Whether the time has come to change the timing of the election the Moderator of the General Assembly will be on the agenda of the Committee on General Assembly Procedures at the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) meeting June 18-25, 2016 in Portland, Oregon.

The Presbytery of St. Andrews is proposing moving the election of the General Assembly Moderator and Vice-Moderator (or Co-Moderators) to the end of the meeting, rather than the beginning. Their rationale is that this would permit the Assembly to elect those who have demonstrated leadership throughout the week, rather than electing on the basis of campaign speeches and a brief question and answer period as the Assembly kicks off. The General Assembly would then send the newly elected Moderators to “serve as its ambassadors for the next two years, working to build the next assembly’s agenda and business, over which they would then preside.”

The overture additionally asks that a system be established for General Assembly committees to convene at least six months prior to the assembly, using electronic meeting technologies. Proponents believe this would improve upon “the current process of coming together for a total of one week with the expectation that commissioners will reach good and well-reasoned decisions on a myriad of matters enumerated in thousands of pages of overtures, responses, reports, and recommendations.” If the overture passes, the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) would be directed to bring proposals for the constitutional changes and implementation recommendations to the 223rd General Assembly.

Several overtures seek to help the General Assembly better address racial, ethnic and cultural diversity in the PC(USA). The Presbytery of Greater Atlanta proposes adding the category “multiracial” to the annual statistical report submitted by sessions. The Presbytery of Elizabeth proposes a task group to revise the entire classification system to avoid confusion and misrepresentation. The Presbytery of Arkansas asks that a new category called “Partners in Ministry” be added for those who are not members, but are full participants in the ministry of a congregation.

Other business before the committee includes:

  • A proposal to introduce more breadth of perspectives in resource materials and oral presentations provided to General Assembly committees.
  • Acceptance of the invitation of the Presbytery of Scioto Valley to hold the 225th General Assembly (2022) in Columbus, Ohio, June 25–July 2, 2022.
  • The recommendation that the General Assembly per capita rate be 7.33 per active member for 2017, and a rate of $7.55 to be effective for 2018. This is an increase from the previous rate of $7.02, which had remained the same for several years.
  • Benchmarks for the representation of women and people from minoritized racial groups in the employment of personnel by the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
  • Approval of a standard definition of “Supplier Diversity” for use by all six agencies of the PC(USA).
  • A recommendation that when the General Assembly is in plenary session, that action upon any items with constitutional implications shall be suspended until the Advisory Committee on the Constitution renders an opinion to the Moderator.

Erin Cox-Holmes, executive presbyter for the Presbytery of Donegal and regular contributor to Presbyterian News Service, will cover the committee for the General Assembly Communication Center.