What is PC-biz?
“PC-biz” is the name for the electronic system that will be used at the 220th General Assembly (2012) in Pittsburgh, PA this summer. It is the primary way that commissioners and advisory delegates will access (read and follow) assembly business. It will also be the means by which all others (staff, observers, press, etc.) will have access to read and follow assembly business – whether onsite in Pittsburgh or from their office or home through the Internet.
Some reports to the 220th GA
- GA Nominating Committee
- GA Comm. On Interfaith and Ecumenical Relations
- Stated Clerk Nomination Committee
- Growing the Church Deep and Wide
- Agency Reviews of PILP and Presbyterian Publishing
The General Assembly is the council of the whole church (Book of Oder G-3.0501) and deals with a complex array of business brought to it by the church. There are essentially four sources of business coming to the assembly:
- Reports (some with recommendations) from the various committees and ministries of the General Assembly Mission Council, the Office of the General Assembly, and the other four agencies of the PC(U.S.A.) Some of these reports relate directly to the work of the assembly, such as the nominating committee and the committee to review assembly permanent committees. Some of these reports carry recommendations for further action or ask the assembly to initiate some new program. Each comes from a board or committee of volunteers, working faithfully to fulfill their assigned responsibilities.
- Overtures from the synods and presbyteries. The councils of the church use overtures to bring recommendations and matters of concern to the whole church. The overtures may ask the assembly to take a particular stance, initiate (or eliminate) a program or change the constitution. When two councils send essentially the same overture, the second council’s overture is considered a “concurrence” of the original and allows for the rationale of the second overture to be added to the first. A current list of overtures to the 220th GA can be found on PC-biz (PC-biz.org under the resources tab as “2012 Overture Listing.”)
- Each commissioner is allowed (with the signature of one other commissioner) to submit a Commissioners’ Resolution during the first 24 hours of the assembly. Because this is essentially new business, and the greater church has not had time to reflect on the commissioners’ idea, there are limits to what can be included in a commissioners’ resolution. More information about offering a commissioners’ resolution can be found in the Standing Rules A.8 in PC-Biz(PDF).
- Business that is referred to this assembly from past assemblies. Each assembly has proposals which it refers to special committees or tasks forces for further study with instructions that their report come to the next assembly. Some of the most important work of the assembly comes in the form of these referrals which allow for careful, long-term consideration of an issue first by the special committee, then (reading their report) by the whole church in the 120 days before the assembly, and finally by the receiving assembly.
Some referrals to
the 220th GA
- Committee to Review Biennial Assemblies
- Commission On Mid Councils
- Heidelberg Catechism Task Force
- The Church in the 21st Century Special Committee
While the General Assembly is empowered to make authoritative interpretations of the Book of Order, it provides for the election of an Advisory Committee on the Constitution whose work is to give counsel and advice to the assembly as it deliberates on constitutional issues. Their advice will be attached to each appropriate item of business.
An ever-present concern whenever the assembly considers business, is the financial cost of their decisions. For this reason, the assembly attaches to each item of business a financial implication report. With this, the commissioners and advisory delegates will have real data about the potential impact on the mission budget or per capita with every decision they make.
Finally, any discussion of the business before an assembly should mention general assembly committees. Before any item is considered by the whole assembly, it is first presented, discussed and voted upon by an assembly committee of commissioners and advisory delegates. They advise the assembly of their vote and make recommendations to their fellow commissioners on how the whole assembly might act.
Many commissioners and advisory delegates report that their committee experiences are one of the highlights of the assembly. Assignment to an assembly committee is a blind procedure which takes into account geographic diversity and maintains a balance of teaching and ruling elders, but does not identify individuals during the assignment process. In order to maintain smaller working groups, the 220th assembly is projecting to appoint 20 assembly committees.
Stated Clerk Elections
Members of the Stated Clerk Nominations Committee
- Moderator Dennis Hughes
- Reid Beveridge
- Terry Epling
(St. Louis, Mo.)
- Melissa Kirkpatrick
- Dan Krebill
- Eileen W. Lindner
- Matthew Schramm
(Bay City, Mich.)
- Vincent Thomas
- Judith Wellington
Each council of the church has a stated clerk whose responsibility is to record the transactions of the council and keep the rolls of membership and attendance (Book of Order G-3.0104). In addition, the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly is the continuing ecclesial officer of the assembly and is responsible for all matters related to the sessions of the assembly. The Stated Clerk serves a four-year term and the current term ends at the 220th General Assembly.
In 2010, the 219th General Assembly elected a Stated Clerk Nomination Committee as outlined in the Standing Rules of the General Assembly (see Standing Rule H.2.b. on PC-biz(PDF)). This spring, they will conduct interviews of those who make application and announce their choice of a nominee on May 1, 2012.
If someone wishes to stand as an alternative to the nominee of the Stated Clerk Nomination Committee, they must announce their intentions within 15 days of the announcement.
Before the assembly, the Office of the General Assembly will produce an electronic packet providing information about each person who has announced their intention of standing for stated clerk. The booklet will be available on the resource tab for PC-biz.
On Sunday afternoon (July 1, 2012) the 220th General Assembly will gather in plenary to formally hear the report of the Stated Clerk Nomination Committee. If no one else has announced their intention to stand for Stated Clerk, after remarks by the candidate and a period for questions to the committee and the candidate, the election will proceed immediately. If there are alternative candidates, their names will be announced and the election will be postponed until the first item of business on Friday.
Current candidates for Moderator of the 220th GA
- Robert Austell, Charlotte, NC
- Randy Branson, Graham, TX
- Susan Krummel, Peoria, IL
- Neal Presa, Middlesex, NJ
Each council of the church has a moderator possessing “the authority necessary for preserving order and for conducing efficiently the business of the body” (Book of Order G-3.0104). The Moderator of the General Assembly is an ecclesiastical officer of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who serves between assemblies as an ambassador of the church and of the unity of the Spirit.
One of the first orders of business of any general assembly is the election of their moderator who will preside over that assembly and any subsequent called assemblies until their successor is elected. Each person nominated to serve as Moderator must be a commissioner to the assembly.
Ordinarily, 15 days before the assembly, the Office of the General Assembly will produce an electronic packet providing information about each person who has announced their intention of standing for moderator. The booklet will be available on the resource tab for PC-biz.
At the assembly, commissioners and advisory delegates will be given the opportunity to meet each candidate informally before the Sunday evening election process. When the assembly convenes for the elections, there will be a nominating speech, followed by a speech by the candidates and finally an opportunity for the candidates to respond to questions from the commissioners and advisory delegates.
When there is more than one candidate, votes are taken by electronic ballot. It takes a majority of votes cast to elect the moderator. When no one has a majority, the Stated Clerk announces the results and another vote is taken.
The moderator is installed immediately after the election and begins the ministry of moderator at the conclusion of the installation.
More information about the moderatorial election process can be found in the Standing Rules H.1.b. (on PC-biz(PDF).