In Spirit and Truth seeks to encourage discussion and deeper consideration of representation issues in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It is hoped entries will prompt reflection and dialogue on aspects of expanding representation and supporting full participation in the PCUSA, especially at the assembly and mid council levels.
This blog will occasionally feature content written by one of the fifteen members of the General Assembly Committee on Representation, who are teaching and ruling elders from across the country, as well as links and articles of particular interest. 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 sister committees on representation at lower councils throughout the church.
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. or the General Assembly Committee on Representation.
Author/Facilitator Molly Casteel is an Assistant Stated Clerk and the Coordinator for Representation, Inclusiveness and Ruling Elder Training in the Office of the General Assembly. 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.
Have you ever wondered what participation looks like in real time at General Assembly? Are you attending GA221 in Detroit? Do you enjoy seeing the church do its work in committee?
We are recruiting observers of committee business during the 221st General Assembly (2014). We've learned that we need a full diversity and representation in the observers - everyone sees and hears the action before them a little differently. The more observers, the better picture we get of what's happening in participation.
It is said that a group working in committee is like making sausage. We are looking for folks who will describe the machines, actions, ingredients, and who is operating that machinery. We are not assessing the decisions themselves. We are not tracking the arguments made. We are not tasting the sausage to test its flavor.
This year will be the third time we've used process observation in assembly committees to look at processes used and assess any affects on participation (looking at committee member's roles and demographic identity categories as claimed in registration). Representation at GA - who comes to GA as a participant is determined by presbyteries, seminaries and ecumenical partners. How they are able to participate in deliberation, discernment, decisions and recommendations for actions is determined by processes in committee. We are looking for patterns of participation so that we can advise the leaders of future assemblies about what we find, and so we are aware of how we affect who participates by how we decide matters.
Committees will convene Sunday evening (June 15) and complete their business by the end of the day on Tuesday (June 17). We need observers from all ages and places, genders and races, to observe process and fill out forms to return by the end of the assembly (if you use the paper versions, or immediately submitted by Google Doc). Observers may move around, but a new form is needed for every committee and each new day.
Orientation sessions will be on Friday (June 13), Saturday (June 14), and Sunday (June 15) in the OGA Office are on the first floor of the COBO Center, Hall E.
The observer forms are available here by Google Doc.
Reminder: Orientation/Q&A sessions are available onsite in Detroit -- OGA Offices, Hall E (first floor) of COBO -- Friday, June 13; Saturday, June 14; and Sunday, June 15 (if needed). We will have the times posted soon.
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