“Abounding in Hope” is a great idea, especially for those of us who are new to General Assembly, and I’m grateful to Wendy Bailey for putting it together. This is my first PCUSA General Assembly, and I’m serving as a MAD (Missionary Advisory Delegate). I’m a 37-year old teaching elder serving in Taiwan with PCUSA. I teach a mix of courses (mission, religions, ecumenics, and a mix of practical theology) at Taiwan Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian seminary in Taipei. We’re in the middle of a four-year term and knew we’d be able to come home this summer, so I put my name in and PCUSA World Mission picked me as a MAD. I’ve been assigned to the peacemaking and international issues committee, which is just about perfect.
I’m an adopted child of New Jersey. My parents moved there when I was eighteen, and I did seminary and PhD and then taught in NJ for two years before coming to Taiwan. I’m a member of New Brunswick Presbytery since 2007. I’ve preached or taught in about a third of the churches in the presbytery and really value the community it has given me. Emily, my wife, is a ruling elder who was ordained at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Trenton. I was a parish associate there, and was youth director at Grace Presbyterian Taiwanese-American Church.
I’ve been prepping by learning the technology and as much of the language of GA as I can. I watched some of the GA two years ago online. I read the Presbyterian Outlook and a mix of blogs. I read recently that while regular attendees often feel stressed out and anxious about the meetings, most of the new participants (i.e. most of us) really enjoy GA and feel encouraged by it.
Here’s a list of ten things I’m excited about, in no particular order:
1. I visited Detroit Presbytery in 2012 for its annual mission challenge, and last time I saw three of its churches: The Taiwanese Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor, Westminster, and Grosse Pointe Memorial. I grew up in Toledo, about an hour away, and started studying Chinese at University of Michigan in 1995. I’m excited about Detroit as the site for this year’s GA.
2. I’m getting to see representatives from several supporting churches. There’s a YAD from one church and the co-pastors of another church.
3. I get to connect to New Jersey folk, who I haven’t seen in a while and won’t have much time with this on this short summer trip to the US.
4. Three members of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan are coming as visitors to this General Assembly.
5. As the graduate of a Presbyterian college (Wooster) and seminary (Princeton) I’m looking forward to seeing classmates.
6. I’m going to visit some groups I’ve known before. I signed up for a lunch by the Presbyterian Historical Society and the National Asian Presbyterian Council.
7. I’ve missed preaching and liturgy that is familiar, in my own language, and reflects the theology I love.
8. This is a chance to connect to World Mission people. I’m rooming with another MAD and will see a friend who was in the same orientation in 2009 and who I keep up with via email. Those of us who serve in PCUSA world mission don’t get a lot of chances to connect across the miles, so this is very welcome.
9. I enjoy Presbyterian geekiness. I was parliamentarian of student government for a semester in college. I’m not great on my feet, but really admire the back-and-forth, discussion, and debate that marks the Presbyterian system. In the US I often thought that we overstated the wonders of our system, but living abroad I’ve really missed the clarity, order, and process of PCUSA councils.
10. I expect to be surprised. The list above is things I’m pretty sure I’ll see, but I also imagine there will be a lot that is unexpected.
I think it will be a good, albeit super intense week. Whenever we’re home, we always feel like there’s never enough time to connect to people, so I’m pretty excited about the chance to see so many people who cut across so many of the institutions I love. I’ll relate more later and hope to include short posts on the election of a moderator, the work of our committee, and hot topic issues for the GA as a whole.
For more bio, here’s our page at PCUSA