A request to establish an administrative commission “to address disorder in the Synod of the Covenant” is one of the items that will be on the agenda of Assembly Committee 5 when the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) meets June 16–23 in St. Louis.
That request, from the Presbytery of Cincinnati, has been met with a response from the Synod of the Covenant (item 05-06) that calls on the General Assembly to reject the Cincinnati overture “because the synod can demonstrate that it asserts false claims and misleading conclusions based on misinformation.”
The presbytery’s overture (05-03) alleges the following synod failures: to “determine a satisfactory method to fulfill the principles of participation and representation … in proposed amendments to the bylaws of the synod”; to “adequately support the ministry and mission of its presbyteries”; to “adequately facilitate communication with and among its presbyteries”; and to “adequately exercise pastoral care among its presbyteries.”
The presbytery goes on to allege a “loss of trust and mutuality between the synod and its constituent presbyteries,” between the “synod executive and multiple presbyteries of the synod,” and between the synod executive and leadership in “multiple presbyteries of the synod.” The overture also alleges “conflict between the synod executive and the racial ethnic caucuses of the synod.”
Two comments have been issued on the Cincinnati overture, one from the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) and the other from the Office of the General Assembly (OGA). The ACREC comment says the presbytery’s overture should be ruled out of order and adds, “Furthermore, it is troubling to see personnel matters brought out publicly without giving the individuals concerned due process to defend themselves.”
The OGA response concludes, “While it is not appropriate for personnel matters to be decided by the General Assembly, it is appropriate for the General Assembly, if it discerns the need, to establish an administrative commission to inquire into and settle such issues.”
Apart from the Cincinnati overture and the response from the Synod of the Covenant, the Mid Councils Committee will address requests to change the border between the Synod of the Northeast and the Synod of the Trinity and to change the boundaries of two adjacent presbyteries in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.
The committee will hear two overtures requesting name changes. One seeks to change the official name of Eastern Korean Presbytery to Eastern Korean American Presbytery. The other, from the Synod of Lincoln Trails, requests changing the official name of Midwest Hanmi Presbytery to Midwest Korean American Presbytery.
Committee 5 will also receive a review of synod minutes and will accept synod reports in response to a 2016 General Assembly action that urged synods to “undertake an intentional system of review and self-study and to report to General Assembly on a biannual basis.”
Duane Sweep is director of communications for the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. He is covering Assembly Committee 5 for the General Assembly News.