Special committee named to review biennial General Assemblies

Nine-member panel will report to 2012 GA

October 8, 2010


A nine-member special committee of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been appointed to review the denomination's practice of holding its national legislative assembly — the General Assembly — every two years.

The special committee was appointed by General Assembly Stated Clerk Grady Parsons and General Assembly Mission Council Executive Director Linda Valentine.

For 215 years, from 1789 through 2003, the PC(USA) General Assembly met annually. When the decision was made to meet biennially beginning in 2004, the Assembly ordered that the new practice be reviewed after the 2010 Assembly. The committee was mandated to include one representative from the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly, one representative from the General Assembly Mission Council, and three members who were commissioners to the 219th General Assembly (2010).

The Special Committee to Review Biennial General Assemblies will report to the 220th General Assembly, which will meet in Pittsburgh in the summer of 2012.

The members of the special committee:

  • The Rev. W. Glen Bell, Whitewater Valley Presbytery, Synod of Lincoln Trails;
  • The Rev. Theresa Cho, San Francisco Presbytery, Synod of the Pacific, Commissioner to the 210th General Assembly;
  • The Rev. Thomas Evans, Greater Atlanta Presbytery, Synod of the South Atlantic;
  • Mr. Glen Alberto Guenther, Kendall Presbytery, Synod of the Pacific, Young Adult Advisory Delegate to the 219th General Assembly (2010);
  • Mr. Marcus C. Lambright, Miami Valley Presbytery, Synod of the Covenant, Young Adult Advisory Delegate to the 219th General Assembly (2010);
  • Elder Kathy Lueckert, Seattle Presbytery, Synod of Alaska Northwest;
  • The Rev. Carol McDonald (moderator), Wabash Valley Presbytery, Synod of Lincoln Trails, member of the Committee of the Office of the General Assembly;
  • The Rev. Matthew Schramm, Lake Huron Presbytery, Synod of the Covenant, member of the General Assembly Mission Council: and
  • The Rev. David A. Van Dyke, Twin Cities Area Presbytery, Synod of Lakes and Prairies.
  1. How old are YADS these days???

    by james offrink

    August 6, 2013

  2. I was delegate to the 2002 assembly. I questioned it then and still do. Seems like it doubled or more the work beween assemblies and I wonder what was saved? I too question the number of YADs. True some are outstanding and do make contributions (not always listened to). But they are the exceptions. For others it is just a fun ? party at denomination expense. I am thinking of the pregnancies spawned and came out at the 2002 assembly (unofficially),

    by Rev. Iris Martin

    October 28, 2010

  3. Two of the nine spots on this committee are YADs. I am hard pressed to see or understand how they are equipped to discuss in depth the multivalent issues surrounding this. I am grateful for YAD input but frankly, the hubris from the YADs from this year's GA was truly saddening. I'm not painting them all with one stroke of the brush, but as a veteran pastor, I do not believe they have the spiritual, emotional, intellectual maturity to address the issues that are in front of the Church today; it's not because they are 'bad' or anything like that; rather, it's because adolescence runs into the mid-to-late twenties today and they are not psycho-socially-spiritually mature enough to make more than an opinion on such weighty matters as civil unions, nFOG, political/economic decisions relating to Palestine or the Board of Pensions, much less an educated argument biblically/theologically/politically regarding questions of ordination standards and whether or not the Church needs a new confession. Don't send me hate mail, please. I am all for bringing up new leaders from within our ranks; frankly, the Church is theirs to inherit when they are ready to take responsibility for it. The key word, however, is when they are 'ready' for it. Our beloved Church does not need adolescent decisions at a time when the Church is in desperate need of informed spiritually, intellectually, emotionally adult outcomes. Pax -

    by Patrick Wrisley

    October 27, 2010

  4. the problem with the current situation was that it made worse a financial problem that prompted the biennial assemblies. the ga for some reason increased the number of delegates and especially advisory delegates, people who now effectively determine the outcome of many issues voted on in committees. another reason for every two years was to give a cooling off period between assemblies with so many hot button items. that has really not worked, it only lengthened the debate times for the same issues. i think we'd do better to go to quadrienniel assemblies and reduce the advisory delegates by half. that would both save money and keep the hot button issues from dominating the air waves for the years between ga meetings. it works for the methodists, who claim to have as many committees as we do!!!!

    by john larson

    October 11, 2010

  5. Good! Perhaps the biennial assembly idea had to be attempted, but in my view it is a failure, no matter how efficient it may be, or how hard it is for the staff in Louisville to prepare for a General Assembly. The G.A. is the great coming together of a representative sampling of our denomination, and for most commissioners it is a truly significant event in their lives. By holding G.A. meetings less often, even if more folks are then invited to the biennial event, Presbyterians are deprived of a degree of representation, because, in the larger biennial assemblies, an individual commissioner just carries less weight, and has less opportunity to be heard, and to make a difference. The net result is that the G.A. becomes even more staff dependent, and the denomination becomes more of a top-down organization. These are not healthy results, and with our denomination as sick as it is, shrinking in size, resources, and effectiveness, pursuing non-healthy means of decision-making is simply foolish. We need to return to annual Assemblies, and as quickly as possible.

    by Stephen A. Moss, H.R.

    October 11, 2010