Saturday, July 3, 2010

Habemus Mamam #GA219

When the Catholic council of superarchbishops or whatever it is gathers to choose a new pope, they sequester themselves in a room and send up a plume of white smoke when they come to a choice, and the word goes out: habemus papam! we have a pope! Presbyterians do much the same, minus the secrecy, plus electronic voting machines which do a little better than Florida's (but you have to do it slowly so the elderly get their votes in - the 8-second timer didn't go over so hot), plus about 3,000 more folks present, and tweets instead of white smoke, and, well, it's a she, so... habemus mamam?

The Moderator of the 219th PC(USA) General Assembly (like pope for two years, minus the discretionary power, fancy garb, and infallibility) will be Cindy Bolbach, a lawyer, elder, and co-moderator of the New Form of Government (n-fog) taskforce.

The election was quite a deal. There were SIX candidates. SIX. Each was presented by a 5-minute speech, and spoke in person for 5 minutes. Some chose to tell stories, some to preach, some to share songs, poems, jokes... and some to lecture on their Theories of Everything (i do believe the phrase epistemological parochialism was used). I timed that, which was easy work, but the hard part was NOT to get to exercise that timer during the open debate & questions (90 long minutes). Cindy might have won because she was concise and didn't go on pastoral tangents, OR maybe because of her dry humor - when asked "what's at stake for the church if you are not elected moderator?" she kicked off her reply with "total chaos."

Our electoral process is a bit unique. We vote and re-vote until someone appears with a clear majority. Standing orders are not to drop anyone from the race (although if it had gone on longer it appears the assembly would have been ready with a 2/3 vote to overrule that procedure). The first round of votes had Cindy slightly ahead (near 30%) but all the other candidates were evenly matched. The Ecumenical Advisory Delegates' first advisory vote was split exactly evenly -- the six of them gave one vote per candidate. As voting went on (there were 4 rounds) she began to gain ground, as other votes shifted around to second choices -- or perhaps as the Spirit moved. We did ask for that to happen, didn't we? And we trust that it did.

cross-posting at Patheos


  1. Cindy is SO the right person for the denomination right now. I was sorry to have missed the Q&A part - I got to watch her practice with the Presbytery and she's just so smart. I'm a big fan of her as a person, and even bigger fan of her leadership.

  2. Thanks for the scoop, Talitha. Sounds like good news!