In 120 days, the 225th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will open. Entities, commissions, and committees of the General Assembly have until 11:59 p.m. to submit their final reports, papers, and overtures. The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) wasted no time on Thursday going over a short list of items during its monthly call.

The Standing Rules Work Group, made up of COGA members and OGA staff, is proposing some rules changes that would take effect for the 226th General Assembly supporting the work of translationby capping the length of reports. Among the highlights:

  • All items of business submitted for action by the assembly, including any
    accompanying communications and resource material, shall be translated into the languages approved by the Stated Clerk.
  • Concurrences on overtures will be limited to 1,500 words
  • Commissioners' resolutions will be limited to 750 words

COGA also approved a recommendation that the 225th General Assembly authorize a special committee on the Standing Rules of the General Assembly. If approved this summer, the committee would review current standing rules and documents and propose a new set of rules at the 226th Assembly.

Responsibilities under the special committee would include:

  • reviewing past revisions and proposed changes to standing rules
  • consulting with the Stated Clerk and other PC(USA) agencies and entities regarding changes
  • promoting broad access and participation by the whole church
  • assisting the Assembly in promoting equity throughout its processes and in its decisions

At the recommendation of staff, COGA approved the list of responses to referrals for this summer’s gathering, which is shorter than previous assemblies, according to OGA leaders. That includes referrals from the 224th Assembly, where numerous items were not considered because of the shortened online gathering. 

In other action, COGA also approved a cross-agency antiracism statement that had been crafted in part by the Diverse Voices Table. The statement documents strides that have been made across the denomination and mandates that the Church embrace antiracism as a major part of its corporate identity.

“We state unequivocally that racism and all forms of discrimination and marginalization are sins against humanity and God, inconsistent with our Christian and corporate values and unacceptable within our agencies and entities,” the statement reads.

Sonia Prescott, with the Presbyterian Historical Society, served on the writing team for the statement.

“In developing this statement, we wanted to make sure it represented the voice of the six agencies and two entities of the PC(USA),” she said. “There are two important points to this. The church needs to grapple with a sense of reckoning with the past and hold a level of accountability for the future.”

The statement will be added to COGA’s Manual of Operations.