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Committee on Representation

History and Responsibilities

 

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was created in 1983 with the reunion of two denominations: the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (northern) and the Presbyterian Church in the United States (southern). Committees on Representation (CORs) emerged out of the agreements worked out before reunion and recorded the Articles of Agreement (found in Appendix B of Book of Order). CORswere created in all councils above session (presbytery, synod, general assembly). The new denomination made a strong commitment to the principles of full participation and inclusiveness to ensure effective representation in the decision making of the church. Article 8 of the Articles of Agreement not only committed the new church to the principles of full participation, inclusiveness, and fair representation in the decision making of the church, but also mandated the creation of committees of representation (CORs) at all governing bodies (now called councils) above the session.  The Book of Order adopted in 1983 had committees on representation primarily delineated in The Form of Government at G-9.0105 with the commitment to diversity at G-4.0403.  There were small adjustments made to those sections between 1983 and 2010, notably in 1992 to add “persons with disabilities.” The Form of Government was revised by the 219th General Assembly (2010), with two sections, the Foundations of Presbyterian Polity and the new Form of Government, becoming effective on July 10, 2011, after it was ratified by a majority vote of the presbyteries.  The new sections are F-1.0403 (diversity commitment) and G-3.0103 (committees on representation).

Assigned Responsibilities of GACOR

The General Assembly Committee on Representation (GACOR), advises, advocates, and consults with the General Assembly committees, boards, agencies, and ministry divisions to ensure that the principles of inclusiveness, participation and representation are implemented. These functions include providing resources and reviewing implementation plans and composition of and participation within any decision-making bodies. It advises the assembly with respect to its membership and that of its committees, boards, agencies, and other units to ensure fair and effective representation in the decision making of the church. The committee also advises the General Assembly and its entities with regard to the employment of personnel.  In accordance with this function, the committee has specific roles designated in the Churchwide Plan for Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity and is a necessary partner in the revision of this plan or any subsequent implementation plans.  The various functions are described in the Book of Order (G-3.0103):

Councils above the session shall establish by their own rule committees on representation to fulfill the following functions: to advise the council regarding the implementation of principles of unity and diversity, to advocate for diversity in leadership, and to consult with the council on the employment of personnel, in accordance with the principles of unity and diversity in F-1.0403.         

The specific means by which the GACOR does its work is detailed in its Manual of Operations and the council’s assigned tasks appear in the Manual of the General Assembly.

The General Assembly Committee on Representation reviews smaller councils’ committees on representation and provides assistance consistent with its functions in G-3.0103 and F-1.0403.

The principles of “Unity in Diversity” (F-1.0403) are in the Book of Order, Foundations of Presbyterian Polity:

“As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:27–29).

The unity of believers in Christ is reflected in the rich diversity of the Church’s membership.  In Christ, by the power of the Spirit, God unites persons through baptism regardless of race, ethnicity, age, sex, disability, geography, or theological conviction. There is therefore no place in the life of the Church for discrimination against any person. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shall guarantee full participation and representation in its worship, governance, and emerging life to all persons or groups within its membership.  No member shall be denied participation or representation for any reason other than those stated in this Constitution.

Connections with Other CORs

Mid Council Committees on Representations (CORs) labor in their councils (synods and presbyteries), share their data, and complement the work of the GACOR.  Together they develop workshops, seminars, and conferences on key issues relevant to their context and the constitutional functions.  Topics may include: anti-racism training, cultural proficiency, intersectionality, privilege and power analyses, and exploring the commitments to unity and diversity and its consequences. Critical to this work is council’s having a deep self-understanding of themselves and their context.  Relations within council CORs promote better understanding of the diverse cultures within the PC(USA).  The limited resources of the GACOR may equip other committees on representation (CORs), especially through webinars and video conferences.  The GACOR encourages CORs to: 

  • Study/Review the patterns of participation and inclusiveness on committees, boards, and agencies in your council. Wherever possible, COR should consult with racial/ethnic groups, women’s groups, persons with disabilities, younger persons, etc.  F-1.0403 outlines the required communities, if present in the council’s context, with which the council needs to connect.  These listed groups have historically been marginalized in the decision making processes of the church.   
  • Consult with bodies responsible for the nominating process in order to fulfill the function of “advocating for diversity in leadership” (G-3.0103).  CORs may advise on the affects slates of nominees may have on representation and participation.  They should connect with under-represented groups within the council and explore ways to address under-representation.  Recruiting nominees may sometimes be appropriate, though it should not become a central task for a COR.  Many councils have a COR member sit with the nominating committee/body as an advisor. 
  • Advise the synod or presbytery and its bodies on matters of diversity and inclusion. CORs should maintain open dialogue with representative bodies to help identify their need for training and support.

Partners in COR work

The GACOR partners with many constituencies.  The Articles of Agreement set out that committees on representation should remain in contact with designated groups in order to work effectively.  Among GACOR’s partners are:

Partner Organizations

Partner Ministries, Offices, and Committees

PCUSA Agencies and their Boards

Presbyteries and Synods

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