Committee recommends teaching elders 'assume moral responsibility' of per capita
June 16, 2014
Teaching elders in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) would be asked to "assume the moral responsibility" of paying per capita if a recommendation of the Committee on General Assembly Procedures is adopted by the 221st General Assembly (2104).
The committee narrowly approved, by a 32-25 vote, the overture from the Presbytery of Albany.
During a public hearing on the proposal, Amalie Ash, executive presbyter of the Presbytery of Tropical Florida, supported the idea, saying that while the income would be a welcome addition, the encouragement to support per capita would be just as important.
But Teaching Elder Commissioner Cheryl Montgomery pointed out that the assessment of per capita is to the presbytery, not a tax or dues on individuals. “As a teaching elder, every time I write an unrestricted check to the church I support per capita. Let’s not go down this slippery slope,” she said.
The committee also spent considerable time considering an ethics policy for General Assembly commissioners and advisory delegates recommended by the Office of the General Assembly.
The discussion focused on a proposal that all commissioner and advisory delegates disclose “prior to accepting such an appointment, any matters and relationships that have the potential for giving rise to the appearance of compromising his or her independent judgment.”
Some on the committee thought the language was too vague or confusing. But Teaching Elder Commissioner Troy Braswell said, “It doesn’t cover every trip you’ve ever made. Disclosure begins when you’re elected. If you serve on any non-profit board anywhere you have to disclose much more than this.”
After some minor editing with changing the recommendation's intent, the committee approved the policy on a vote of 53-5, placing it on the Wednesday Consent agenda.
In other business, the committee listened to testimony from hotel worker Carly Kurchen on conditions for hotel workers at a hotel used for lodging commissioners.
Kurchens spoke in support of "A Resolution to Support Hotel and Hospitality Workers Through the Adoption of Just Policies in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)" from the Advisory Committee on Women’s Concerns.
“My coworkers and I are fighting for a safer workplace. Our work conditions are below union hotels," she said.
She said that even though workers are trying to organize, the company refuses to come to the table. She said, “Hotels go to great lengths to attract companies. They are far more likely to negotiate when pressured by companies like the PC(USA). By voting you can help us achieve respect, dignity, and a fair working wage.”
The resolution, which won unanimous recommendation for adoption, would direct the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Office of General Assembly to include protective language in every hotel contract so that if there is a labor dispute at the contracted hotel, the denomination could pull out of the contract without penalty. It also directs the adoption of a policy to give preference to hotels where the workers are organized, or where the management supports just wage and work standards.
In other actions, the Committee is sending to the consent agenda with unanimous or near unanimous votes
- proposals for General Assembly per capita budgets,
- amendment of the standing rules for General Assembly moderator expenses, and
- appointment and terms of office of the General Assembly associate stated clerks.