A report recommending efforts to strengthen Korean-American congregations was approved Monday by the General Assembly Committee of Mid Councils. The committee voted overwhelmingly during the 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to approve a report submitted by the Task Force for Korean- speaking Congregations, with an amendment to one of the report’s recommendations.

The amendment asks the synods of  the  western  United   States (Alaska-Northwest, Pacific, Southern California/Hawaii, Southwest, Rocky Mountain, and Sun) to consider creating a new Korean non-geographic presbytery in the western United States.

Before the vote, Irene Pak Lee, a task force member, told the committee that non-geographic presbyteries would help Korean- speaking Presbyterians feel more empowered and freer to talk about church issues.

Responding to comments that synods in the West probably would not be willing to create a non-geographic presbytery, Conrad Rocha, executive and stated clerk of the Synod of the Southwest, said that if the assembly recommended it, “we would be compelled to have this conversation.”

The committee also approved an amended recommendation in an overture that says “no presbytery shall start ministries within the geographic bounds of other presbyteries and synods without the approval of those councils.”

Heeding advice from the Advisory Committee on the Constitution (ACC), the committee recommended disapproval of a part of the overture that would have eliminated the requirement that a congregation that seeks dismissal to a non- geographic presbytery must be dismissed to one within its own synod or a synod with contiguous boundaries.

In its advice, the ACC said: “Wider distances between congregations and the presbyteries of which they are members increase the potential for isolation of the congregation. It makes more difficult development and maintenance of relationships of accountability and nurture.”