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.

The commission will hold its first meeting November 4-6, 2010, in Baltimore.

Members of the General Assembly Commission on Middle Governing Bodies:

The Reverend Tod Bolsinger (Los Ranchos Presbytery) is the chairperson of the commission. He serves as pastor and head of staff of the San Clemente Presbyterian Church in San Clemente, Calif. A graduate of and adjunct professor at Fuller Seminary, he is the author of It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian: How the Community of God Transforms Lives and Show Time: Living Down Hypocrisy by Living Out the Faith. He moderated the Odyssey Task Force in Los Ranchos Presbytery that developed a new mission design for the presbytery.

The Reverend José-Manuel Capella-Pratts (Presbiterio de San Juan) has been a pastor since 1996. He has also served as stated clerk of the Presbiterio de San Juan, and as a volunteer for several tasks at the presbytery, synod, and General Assembly levels. He is a guest instructor of Presbyterian polity and theology at the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico. Capella-Pratts was vice moderator of the New Form of Government Revision Committee of the 219th General Assembly (2010).

Elder Warren B. Cooper (Philadelphia Presbytery) was ordained in 1999 and has served at the presbytery, synod, and General Assembly levels for more than 35 years. He is a media and ministry professional, worship clinician, and creative logistics consultant.  Warren serves currently as executive producer and chief operating officer for Music Media Ministry, which is a Philadelphia-based production company focused on the manufacturing and trafficking of Healing Message Entertainment and the evolution of traditional Christian worship into the 21st century. 

The Reverend Karen E. Dimon (Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery) has been pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in North Syracuse, N.Y. since 2000. She has served as a synod and General Assembly staff member. She has also served in several capacities at the presbytery level, including moderator and member of the committee on ministry, and currently as chairperson of the transition team that has developed a new staffing plan and is envisioning new vision and purpose. Dimon is her presbytery’s representative, working with three other presbyteries in the Synod of the Northeast, to explore and develop a cooperative staffing and ministry model. She was a commissioner to the 219th General Assembly (2010), where she moderated the Middle East Peacemaking Committee.

Elder Miriam Dolin (San Francisco Presbytery) is currently serving as the director of mission and service at Mission Bay Community Church in San Francisco. She has been an active Presbyterian at the church, presbytery, and national levels, serving on several different task forces and planning teams. Dolin was a high school history teacher prior to working at Mission Bay.

The Reverend Lemuel Garcia-Arroyo (Salem Presbytery) is associate presbyter for Salem Presbytery, where he staffs the committee on ministry, committee on interfaith and ecumenical relations, and the Self-Development of People committee. He is also as a member of the Special Committee for Administrative Review in the Synod of Puerto Rico. Garcia-Arroyo has served as an elected member on various General Assembly committees, including the Advisory Committee to the office of Hispanic Congregational Support, the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns, the Committee on Ecumenical Relations, and the National Multicultural Network. Garcia Arroyo is a fourth-generation Presbyterian, originally from the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico.

The Reverend James Harper (Greater Atlanta Presbytery) is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Douglasville, Ga. He served previously as executive pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Houston, Texas, where he provided oversight to the ministry and mission of a large, complex church organization. He has served the denomination in a variety of capacities, including committees and task forces at the presbytery and synod levels, and as an elected member of the General Assembly’s Theology and Worship Unit.

Elder Robert Hay, Jr. (Greater Atlanta Presbytery) is the chief financial/operating officer for the Care and Counseling Center of Georgia. A member of St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Tucker, Ga., he has served on various committees in both the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta and the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley. Hay has also served many roles at the Montreat Conference Center, and most recently was a volunteer for the 219th General Assembly (2010).

The Reverend Liza Hendricks (Western Reserve Presbytery) is the general presbyter for Western Reserve Presbytery. She has served as a campus minister, a parish pastor, and a staff member for Chicago Presbytery. Active in the Urban Presbytery Network, she is a past moderator of the General Assembly’s Committee on Theological Education and also has experience on synod and presbytery committees.

