Comprehensive Digest of Social Witness at the 220th PC(USA) General Assembly


Denominational Structure & Polity

Item 04-01: Biennial Assemblies Report

Approved by the General Assembly with amendment and disapproval of Recommendation 5 calling for the creation of young adult commissioners with voting power. The Assembly amended Recommendation 3 (intended to limit the number of overtures and commissioners’ resolutions), so that concurrence is required only from one other presbytery or commissioner.

ACSWP Advice and Counsel said of Recommendation 3 that “concern for the prophetic imagination makes the ability of a single presbytery to overture the whole assembly seem an important virtue of our democratic system. Requiring one or two concurrences would seem sufficient to ensure broader importance while encouraging the church’s creativity… [Otherwise] this could result in more ‘politicking’ and ‘lobbying’ by special interest groups… A further concern is diversity; seeking concurrence has the danger of ‘diluting’ distinctive concerns of presbyteries facing particular issues.”

Item 05-12: Mid-Council Report to the Assembly

The Assembly referred Recommendations 1-4 (elimination of synods, enhancement of the role of presbyteries) to a task force for further discussion and refinement; approved Recommendations 5, 7, and 8 (creation of task forces, including a National Racial Ethnic Ministries Task Force); disapproved Recommendation 6 (creation of non-geographic presbyteries).

The ACSWP Advice and Counsel stated, “the recommendation of non-geographic presbyteries threatens to balkanize the church into covenants of the like-minded. In the current climate, while claiming to want more ‘trust’ and even ‘mutual submission’, this proposal seems likely to weaken connectionalism and exacerbate division further.” Furthermore, ACSWP was “particularly concerned with the nature of the missional church that is to be recreated in the absence of significant attention to economic constraints and any corporate social witness or education… [through which] the church had a public role in civil rights, caring for the earth, resisting wars, advancing women, and addressing a host of human needs, while producing liturgies, resources, and programs to present the Gospel to people at all stages of the life cycle.”


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