Among the business being considered by the Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations at the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) meeting June 18-25, 2016 in Portland, Oregon, is the final adoption of the Confession of Belhar.
Proposed by National Capital Presbytery to the 220th General Assembly (2012), an overture for Belhar’s inclusion in The Book of Confessions was affirmed by the required two-thirds, or 116, of presbyteries following the 221st General Assembly (2014)— 144 affirmative, 25 negative and 2 no action. The committee is expected to recommend the General Assembly “approve[s] and enact[s] the Confession of Belhar, to be included in The Book of Confessions, starting with the 2016 printing.”
A previous attempt at adopting the Confession of Belhar was defeated following the 219th General Assembly (2010) when presbytery yes votes were 108 and no votes 63.
In other business, the committee will consider the election of nine allotted PC(USA) delegates to the General Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches(WCRC) meeting June 27–July 7, 2017, in Leipzig, Germany. The slate includes the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Associate Stated Clerk and Director of Ecumenical Relations, Christian Ho Choi, Bruce Gillette, Gun Ho Lee; Emily McGinley, Michelle Sanchez, Anne Weirich and Whitney Wilkinson.
The committee will also propose to the Assembly the following list of ecumenical advisory delegates to invite to the 223rd General Assembly (2018):
International invitees – Assembly of Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Iraq, Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger, China Christian Council, Iglesia Reformada Presbyteriana de Guinea Ecuatorial, National Evangelical Church of Guatemala (IENPG), Presbyterian Church of Colombia (IPC), Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, United Protestant Church of France, Waldensian Evangelical Church of Rio de la Plata (IEVRP).
United States and/or Canada invitees – Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Church of God in Christ, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Moravian Church in North America, United Church of Christ.
Information items for the committee include a summary of the work and working principles of the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations (GACEIR), links to essential resources for GACEIR committee members and results of a 2016 self-study by GACEIR.
Primary findings of the self-study, as reported by GACEIR, include:
- An overwhelming majority of Presbyterian respondents stated that they are aware of the central mandate of the denomination to be in ecumenical relations with other Christians and concur with the statement that “the church should have an ecumenical policy that helps guide it when working and ministering with other denominations.”
- According to Research Services’ Executive Summary, most Presbyterian respondents are aware of both the Ecumenical Stance and the Interreligious Stance, and yet less than a third are even moderately familiar with GACEIR.
- Among ecumenical and interfaith partner respondents, most are familiar with both the Ecumenical and Interreligious Stances. Approximately half of the respondents believe that the PC(USA) carries out the values lifted up in the stances moderately well.