | Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) General Assembly

This statement is a response to the violence on America’s streets after the election of Mr. Donald Trump as President–Elect of the United States of America. It was originally posted by the Presbyterian News Service

Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson

LOUISVILLE – I read several post-election statements and heard news accounts of violence, riots, and protests while in Central America visiting Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission partners. The news images were shocking to both our partners and me. We struggled to understand the results of the election, particularly given Mr. Trump’s stance on immigration, which was the theme of my visit. However, I was not as startled as my Central American friends. Serving as director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., for six years prior to becoming Stated Clerk prepared me to understand the outcomes we face in electoral politics. Although I have shared parts of this writing before with congregations and audiences, there seemed to always be a sense of skepticism among the hearers. I proclaim the message once again, because the apparent shock for many has left people raising the question, “What happened?”

I wish to affirm in this moment that many in our congregations and communities hold legitimate fear about their safety and the protection of their human rights. We hold close our Muslim, Hispanic, African American, immigrant, and LGBTQ neighbors, and those from other marginalized groups. We hold close the women who give us life and the poor for whom daily bread is not promised. The rash of hateful harassment [1] reported in the wake of the election insists upon the urgency of the call to be one who “… executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut. 10:18–20, NRSV).

This writing is not a denial of the results of the election. President-Elect Trump is our newly elected leader. However, it is my hope that the post-election anger, pain, and frustration demonstrated on the streets will lay the foundation for a transformed political system in the years to come. Through coalition building and community organizing, we have an opportunity to create a vision of shared prosperity, safety, dignity, and justice that is truly inclusive and compelling to a broad base.

I insist, though, that no matter how robust the infusion of energy into the struggle for justice, it will never be worth the pain, suffering, and yes, death, which will be wrought by the promised policies of the incoming administration. My integrity as a spiritual leader commands me to face the reality that some of our communities are under grave threat. In my recent travels to El Salvador, I spoke with many who expressed fear for their family members’ safety in the U.S.; that the violence they fled El Salvador to escape would be brought upon them tenfold if they were deported back to their country of origin. People with preexisting conditions are troubled over what a sudden loss of healthcare would do to their wellbeing. Same-gender parents are rushing to finish their adoptions and secure their rights as a family. Survivors of sexual assault are contending with a culture that would elect to our highest office a known abuser. In this dark night, the doors of the Church are open as refuge, resource, and organizing home.

As Christians, we cannot accept a nation that normalizes violence, exclusion, and racism in our political rhetoric and public policy. We know God has called us to co-create a world where a dignified life is available to all, and anything less offers no suitable worship. In the coming months and years, “… From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded” (Lk. 12:48 NRSV). We will be asked to open our church basements to late-night meetings, our sanctuaries to provide Sanctuary to those facing deportation, and to intervene in public harassment.

Just as the doors of the Church are open, so too are the doors to the movement for justice. We invite you to join us in our steadfast commitment to stand with the marginalized and our humble desire to contribute to strategy and vision that will help create the kingdom of God.

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