Members named for General Assembly Mid Council Commission
15-member group will continue work begun by 219th GA commission
The Reverend Neal D. Presa, Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has announced the membership of the General Assembly Mid Council Commission.
Presa selected members of the administrative commission on authorization of the 220th General Assembly (2012). The selections were made in consultation with the Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly.
The assembly’s mandate to the commission grows out of assembly business item 05-12 and says, in part:
- By direction of the 220th General Assembly (2012), or upon a majority affirmative vote of the affected presbytery or presbyteries or a majority affirmative vote of the presbyteries in the affected synod or synods, the commission is authorized to act as the General Assembly to
- organize new synods and to divide, unite, or otherwise combine synods or portions of synods previously existing; and
- approve the organization, division, uniting, or combining of presbyteries or portions of presbyteries by synods.
In addition to the authorities granted as an administrative commission, this group will also have responsibilities as a task force to fulfill the following additional actions on Item 05-12:
- Further discuss and refine recommendations 1-4 of the Mid Council Commission report to this summer’s assembly and bring to the 221st General Assembly (2014) recommendations that consider the composition and organization of mid councils in ways that reinvigorate their capacity to support missional congregations, and advance the ecclesial nature and character of those presbyteries, within the unity of the church.
- Review the nature and function of the Presbyterian Mission Agency (formerly General Assembly Mission Council) and the Office of the General Assembly, specifically with respect to their relationship with and support of mid councils as they serve the vitality and mission of congregations in our changing context.
The assembly also commended to the church the narrative portion of the 2010 Mid Council Commission report to this summer’s assembly and asked that a study guide be developed for that purpose.
The commission is to report its findings and recommendations to the 221st General Assembly in 2014.
Upon naming the commission’s membership, Presa said, “I am grateful to God for the willingness of these sisters and brothers in Christ to serve at this time and in this significant way. Individually and collectively, they bring the breadth of diversity and wealth of experience and gifts that are present in the church as they discern the way forward for our mid councils, and the mid councils relationship with our national offices.”
The assembly determined that membership on the commission is to come from the following categories:
- Four commissioners to the 220th General Assembly
- Four members of the 219th General Assembly (2010) mid council commission
- Four members of the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly
- One member of the National Racial Ethnic Ministries Task Force
- One person to represent synod executive leadership
Presa added as an official observer to the commission a young adult advisory delegate to this summer’s General Assembly. As an official observer, this person will have full voice at the table.
Presa said, “I anticipate appointing more young adult advisory delegates to special committees in the coming weeks as either full voting members or as official observers.”
Members named to the General Assembly
Commission on Middle Governing Bodies
21-member commission given comprehensive mandate by 219th GA
Elder Cynthia Bolbach, Moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Reverend Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008), have announced the membership of the General Assembly Commission on Middle Governing Bodies.
Bolbach and Reyes-Chow selected the commission on authorization of the 219th General Assembly (2010), which encouraged them to make an “intentional effort for theological diversity.” The selections were also made in consultation with the General Assembly Nominating Committee.
The assembly’s mandate to the commission is comprehensive:
- Consult with sessions, presbyteries, synods, and the wider church on the mission and function of middle governing bodies. Such a process should include current diversity in the role and functions of middle governing bodies; demographics and financial realities that affect the role and function of synods and presbyteries; the role of each governing body in its oversight role — presbyteries of congregations, synods of presbyteries, and General Assembly of synods – both historically and in present experience; and relationships with General Assembly agencies in role and function.
- Develop models that reflect the roles of middle governing bodies in PC(USA) polity and the changing context of our witness in the United States and their relationships with other governing bodies.
The commission is to “prepare a report to the 220th General Assembly (2012) of its findings and any recommended Book of Order changes. Recommendation for future roles and responsibilities will also be made to the 220th General Assembly about changes in middle governing bodies that may best serve the PC(USA) in the 21st century.”
The commission is also to “implement, within the powers granted it, any decisions forwarded from the 219th General Assembly (2010) and approved by presbyteries regarding the form and function of middle governing bodies with the report to the 220th General Assembly (2012).”
The 219th General Assembly (2010) gave the commission the following authority to act as the General Assembly (upon a majority affirmative vote of the affected presbytery or presbyteries or a majority affirmative vote of the presbyteries in the affected synod or synods):
- “Organize new synods and divide, unite, or otherwise combine synods or portions of synods previously existing” (Book of Order, G-13.0103m);
- “Approve the organization, division, united, or combining of presbyteries or portions of presbyteries by synods” (G-13.0103n).
The commission will also supervise the Special Administrative Review Committee on Puerto Rico and act on any recommendations they may make within the powers given to the commission.
The actions of the commission shall require a two-thirds majority for approval.
21-member group also given power to supervise Puerto Rico reconciliation
The 219th General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to create a 21-member middle governing body commission with authority to act on the Assembly’s behalf in responding to realignment requests from synods and presbyteries. The vote was 566-104.
The commission, with authority to “act as the General Assembly,” is needed, said Cliff Lyda of Chicago Presbytery, moderator of the Assembly Committee on Middle Governing Body Issues, “because of rapid cultural shifts … that have created the need to make our structures more functional.”
In response to concerns that the commission might be able to act unilaterally to change synod and presbytery structures, the Assembly adopted just one amendment to the proposal from its Assembly Committee on Middle Governing Body Issues.
The amendment makes explicit that the commission can only act “upon a majority affirmative vote of the affected presbytery or presbyteries or a majority affirmative vote of the presbyteries in the affected synod or synods.”
The Assembly’s action also requires that all decisions of the commission must be approved by a two-thirds majority.
The commission will have the authority granted to the General Assembly in G-13.0103m and n “to organize new synods and to divide, unite or otherwise combine synods or portions of synods previously existing” and “to approve the organization, division, uniting or combining of presbyteries or portions of presbyteries by synods.”
Also assigned to the new commission is supervision of the work of the Assembly’s Special Committee on Administrative Review of the Synod of Boriquen in Puerto Rico and Its Constituent Presbyteries (SCARB).
The special committee, appointed by the 2008 Assembly, reported that the synod “is rife with power struggles among individuals, groups, and the middle governing bodies of the synod … that undermine the ability of the church in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to focus on Christ’s Great Commission…”
The Assembly voted to continue SCARB for two more years, expand it to include more members from Puerto Rico, and to be supervised by the middle governing body commission, which will be appointed by the General Assembly Moderator and immediate past Moderator.
Commissioner Gerardo Lopez-Viga of Presbiterio del Noroeste in Puerto Rico said, “At first we were somewhat upset with SCARB and its composition and were highly disappointed with its report.” But now, he continued, “seeking peace and justice in the church, we receive this recommendation with hope and compromise.”