I just returned from Pittsburgh, PA from shooting the Presbyterian Church’s 220th General Assembly – the biennial national meeting of the denomination. Several thousand people found themselves at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, while still-thousands more awaited news of some controversial changes coming before the commissioners – the possible changing of the denomination’s definition of marriage being the most-awaited decision.
This was my first time shooting the event, but not my first time in attendance. A trip to the Assembly held in Birmingham, AL gave me some idea of the kinds of events that I would be documenting. This was probably the best asset that I brought along with me. While the location for this event changes each session, the traditions and events remain largely intact with only subtle changes. Working alongside long-time GA photographer Danny Bolin, we both worked approximately 18 hours days for eight days straight, moving from one event to another. With little time for editing, we covered most gatherings and every plenary meeting.
While the outcome of the Assembly’s voting retained many status-quo positions for the denomination, people advocating for various changes, as well as those opposed to them, left the city with plans for returning to the fight in two years when the Assembly convenes in Detroit, MI.
The politics of the denominational church have fascinated me ever since I can remember. The idea that two (or more) groups of people can hold that God wants opposite outcomes for the same argument is a fascinating process to watch, and photograph. The journey of keeping a historical denomination relevant to modern concerns is one that I am excited to document, however slow it may be!