Elder Viola Hickson-Lee (Mission Presbytery) currently serves as commissioned lay pastor for Faith/Fe Presbyterian Church, Lockhart, Texas. She has served as an elder and deacon over the past 26 years. She has also served in several capacities at the presbytery level, including being former moderator of New Hope Presbytery and current chairperson-elect for the Christian Education and Nurture Committee. Hickson-Lee has co-directed a Montreat youth conference and a Mo-Ranch multicultural youth conference. She was a commissioner to the 210th General Assembly (1998).

Elder Roger Lee (Seattle Presbytery) is a member of Woodland Park Presbyterian Church in Seattle. The immediate past moderator of the Synod of Alaska Northwest, he has served as a trustee for the Presbyterian Foundation. He has been active at all levels of the Presbyterian church and currently serves on Seattle Presbytery’s spiritual formation ministry team.

Elder Kelli Lowe (Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery) is a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Mo. She is an extension associate for the University of Missouri Extension in the area of youth development. She is the director of Westminster’s youth group and serves on the presbytery’s resource and equipping committee.

The Reverend Terry Newland (Sheppards and Lapsley Presbytery) is executive of the Synod of Living Waters. He has served as executive presbyter for the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley and as pastor of two Alabama congregations. He is a member of the Middle Governing Body Advisory Board for the General Assembly Mission Council and is a trustee for Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Newland has also served on a presbytery camp staff and worked in youth ministry and recreation.

The Reverend José Olagues (Grand Canyon Presbytery) presently serves as associate executive for congregational resourcing for Grand Canyon Presbytery. He also provides pastoral care to detainees at Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities. Olagues has provided staff services for the border ministries team of the Synod of the Southwest and was influential in establishing a covenant agreement between synods at the United States/Mexico border. Currently, he serves on the General Assembly Climate for Change Task Force.

Elder Barbara Ranta (Seattle Presbytery) is a member of First Presbyterian Church in Seattle. She will retire at the end of 2010 after 17 years of service as associate stated clerk for Seattle Presbytery. Ranta’s earlier service included being a church business manager and church treasurer. She has also served on the board of directors for Presbyterian Retirement Communities Northwest.

The Reverend Sam Roberson (Charlotte Presbytery) is general presbyter and stated clerk of Charlotte Presbytery. Prior to that, he served as general presbyter in Cincinnati Presbytery and in a variety of other governing body positions. He also has experience in providing pastoral leadership to two California congregations. Roberson has attended all but two General Assemblies over the past 22 years.

Elder David Seungil Rue (Sacramento Presbytery) is a member of Davis Community Church in Davis, Calif. Retired from the Cleveland Clinic, he now serves as clinical professor of child psychiatry at the University of California Davis School of Medicine. He serves Sacramento Presbytery as chairperson of council, having been the presbytery moderator a year earlier. Rue helped develop an English-speaking congregation within Korean Central Presbyterian Church in Cleveland.

Elder Jane D. Smith (Riverside Presbytery) is a member of First Presbyterian Church in San Bernardino, Calif. She has experience as a General Assembly commissioner and is serving currently as moderator of the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii. A retired school superintendent, Smith works as a consultant to local schools seeking to improve student achievement.

Elder William L. Stafford (Milwaukee Presbytery) is a member of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Milwaukee. He is an angel investor and consultant to early-stage and middle-market companies, providing counsel in the areas of strategy, valuation, and raising capital. Most recently he was president and chief executive officer of CRS Medical Diagnostics, Inc. Having been a church school teacher and served Milwaukee Presbytery in a variety of roles, Stafford is currently a commissioner to the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.

The Reverend Laura Stellmon (Utah Presbytery) is executive presbyter for Utah Presbytery. She has served as a pastor in Iowa, Michigan, and Utah, as well as stated clerk for Mackinac Presbytery. Stellmon has been trained as a Healthy Congregation facilitator.

The Reverend John Vest (Chicago Presbytery) serves as associate pastor for youth ministry at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. He has served on a number of presbytery committees and participated in a synod-sponsored new pastor’s group. Vest was a commissioner to the 219th General Assembly (2010).

Staffing the General Assembly Commission on Middle Governing Bodies are the Reverend Jill Hudson, coordinator for middle governing body relations (Office of the General Assembly and the General Assembly Mission Council); the Reverend Daniel Saperstein, executive presbyter for the Presbytery of Plains and Peaks; and Angela Lucear, senior administrative assistant (Office of the General Assembly).