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220th General Assembly
2012

Pittsburgh, June 30 - July 7, 2012.

Four more overtures have been submitted for the 2012 General Assembly
[10-8-11]

These are the latest overtures received by of Office of the General Assembly.  We are posting them here with some condensation, but they will be posted on PC-biz (pc-biz.org) once they have been edited by OGA.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ovt 005

On Amending G-2.0104b to Clarify Standards for Ordination—From the Presbytery of Stockton.

The Presbytery of Stockton overtures the 220th General Assembly (2012) to change the language of G-2.0104b in order to clarify the standards for ordination.

-- To insert after the first sentence: “These standards are found in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as interpreted by the Confessions of the church and include the commitment to live a chaste and disciplined life whether in holy marriage between a man and a woman or in single life" (Book of Confessions 4.108).

-- To insert in the second sentence these words: “…commitment to these standards….”

-- To delete the final sentence: “Councils shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates” and insert in its place: “Only those who affirm a desire to adhere to the standards for ordained service and who make an affirmative answer to the constitutional questions shall be ordained or installed.”

The new paragraph will then read:

b. Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (F-1.02). These standards are found in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as interpreted by the Confessions of the church and include the commitment to live a chaste and disciplined life whether in holy marriage between a man and a woman or in single life (Book of Confessions 4.108). The council responsible for the ordination and/or installation (G.2.0402; G-2.0607; G-3.0306) shall examine each candidate’s commitment to these standards, calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of ordered ministry. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Councils shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates. Only those who affirm a desire to adhere to the standards for ordained service and who make an affirmative answer to the constitutional questions shall be ordained or installed.

Rationale

The Form of Government of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) currently states that the manner of life of those called to ordained office in the church “should be a demonstration of the Christian gospel in the church and the world” (G-2.0104a). It is vital to clarify that this gospel we are called to demonstrate is not whatever one wishes it to be, but is, rather, the faith “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). This gospel is found in the Scriptures as interpreted by our Confessions.

Further, the Form of Government currently states that “Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (F-1.02)” (G-2.0104b). This affirmation begs the question of what the Lordship of Jesus Christ means. The answer includes that we have no knowledge of Jesus Christ other than as he is revealed to humanity in the written Word of God. Therefore joyful submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ means to seek obedience to the way of life that is commended to us in the Scriptures as interpreted by our Confessions.

This amendment gives necessary definition to terms used in the Form of Government and removes ambiguity in the present wording that is causing grievous disruption to the peace, unity, purity, and witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ovt 006

On Amending G-2.0104a. to Include Standards Regarding Sexual Behavior—From the Presbytery of Central Florida.

The Presbytery of Central Florida overtures the 220th General Assembly (2012) to direct the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly to send the following proposed amendment to the presbyteries for their affirmative or negative votes:

Shall G-2.0104a be amended by inserting the following text: [text to be inserted is shown as italic]

a.   Those called to exercise special functions in the church – deacons, ruling elders, and teaching elders – God gives suitable gifts for their various duties. In addition to possessing the necessary gifts and abilities, those who undertake particular ministries should be persons of strong faith, dedicated discipleship, and love of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Their manner of life should be a demonstration of the Christian gospel in the church and the world, including living either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. They must have the approval of God’s people and the concurring judgment of a council of the church.

Rationale

Ordained persons who have abused the power of their office have harmed many in the church. This sends a strong message that such behavior will not be tolerated.

The removal of clear standards regarding sexual behavior is harmful not only to the Presbyterian Church (USA) but also to many of our ecumenical relationships.

The removal of clear standards about appropriate sexual behavior has created misrepresentation of our beliefs and persecution of Christians in parts of the world where Christians are in the minority.

The passage of Amendment 10-A has been destructive to the peace, purity and unity of the church.

In a world filled with confusion about sexual ethics and commitment, the church needs to emphasize the importance of fidelity within the bonds of marriage.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ovt 007

On Instructing MRTI to Study and Report Corporate Practices of Health Insurance Companies and Possible Divestment of Same—From the Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky.

The Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky respectfully overtures the 220th General Assembly (2012) to instruct Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) to report to the General Assembly Mission Council on the corporate practices of Cigna, Aetna, Humana, WellPoint, United Health Care health insurance companies – in particular as such practices compare with and relate to previous General Assembly actions relative to health care. The General Assembly Mission Council is authorized and encouraged to act on this information, and, as it deems appropriate, implement divestment procedures as well as encourage individual Presbyterians and congregations to divest of holdings in the said companies; and, in view of the urgency of the ongoing health care crisis, to take action within six months of the adoption of this recommendation; and to report to the 221st General Assembly (2014) on divestment actions.

Rationale

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has consistently called for fundamental reform of United States healthcare systems and in 2008 “endorse[d] in principle the provision of single-payer universal health care reform…as the program that best responds to the moral imperative of the gospel.” ...

The Presbyterian Church (USA), in its healthcare policy statements, has repeatedly pointed to issues of quality, equity and accessibility. ...

One instrument for implementation of its mission is church investment policy with the corresponding option to divest from those companies that actively oppose its mission goals;

Violation of a basic human right, such as the right to health care, is one of several criteria by which corporate behavior may be evaluated; [See MRTI priority issues work plan and historical involvements relative to both health care and human rights at its web page - http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/mrti/]

Since the primary mission of for-profit insurance companies is to make a profit for their investors and since they are not themselves providers, by definition they decrease rather than increase access to health care.

For-profit health insurance companies consciously and deliberately oppose the above health care principles and policy goals of the PCUSA in order to fulfill their for-profit mission.

The actions of for-profit health insurance companies have brought untold suffering and hardship in both the private and public spheres and have obstructed the development of healthier individuals in a healthier society.

Health care reform legislation enacted by the U.S. Congress in 2010 only strengthens the decision-making role of for-profit health insurance companies in matters affecting individuals’ access to health care.

The Presbyterian Church has no obligation to support such companies through investment but, to the contrary, has a moral obligation to withdraw financially from them to the extent that they are detrimental to the goal of equal access to health care.

For-profit health insurance companies produce no product for the public good but instead increase exposure to the financial ruin of individuals and the society as a whole.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ovt 008

On Amending the Book of Order Concerning the Titles Used for Those in Ordered Ministries—From the Presbytery of Santa Fe.

The Presbytery of Santa Fe respectfully overtures the 220th General Assembly (2012) of the Presbyterian Church (USA):

1. That in the Form of Government (newly adopted, 2011) the terms “ruling elder” and “teaching elder” used for those in ordered ministries be replaced throughout the with the former terms “elder” and “minister of Word and Sacrament” being substituted.

2. That section F-3.0202 be re-worded as follows (words to be stricken and/or replaced shown underlined and new words in bold italics):

(Current:) This church shall be governed by presbyters, that is, ruling elders and teaching elders. Ruling elders are so named not because they “lord it over” the congregation (Mt. 20:25), but because they are chosen by the congregation to discern and weigh its fidelity to the Word of God, and to strengthen and nurture its faith and life. Teaching elders shall be committed in all their work to equipping the people of God for their ministry and witness.

(Proposed:) This church shall be governed by presbyters, that is, elders and ministers of the Word and Sacrament. Elders are chosen by the congregation to discern and guide in its fidelity to the Word of God, and to strengthen and nurture its faith and life. Ministers of the Word and Sacrament shall be committed in all their work to teaching the faith in word and in deed and equipping the people of God for their ministry and witness. 

[There follow more detailed revised definitions of elder and minister, with the basic rationale being that “[t]he change from ‘Elder; to ‘Ruling Elder’ is both restrictive and negative in its implications ... as the word ‘ruling’ evokes an authoritarianism that is foreign to the ‘ministry’ of elders in the current church,” and that the title “teaching elder”  ignores many dimensions of ministry, including “spiritual formation” as well as pastoral care, and the ministry of the sacraments. This may lead to a view of ministry that is excessively focused on its intellectual aspect alone.]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Got comments on any of these proposals for change (or for rolling back change,
as the case may be!)?
Just send a note,
to be shared here!

Here we go again! Overtures coming to the 2012 General Assembly
[8-20-11]

The first four overtures to the 220th General Assembly (Pittsburgh, June 30 - July 7, 2012) have been announced by the Office of the General Assembly.   

The overtures are UNEDITED. Once the overtures have been edited, they will appear on PC-biz (pc-biz.org) .

Without posting them in their entirely, here are their titles (at least right now), the presbyteries which have submitted each them, and a few excerpts that hopefully will convey their major points.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Overture 001

On Amending Standing Rule F.6.c. Regarding Nominations from the Floor.

Boston

The Presbytery of Boston respectfully overtures the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that it amend General Assembly Standing Rules F.6.c(2) and F.6.c (3)(d) on the procedures for nominations from the floor of the assembly:

That F.6.c.(2) be amended by inserting and stating the person’s reason for challenging the nomination presented by the nominating committee” and by concluding F.6.c. (2) by inserting “The availability of the pertinent information provided by the person challenging the nominating committee’s nominee shall be announced to the assembly at least twenty-four hours in advance of the nomination being made from the floor” ...

....

While affirming the importance of floor nominations in the life of the church, it is also important to note that such nominations come to the assembly without benefit of the scrutiny that is given to those whose names are brought by the Nominating Committee.

Congregations and lower governing bodies are often able to consider nominations with the benefit of significant knowledge of the individuals involved, but in a body as large as the General Assembly it is probable that few if any of the voting commissioners will be personally familiar with those for whom they are voting. For this reason, the vast disparity in the information available about the two candidates becomes significant.

Any attempt to subject a floor nominee to a vetting process similar to that used for those nominated by the committee would be violative of the principle of free election. There are, however, other measures which can be implemented to encourage full, thoughtful and informed decisions by all commissioners. Those presented in this overture seek to accomplish these ends: ....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Overture 002

On Urging the Board of Pensions to Refrain from Amending the Benefits Plan to Extend Eligibility for Same-Gender Partners.

San Diego

San Diego Presbytery overtures the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to urge the Board of Pensions to refrain from exploring, developing or adopting amendments to the Benefits Plan to extend eligibility for spousal and dependent benefits under the Plan to Benefits Plan Members, their same-gender domestic partners, and the children of their same-gender domestic partners.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Overture 003

On Rescinding the 219th General Assembly Action Regarding a Call to Stand with Immigrant Presbyterians (Item 11-11).

Grand Canyon

... we believe that the recommended actions which have the effect of a boycott of the state of Arizona by the 219th General Assembly of the PCUSA do not appropriately address these concerns. Further, we believe that this resolution has a harmful effect on congregations in the state and for the target population in general.

Calling the church to refrain from holding national meetings in Arizona and states with immigration legislation similar to SB1070/HB2162 represents an unprecedented decision which directly impacts congregations, presbyteries and a synod, all of which need additional support in this time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Overture 004

On Amending G-2.0104 to Make it Consistent with the Constitutional Questions in W-4.4003.

Kiskiminetas

The Presbytery of Kiskiminetas overtures the 220th General Assembly (2012) to change the language of G-2.0104b to be consistent with the Constitutional Questions of ordination/installation in W-4.4003.

Strike: “Councils shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”

Replace with: “When examining those being presented for ordination and or installation, the Council shall do so in obedience to Jesus Christ, under the authority of scripture and guided by our confessions.”

 

 

Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.

 

John Shuck’s new "Religion for Life" website

Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck, a Presbyterian minister currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.

Click here for his blog posts.

Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."

 

John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.

 

Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.

 

Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!

 

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