In October, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Mid-Council Commission, recommended the elimination of synods as ecclesiastical units of the church’s governing structure by 2016.

Today (Feb. 2), the commission approved recommendations to the upcoming 220th General Assembly to implement that goal.

The proposal seeks appointment by the GA moderator of two special committees:

  • To come up with needed changes in the Manual of the General Assembly and the Book of Order to create regional administrative commissions “to facilitate churches and presbyteries to fulfill their missional objectives” and “to continue to facilitate and support the racial ethnic ministries that have historically been supported by the Synods.”
  • To come up with needed changes to create regional judicial commissions to replace current synod Permanent Judicial Commissions. 

The group ― appointed by authority of the 219th General Assembly (2010) ― is also recommending that another GA commission be appointed to deal with any realignment of existing presbyteries and synods between 2012 and 2016, when the proposed phase-out of synods is scheduled to be completed.

“This process is modeled after what we did in 2002 when we voted to go to biennial General Assemblies,” said General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons. “At that time we went down a whole bunch of rabbit holes to see what tweaks we had to make to implement biennials. We took that experience to help you [the commission] get where you want to go.”

Parsons said three key questions need to be answered in the creation of the proposed regional administrative and judicial commissions: 

  • How are they peopled?
  • How are they staffed?
  • How will they be paid for?