Way Forward Commission establishes process to encourage engagement

January 9, 2017

The General Assembly Way Forward Commission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has released its process for receiving initial communications and suggestions from any interested PC(USA) groups or individuals. The online form is designed to assist the commission in identifying areas for continued discernment about the ministries and structure of the national denomination.

The form is available in English, Korean, and Spanish, although the commission will accept submissions in any language. Recognizing the timeframe and scope of their work, the commission has set February 28 as a deadline for submissions, which are limited to 2,000 words.

Since the body’s first meeting in mid-December at Auburn Seminary in New York, the commission’s working groups have been active in candid conversations throughout the church. This current process for receiving input is an important step in broadening those conversations as the commission develops a vision for the structure and staffing of the national church.

The commission has committed to modeling shared values of humility, openness, and innovation as Reformed and ever-reforming Presbyterians, believing in the power of the Holy Spirit to provide courage to nimbly move in new directions. Regular, two-way communication among commission members and with the church about the commission’s agendas, observations, emerging discernment, and recommendations is being established to ensure transparency and effective communication.

The Way Forward Commission’s moderator, Mark Hostetter, encouraged wide participation in the comment process, and asked that it be done quickly. “Now is the time for Presbyterians, individually or together in groups, to come forward with their best thinking, their most creative dreaming, for how we will engage with each other as a denomination in our changed world,” he said.

Again, the deadline for submission of the comment form to the commission is February 28, 2017.

The Way Forward Commission’s scheduled meetings for 2017 are: March 5–7 at Johnson C. Smith and Columbia Theological seminaries in Atlanta; May 15–17 in Chicago; and September 17–19 at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Kentucky. The commission also plans to hold conference call meetings February 7, April 18, and August 9.

웨이 포워드 위원회, 참여를 장려하는 과정수립

Comisión Camino hacia Adelante establece proceso para fomentar participación 

  1. If we look at the individual worshipper and not just the organization of the agencies, we begin to get an idea about one segment of the church population who are walking away from the Church. This article focuses on one such group. We have made efforts to loosen the regulatory framework of the Book of Order in the New Form of Government. But are we doing enough to educate our members and the public in order to stem the number of parishioners who are heading out the door of organized religion? http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2015/summer-2015/meet-dones.html

    by Kenneth Whitehurst

    March 12, 2017

  2. Recommendation Require that the Foundation and the Mission Agency each designate a “Restricted Funds Ombudsman,” independent of the existing program and spending personnel, to which Donors, Beneficiaries and other stakeholders may bring any allegations of failure to comply with Donor directives or other related conduct inconsistent with PCUSA principles of openness and accountability, and have them meaningfully addressed. Such Ombudsmen will report at least annually to both Agencies' Boards, and biannually to the relevant GA Committee, all complaints, along with their considerations, findings and dispositions. As we have expressed in previous correspondence with the Foundation, we believe it is critical that these Agencies not only seek to employ rigorous standards of honesty, accountability and fair dealing, but that our Members are confident that those standards will be honored when actions of the Church are challenged with respect to compliance with the express wishes of charitable Donors. An unambiguous reputation for such transparency and accountability for both past and future major donations is necessary to a growing endowment for ministry. Responsibility for such Member confidence cannot be devolved to secular authorities. Michael Lindvall, Brick Presbyterian Church, NYC, Jon Walton, First Presbyterian Church, Scott Black Johnston, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, NYC. Patrick O’Connor, First Presbyterian Church of Jamaica, NYC, Eric Springstead and Beverly Bartlett, Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church NYC.

    by Michael L Lindvall

    February 27, 2017

  3. Comment This submission is to propose constructive action to address the unfortunate lacuna in the operational structure of the PCUSA identified in the April 9, 2016 Decision of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the General Assembly (“GAPJC”) in Remedial Case 222-08 (The Session of the Rutgers Presbyterian Church, New York, NY v. the Presbyterian Foundation (“Foundation”), the Board of National Missions (“BNM”) and the Presbyterian Mission Agency). The reason given by the GAPJC for dismissing this case was the failure “to state a claim upon which this Commission can grant relief.” Thus, it declined to consider allegations against PCUSA Agencies founded on breech of their fiduciary duties under the 1934 Trust Agreement transferring the Jarvie Commonweal Service to the BNM. The Decision correctly indicated that such breeches could violate New York law (governing the conduct of BNM under the Trust Agreement) but declined to consider whether the same actions could also violate Church law, holding that the existence of an enforceable secular right precluded any ecclesiastical remedy. The PJC Decision followed the Charities Bureau of the Office of the New York State Attorney General declining to investigate or prosecute a formal complaint of June 12, 2015, alleging such breeches, brought by a group of Teaching Elders, Officers and parishioners of Presbyterian Churches in several Presbyteries in the Greater New York area under the name “Friends of Jarvie.” Inaction of the Charities Bureau was based, not on the merits of the allegations, but for reasons of policy to conserve prosecutorial funds for cases involving missing funds rather than intra-Church differences. In any event, no action of any kind has been taken by the Charities Bureau to date, and the case appears to be dormant. The result, satisfactory to no one, leaves complainant Elders and other Presbyterian stakeholders deprived of a meaningful forum and effective remedy, and the accused Agencies without protections against potentially unfounded criticism and means of impartial vindication, putting at risk the reputations of the Agencies and the wider Church. We propose a solution which would honor the Principles of Church Discipline (D-1.0101): “not as a substitute for the secular judicial system, but to do what the secular judicial system cannot do…. to correct or restrain wrongdoing” and “to restore the unity of the Church by removing the causes of discord and division.” It would also rest squarely on the Foundations of Presbyterian Polity set forth in the Principles of Church Order and Government (F-3.0103) enjoining Church Officers to “exercise discipline for the preservation of both truth and duty.” Michael Lindvall, Brick Pres. Church, NYC, Jon Walton, First Pres. Church, Scott Black Johnston, Fifth Ave. Pres. Church, NYC. Patrick O’Connor, First Pres. Church of Jamaica, NYC, Eric Springstead and Beverly Bartlett, Madison Ave. Pres. Church, NYC.

    by Michael L Lindvall

    February 27, 2017

  4. Fossil Free PCUSA has a report and recommendations for changes at the GA level. Problem is that it does not fit in your limited form. Who can we submit this to?

    by Pam McVety

    February 21, 2017

  5. Jesus reminded us that we cannot put new wine into old wineskins. The new wine--our changing society and communities. The old wineskins--our church as we know it today. Every 10 years a local church should do a comprehensive self study to see where the Lord wants us to go. All functions of a church need to be analyzed in detail.

    by robert wright

    February 11, 2017

  6. How can I be part and parcel

    by pastor webster kalangwa

    January 10, 2017

  7. so, no live gatherings West of the Mississippi??

    by Deborah Wright

    January 9, 2017

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