NEW YORK – The 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) doesn’t convene  in Minneapolis until July 3, 2010. While this may seem a long way off, ask anyone who has ever put together a large gathering — religious or secular — and Opening Day sometimes seems a mere 10 minutes away.

Along with national level planning, there is also General Assembly planning at the local level. This planning includes the development and submission of overtures to the General Assembly.

Each Assembly, dozens of presbyteries submit overtures on a wide variety of issues and concerns as well as proposed amendments to the PC(USA) Constitution.

Most Americans know how our Federal laws are made: a need for a law becomes apparent to a group of citizens who makes their local Representative or Senator aware of this need. The legislator then drafts a Bill and introduces it in the House or Senate, which assign it to the appropriate committee. If the Bill survives in committee, and receives a majority of “yes” votes in both the House and Senate, it moves down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House for the President’s signature ... a process inspired by the founding fathers’ knowledge of Presbyterian polity.

Most Presbyterians are less familiar with how an idea generated by an individual, session or presbytery makes its way through the Presbyterian legislative system to become law or policy for the PC(USA).

And so the Presbyterian News Service announces Project Overture.

Through a series of upcoming articles, PNS will track a selected overture from inception in a local governing body (session or presbytery) to action on the floor of next summer’s 219th General Assembly in Minneapolis.

“We hope this series will be a ‘Presbyterians 101’-type teaching and learning tool that will have value for all Presbyterians, from the youngest Sunday Schoolers to the most veteran of veteran elders and ministers,” said PNS Coordinator Jerry Van Marter.

The overture to be tracked has not been selected as yet.

If your session or presbytery is developing an overture to the next General Assembly and you would like it to be considered as the focus of Project Overture, send a brief overview via e-mail with “Project Overture” on the subject line.