By the time members of the 220th General Assembly Board of Pensions, Presbyterian Foundation and Presbyterian Publishing Corporation Committee finished work on Monday (July 2), they had addressed overtures ranging from a new hymnal to relief of conscience.

In a unanimous vote that ended with a standing ovation, the committee approved an overture commending a new hymnal—“Glory to God”—to the denomination. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s first new hymnal since 1990 features more than 850 songs and will be available in the fall of 2013. A sampler and full selection list will be mailed to each PC(USA) congregation after the Assembly. 

The committee disapproved an overture calling the Board of Pensions (BOP) to provide a medical plan that will not pay for abortions except to save the life of the woman. With a vote of 45-5-1, the committee followed advice from the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns and the BOP. Those groups cited the BOP’s current Relief of Conscience plan as sufficient.

The committee also disapproved an overture calling for relief of conscience for installed teaching elders who disagree with the PC(USA)’s benefits plan, specifically provisions for the same-gender domestic partners of plan members. The overture proposed allowing those teaching elders to seek a third-party provider. In a comment with the disapproval, the committee cited the BOP’s work in the past year in communicating to plan members opportunities to voice their objections.

In a vote of 42-6-2, the committee approved an overture calling for the BOP to discuss a shared benefits plan with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians and other possible partners. If approved in plenary, the BOP will report its findings to the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly within one year for the purpose of possible actions by the 221st General Assembly (2014).

In other business:

  • The committee approved an overture urging the BOP to consider adding partial benefits for plan members who are partially disabled.
  • The committee disapproved an overture calling the BOP to switch mental health care providers from CIGNA to a provider with more locations.
  • Marc Lewis was reelected to a second, four-year term as president and publisher of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC).
  • The committee approved a report from the GA Committee on Review of the PPC.