The Mid Councils Committee at the 225th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will consider 10 items June 20 to 22, many of which address inclusion of communities that have been marginalized, while adhering to Presbyterian policy.
Among those is MC-07, A Resolution on Chartering Immigrant Fellowships sponsored by the Racial Equity Advocacy Committee (REAC). The resolution is a referral from the 224th General Assembly in 2020, which was shortened due to the Covid pandemic.
The resolution directs the Office of the General Assembly to develop standardized guidelines for chartering immigrant fellowships, worshiping communities, and new church developments and to use the term new church development instead of fellowship so they will be included in the statistics of the PC(USA).
“More than half of the denomination’s new communities are comprised predominately of people of color and new immigrants from the global south,” the resolution's rationale says. Presbyteries’ approaches to chartering new congregations are often haphazard, though, without specific guidelines. That leads to underrepresentation of these groups in mid-council business and in the church’s overall statistics. “Developing standard guidelines would eliminate any semblance of discrimination, with the understanding that these guidelines are applied fairly and justly to all groups.”
Other similar resolutions coming before the committee include MC-10, On Establishing a Task Force to Explore the Theology and Practice of Ordination to Ordered Ministry for Ruling Elders from the Presbytery of San Fernando. Like the REAC resolution, MC-10 asserts that immigrant fellowships and New Worshipping Communities are a major growth area for the church but lack representation because they and their leadership have not followed traditional paths of development.
Several comments on the overture note the work of this task force could have broad ramifications while recommending its formation. Comments on several other overtures note concerns in those submissions may be addressed by action on MC-10.
Another issue addressed in several items the committee will consider address pastor shortages and using commissioned pastors or ruling elders, particularly in rural areas.
- MC-08 from Pal Duro Presbytery in northwest Texas calls for a vote claringifying language in the Book of Order regarding the use of commissioned pastors to allow them to serve one or more validated ministries in a presbytery.
- MC-05 from Southern Illinois Presbytery calls for a vote on amending the Book of Order to allow for greater flexibility in the moderation of session meetings if a minister of Word and Sacrament is not available. It calls for the one-time appointment of a ruling elder or electronic moderation by a minister of Word and Sacrament.
Other items the committee will consider include the formation of a non-geographic Korean language presbytery on the West Coast, benefit equity among mid-council executive staff, severance plans for installed ministers, and the continuing work of a commission addressing disorder in the Synod of the Covenant.