General Assembly Committee 5 answered two overtures Monday by calling for the creation of an administrative commission to “address disorder in the Synod of the Covenant,” and work toward reconciliation and healing.
The action came in the evening after the committee had created a group to draft a response to an overture from the Presbytery of Cincinnati calling for the General Assembly to create an administrative commission (item 05-03), and an overture from the synod to reject the Cincinnati overture (item 05-06).
The Cincinnati overture had alleged numerous synod failures to meet its obligations under the Book of Order, as well as alleged failings on the part of the synod executive. The Synod of the Covenant responded to the Cincinnati overture, pointing out what it called “false claims and misleading conclusions.”
Committee 5 concluded that the conflict and discord warranted the creation of an administrative commission.
The Rev. Ed Koster, stated clerk for the Presbytery of Detroit and an supporter of the Cincinnati overture, said, “The Synod of Covenant is simply failing in its responsibilities. … The problems are many and manifest. And we need your help.”
Koster’s presbytery was one of four of the synod’s 11 presbyteries to concur with the Cincinnati overture.
Ruling elder Johanna Jozwiak, moderator of the Synod of Covenant, said the Cincinnati overture “contains all kinds of personnel accusations.” The answering action of Committee 5 does not refer to personnel concerns.
In the afternoon, during a period of discernment, Ruling Elder Commissioner Leslie Ferrell of the Presbytery of Seattle said she was concerned that the discord would continue if the committee failed to act. “There’s not just a trickle down into our presbyteries,” she said. “If trickles down into our churches.”
After hearing from advocates of both overtures, the committee concluded that the conflict within the Synod of the Covenant was too significant to overcome without the creation of an administrative commission.
Earlier in the day, the committee voted 54-0 to approve overtures that would change the name of Eastern Korean Presbytery to Eastern Korean American Presbytery, and rename Midwest Hanmi Presbytery to Midwest Korean American Presbytery. The committee also unanimously approved overtures that would change the border between the Synod of the Northeast and the Synod of the Trinity, and slightly change the boundary of two adjacent presbyteries in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies.