When it meets June 20-22, the 225th General Assembly’s Polity Committee has an even dozen items of business to complete, as well as an informational item from the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission.
Sarah Thornburg of the Presbytery of Western North Carolina will serve as committee moderator. Cheryl Hartman of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta will be the vice-moderator. View the committee’s business items and the report from the Permanent Judicial Commission here.
Among the overtures committee members will consider:
- POL-04, from the Presbytery of Northern New England, would amend G-2.1002 in the Book of Order to allow commissioned ruling elders serving a ministry in a presbytery for six years to be ordained as a minister of Word and Sacrament. The rationale states the overture “allows for the presbytery to provide the education and oversight for those who are called but cannot afford to attend a traditional seminary.” Many presbyteries “have expressed difficulty in finding qualified pastors.” The Advisory Committee on the Constitution and the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns advise commissioners to disapprove the overture.
- POL-06 would add language to G-3.0303 to give presbyteries the authority to convene meetings of a congregation or session “to raise issues relating to the viability and survivability of a particular congregation when it believes that the near- or long-term prospects are not encouraging,” according to the overture’s rationale. The ACC advises against approving the overture, submitted by the Presbytery of Detroit.
- POL-07, from the Presbytery of the Miami Valley, would strike “honorably” from the term “honorably retired” as it applies to ministers of Word and Sacrament. “That designation may be perfectly fitting for many Presbyterian ministers as they retire from active pastoral roles,” the rationale states, “but presbyteries sometimes face situations in which a minister’s service has been marked by difficulties and challenges that do not rise to the level of formal disciplinary charges and censure, but which are hardly worthy of the label ‘honorable.’”
- POL-09, an overture from the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest, would require that two-thirds of presbyteries, rather than a simple majority, approve amendments to the Book of Order. The ACC and the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly both recommend disapproval.
- POL-10, from the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley with concurrence from nine other presbyteries, would require all councils to adopt an antiracism policy with suggested training for all members of each council.
- POL-12, an overture from Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, would restore the office of parish associate to the Book of Order, which was removed from the Form of Government in 2011. The ACC recommends commissioners disapprove, calling the proposed language unnecessary.
- POL-15, which comes from the Racial Equity Advocacy Committee, adds language to G-2.0505a(1) to develop an educational and/or mentoring program for immigrant pastors who may face cultural and linguistic challenges in the United States.
- POL-16, an overture from the Presbytery of Northeast New Jersey, seeks to use consistent language about disability throughout the foundational statements of the Book of Order. As the rationale points out, people with disabilities comprise 26% of the U.S. population, making them the nation’s largest minority group. “People with disabilities represent an important part of our church,” the rationale states, “and they should be named in lists of people to be included.” The ACC and Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy recommend approval, while the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns and the LGBTQIA+ Advocacy Task Force recommend approval with amendments.
- POL-17, an overture from the Presbytery of Philadelphia, would require all councils adopt and implement a harassment policy. The amendment, according to the rationale, would “strengthen the body of Christ by requiring all councils of the church to acknowledge and address the broad range of damaging behaviors known as harassment.” While the ACC advises against approval, the ACWC and ACSWP both expressed support for the overture.
Watch livestreamed events from the 225th General Assembly here.