In Spirit and Truth is the blog of the General Assembly Committee on Representation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It will feature content written by the sixteen members of the committee, who are teaching and ruling elders from across the country, and our staff person in the Office of the General Assembly, as well as links and articles of particular interest. These blog entries are intended to prompt reflection and dialogue on aspects of expanding representation and supporting full participation in the PCUSA, especially at the assembly level. The ministries of advising, consulting, advocating, reviewing and recommending are vital to the life of the whole Body of Christ. Committees on Representation and/or their functions exists at all councils above session so from time to time we may highlight activities and insights from our sister committees on representation at smaller councils throughout the church.
Author Molly Casteel is an Assistant Stated Clerk and the Coordinator for Representation and Inclusiveness Services. She is a teaching elder (a.k.a. Minister of Word and Sacrament) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.
Five Verbs: PROMOTE, REVIEW, ADVISE, ADVOCATE, CONSULT
“The General Assembly Committee on Representation (GACOR) in its constitutional mandate, shall promote, review, advise, advocate, and consult with the General Assembly entities, committees, councils, and divisions in order to ensure that the principles of inclusiveness and diversity are implemented.” (GACOR Mission from GACOR Manual of Operations, bold print added)
Yes, according to our constitution, G-3.0103 Participation and Representation: ". . . Each council shall develop procedures and mechanisms for promoting and reviewing that body’s implementation of the church’s commitment to inclusiveness and representation. 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 the 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. A committee on representation should not be merged with another committee or made a subcommittee of another committee" (bold print added).
Seven Groups: Principles of unity and diversity?
Yes, according to F-1.0403 Unity in Diversity: ". . .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 convictions. 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" (bold print added).
Case Study: It began with an email.
In reviewing the minutes of the Synod I represent on GACOR, I learned that the Synod of Alaska-Northwest dissolved its Committee on Representation as of December 31, 2012. So, to promote our constitution, I emailed my Synod Stated Clerk and Moderator advising them that our Synod was out of compliance with our Constitution. In under an hour, I had a call from the Stated Clerk. In just over an hour, I had a call from the Moderator. Consultation ensued in conversations with both officers leading to the reestablishment of the Synod COR at its March, 2013 meeting. A visitor at this meeting, I was given privilege of the floor to advise the Synod commissioners about language in soon-to-be adopted Synod by-laws about the Committee on Representation. In addition, I advocated for diversity with the newly formed nominating committee, and advised it of names of people it might consider for PJC and COR membership – including people from a variety of races, ethnicities, ages, sexes, disabilities, geographic areas, and theological convictions. Byproducts of my visitor status included opportunity to review the Synod as it lives into its reduced function existence, to observe the deep commitment of commissioners and officers to diversity and inclusiveness, and to establish partnership relationships with my Synod commissioners and officers as together we promote the participation and representation of all peoples in the work of our Synod and its seven Presbyteries.
What are you giving up for Lent? That was the question. In fact, I will always remember a new friend's answer to that question. She proudly said, "Do you know what I’m giving up for Lent? I'm giving up celibacy," and before I could feel my ears turning red and my cheeks blushing she announced "I'm getting married!" The idea of giving something up for Lent may or may not be in our Presbyterian/Reformed ethos. We tend to say that our grace-oriented faith does not require our efforts to purify ourselves to please God. But ...
In the summer of 2011, a historical document of the PCUSA became quietly accessible again with its online publication.
The General Assembly Committee on Representation played a role in making that happen when it did. They were concerned about the ahistoricity of conversations around Presbyterian self-structures in light of the work of the Mid-Councils Commission in 2011.
For over one hundred years there were all-Black governing bodies (presbyteries and synods) in the Presbyterian Church. A history of these structures was written and adopted by the 205th General Assembly in 1993. This document provides a rich understanding of the diverse expressions ...
On January 24, 2013, Leon Panetta, Defense Secretary made an astounding announcement that will change the course of history for women in the military announcing the elimination of ground combat exclusion and suggesting a plan to move forward to eliminate all gender based barriers. The announcement, in my opinion, is a wake-up signal to the church and calls the church to also re-examine it's stance on women in ministry.
Ironically, this announcement came between the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday celebration and the beginning of Black History Month. What a more appropriate time to raise the issue considering the ...
As the horizon of human knowledge expands many traditions and words take on new meanings.
Initially, the Epiphany (gr. epiphaneia - "manifestation") was a festival that was celebrated twelve days after Christmas in order to remember the birth of our Lord, his baptism in the Jordan River and the manifestation of his glory in the celebrations of the wedding at Cana.
When in the fourth century, the Greek Church adopted the Roman date for celebrating Christmas ...
As a teaching elder commissioner to the 220th General Assembly in Pittsburgh, I had a big time “wow” moment during a PowerPoint presentation given in plenary, “A Snapshot of Presbyterians.” (1.2M) It was this shocking statistic: of the 688 GA Commissioners, ZERO were under age 25. ZERO.
So, how shall we increase participation of young adult commissioners at future general assemblies?
General Assembly did take action on this issue. The Review of Biennial Assemblies Committee’s item 04-01, Recommendation 5, (to create thirty-two young adult commissioners under age 36, 1 ruling elder and 1 teaching elder from each ...
Do you know someone who is called and might be interested in serving in one of these committees/task forces? Persons currently serving on a GA entity (board, permanent committee, special committee, etc.) are not eligible, nor are persons employed by GA entities (BOP, OGA, PILP, FDN, PPC, and PMA).
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Privilege, Power and Policy: The Church as Employer, the report of the Climate for Change Task Force to the 220th General Assembly (2012) and highlighted actions taken by the assembly.
The most recent social witness policy for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was adopted by the 217th General Assembly in 2006 Living Into the Body Of Christ may be found here.
In 2000, the church celebrated the passage of That All May Enter (Minutes, UPCUSA, 1977, Part I, pp. 99–108). That resolution may be found here.
In 2008 the 218th General Assembly adopted Comfort My People: A Policy Statement on Serious Mental Illness with Study Guide. That resource is found here ...