Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) blogs

In Spirit and Truth

Subscribe to this blog feed icon

Follow us on Twitter  

About this blog

In Spirit and Truth seeks to encourage discussion and deeper consideration of representation issues in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It is hoped entries will prompt reflection and dialogue on aspects of expanding representation and supporting full participation in the PCUSA, especially at the assembly and mid council levels.  

This blog will occasionally feature content written by one of the fourteen members of the General Assembly Committee on Representation, who are church members, ministers (teaching elders) and ruling elders from across the country, as well as links and articles of particular interest. The ministries of advising, consulting, advocating, promoting inclusion, reviewing and recommending actions are vital to the life of the whole Body of Christ. Committees on Representation and/or their functions exists at all councils above session so from time to time we may highlight activities and insights from sister committees on representation at lower councils throughout the church.  

Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. or the General Assembly Committee on Representation.
Author/Facilitator Molly Casteel is an Assistant Stated Clerk and the Manager for Equity and Representation in the Office of the General Assembly.  She is a teaching elder (a.k.a. Minister of Word and Sacrament) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.

Recent posts



See all PC(USA) Blogs

PC(USA) Home

May 19, 2014

What Did You Say? Representation and Language of the 221st General Assembly (2014)

An Abbreviated Guide to GA Insider Jargon & Acronyms

Presbyterians love to abbreviate and use acronyms as we navigate life in councils and in relationship.  This tendency can obfuscate communication.  Below I humbly offer a simple list of common acronyms used during General Assembly meetings which may be helpful.  If you have more to add or acronyms that you’d like to have defined – simply comment and I’ll add more.

The main roles of participants of any assembly are:

TEC = Teaching Elder Commissioner         

Elected by presbyteries, teaching elders (aka, Ministers of Word and Sacrament), have voice and vote in committee meetings as well as any business meeting of the Assembly to which they are a commissioner.

REC = Ruling Elder Commissioner

Elected by presbyteries, ruling elders (aka, elders), are equal in standing with teaching elders as commissioners, having voice and vote in committee meetings as well as any business meeting of the Assembly to which they are a commissioner.

a pie chart with the commissioner and advisory delegate roles and the % of the whole for each - 39% are TEc, 39% REC, 18% YAAD, 3% TSAD, 1% MAD, EADs were not in the data set received on April 24, 2014

Figure 1: Participants by Role at the 221st General Assembly (2014)

YAAD = Young Adult Advisory Delegate 

Elected by presbyteries, young adult advisory delegates are women and men aged 17-23 years old on the date that the assembly convenes, who do not have to (but may) be ordained ruling or teaching elders.  They must be an active member of a PCUSA congregation.  As advisory delegates, they have voice and vote in assembly committee, but only have voice in business meetings of the assembly to which they are an advisory delegate.  Their votes are advisory and are shared with commissioners before their own votes which decide on matters before the assembly.

TSAD = Theological Student Advisory Delegate 

Elected by Presbyterian seminaries (and those with covenant relationship to the PCUSA) by various means, TSADs are students preparing for ordained ministry (inquirers or candidates) in the PCUSA with at least one more year left of study.  They may or may not be ordained ruling elders. As advisory delegates, they have voice and vote in assembly committee, but only have voice in business meetings of the assembly to which they are an advisory delegate.  

EAD = Ecumenical Advisory Delegate 

Up to fifteen ecumenical advisory delegates, ten of these delegates shall be
from churches outside of the United States.  Invitations to communions are made by the Presbyterian Mission Agency at the recommendation of the GACEIR.  Delegates are designated by the invited ecumenical partner Communions. Like other advisory delegates, they have voice and vote in committee, but only voice in business meetings. Guest Communions are designated brief time during a business meeting to address the assembly.

MAD = Mission Advisory Delegate

There are eight missionary advisory delegates, who are chosen by the Presbyterian Mission Agency (World Mission) from persons who are members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and mission personnel assigned by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in another country in which this church is engaged in mission. No two delegates represent the same country or geographical area. They have voice and vote in assembly committee, but only have voice in business meetings of the assembly to which they are an advisory delegate.  

For more information on these roles – consult the Standing Rules of the General Assembly (SR).

Demographic Acronyms - Representation Triads

When we describe the characteristics of an individual commissioner or advisory delegate we use letters to describe race, gender and role (in that order). For example: a WMT is a White, male, Teaching Elder, and a BFR is a Black, female, Ruling Elder.

The racial descriptors are always in first position and are as following:

W = White/Euro-American /Caucasian

B = Black/African American

A = Asian/Pacific Islander

H = Hispanic/Latin@

N = Native American/American Indian

M = Middle Eastern

O = Other

When a person registers more than one racial category they may appear in sequence. For example a female ruling elder who reports being both White and Native American may be designated WNFR. [As GACOR was preparing data sets on commissioners and advisory delegates, they used X to designate folks claiming multiple racial categories and U to designate persons whose race was not recorded.]

The gender descriptors are in the second position and are: M= male and F= female. 

The role descriptors are in third position and are:







Examples of a rarer triad may be HFE (Hispanic, female, EAD), NMM (Native American, male, MAD), and MFS (Middle Eastern, female, TSAD).

Other items, roles and entities at GA that you may encounter:

SR = Standing Rules

OA = Overture Advocate

RC = Resource Coordinator

RP = Resource Person

CA = Committee Assistant

Mod = Moderator

VMod = Vice Moderator

CM = Corresponding Member

SC = Stated Clerk

P = Parliamentarian

RR = Robert's Rules of Order

BOO = Book of Order

BOC = Book of Confessions

FOG = Form of Government

OM = Organization for Mission

Other GA jargon, sources of business, etc.:

ACC = Advisory Committee on the Constitution

ACREC = Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns

ACSWP = Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy

ACWC = Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns

COR = Committee on Representation

COGA = Committee on the Office of the General Assembly

GA = General Assembly

GA221 = 221st General Assembly (2014)

GACEIR = General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations

GACOR = General Assembly Committee on Representation

GANC = General Assembly Nominating Committee

GAPJC = General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission

MCC2 = Mid Council Commission II

Mid Councils = presbyteries and synods

PCUSA = Presbyterian Church in the United States of America

PMAB = Presbyterian Mission Agency Board

General Assembly Agencies of the PCUSA:

BOP = Board of Pensions

FDN = Presbyterian Foundation

OGA = Office of the General Assembly

CW = Churchwide Ministries

EE = Ecclesial and Ecumenical Ministries

MCM = Mid Council Ministries

PILP = Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program

PMA = Presbyterian Mission Agency

CPJ = Compassion, Peace and Justice

ECG = Evangelism and Church Growth

EDO = Executive Director's Office

REWM/PW = Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries/Presbyterian Women

SS = Shared Services

TWE = Theology, Worship and Education

WM = World Mission

PPC = Presbyterian Publishing Corporation

PW = Presbyterian Women

Synods (most commonly used to describe designated nominations by GANC):

AKW = Alaska-Northwest

BPR = Boriquén, Puerto Rico

COV = Covenant

LAK = Lakes & Prairies

LIN = Lincoln Trails

LW = Living Waters

MAM = Mid America

MAT = Mid-Atlantic

NE = Northeast

PAC = Pacific

ROC = Rocky Mountains

SA = South Atlantic

SCH = Southern California & Hawaii

SW = Southwest

SUN = Sun

TRI = Trinity

That's the starter list.  As you can see, we like acronyms and use them almost unconsciously.  Perhaps this list will help you decipher what people are saying...

Categories: General Assembly

Tags: acronyms, ga221, language, representation