210th GA - 1998 - Charlotte, NC PDF Print E-mail

Some actions of the 210th GA (1998) of interest to PPL

To: the PPL/GA Team
From: Terry Schlossberg
RE: GA Report

Attached is the report of some of the outcomes of the General Assembly. Each one of you played an essential role in the positive outcomes. We are very grateful for your tireless service in praying and worshiping, giving testimony, in handing out DDs, in preparing the DDs, in working in the booth, in making our event go smoothly, in providing hospitality, in sharing your rooms and your food and your lives and in generally living out the Gospel before those at the Assembly. May God richly bless you for such sacrificial service in his Name.

Reports are listed in order by the committee through which the business came, and not in the order they were presented on the floor. We have put the business before committees #13 on Health and Educational Issues and #10 on Church Orders and Ministry first because of the significance of the business in those committees.

Our record of the wording of amendments made on the floor and the votes are unofficial. We take them down as accurately as we can when they flash on the video screens on the floor, and some inaccuracies are inevitable. The G.A. Minutes should be consulted for official wording and count.

Updated July 13, 1998

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Committee Reports:

13. Health & Educational Issues

10. Church Orders & Ministry

1. Bills & Overtures

2. GA Procedures

3. Church Polity

4. PCUSA in the 21st century

5. Catechisms & Confessions

6. Catholicity & Ecumenical relations

7. Mission Coordination & Budgets

8. Christian Ed & Curriculum Publishing

9. Theological Issues & Institutions

11. Evangelism

15. Pensions, Benefits & Presbyterian Publishing Corp.

17. GA Nominating committee (GANC)


13. Health & Educational Issues

Abortion-related business
Effects of abortion *Overture 98-13 (Central Florida) This asked the GA "to continue to assert the many statements of the GA about the rights of women (including pre-born women) and including the detrimental effects that abortion may have on women." In committee, a motion to approve as amended (by striking "including pre-born women") received a 23-23-3 tie vote. Since the motion to approve therefore did not pass, a motion to disapprove was automatically sent to plenary as the committee's recommendation. In plenary, this substitute motion was allowed:

"That the ACSWP be directed to assess the current implementation of the GA's policy on abortion and report its findings to the 212th GA (2000)."

When that substitute (which was unrelated to the main motion) was allowed, the debate became chaotic because commissioners did not understand what they were debating or voting on. People at 5 or the 6 microphones simultaneously sought to be recognized to ask questions because they did not understand what was before them. Questions reflected the concern that this was a setup to predetermine the action on overtures requesting review of the implementation of the GA's abortion policy, which would be brought as business later in the report. The motion to substitute passed 307-220. The final vote on the motion was 296-215, so an assessment of GA abortion policy implementation will be done by ACSWP.

Implementation of GA abortion policy
Overture 98-53 (Cincinnati) had requested

    1.  "examine and review current (1992) PCUSA policy on abortion & problem pregnancy in light of the Bible, the BOC, and the 1992 declared policy of the PCUSA.
    2. Provide specific directions for the implementation and upholding of our 1992 declared abortion policy.
    3. Design and implement a system whereby all denominational entities must demonstrate parity in the funding of publications and advocacy efforts reflecting both pro-choice and pro-life perspectives, so as to ensure a fair and balanced representation of our denomination's official policy.
    4. Design and implement a system to ensure a balanced representation on the GA's standing Advocacy Committee for Women's Concerns.
    5. Submit a full report on items 1 through 4 above to the 211th GA (1999) and request approval of the report by that GA."

The committee voted 26-19-1 to recommend the following response:

That the GA "direct the GAC to appoint four if its members to serve on a task force which will annually review the resources produced and/or recommended by GA entities regarding abortion and problem pregnancies. This task force will:

    1. Examine and review current (1992) PCUSA policy on abortion and problem pregnancy in light of the Bible, the BOC, and the 1992 declared policy of the PCUSA.
    2. Consist of two members who affirm the basic view labeled "A" and two who affirm the view labeled "B" in the 1992 PCUSA GA narrative on abortion and problem pregnancies.
    3. Meet annually before or after a regularly scheduled GAC meeting sitting down with a representative of the Women's Ministry Program Area and a representative of the Presbyterians Pro-Life to review all the materials produced and/or recommended by GA entities determining the extent to which the materials "reflect the diversity of positions about problem pregnancies and abortion found herein" (Item IIIB, p 16, also in Minutes, 1992, Part I, p. 373, paragraph 27.143).
    4. submit a full report on Items 1 through 3 to the 212th GA (2000) through the GAC and request approval of the report by that GA."

In plenary a motion was immediately made to "refer 3E [this item] to the ACSWP and that they be directed to assess the current implementation of the GA's policy on abortion and report on its findings to the 212th GA."

This motion to refer was treated as a substitute motion. An amendment to the main motion was moved to strike item 3 and delete the phrase "on items 1 through 3 above" from item 4. This amendment failed 194-302-6.

The 10-min time allowed for the main motion had expired. The vote on having the substitute motion (to refer) become the main motion was about to be taken, but someone objected they had not been allowed to "perfect" the substitute motion. The moderator allowed "perfection" of the substitute which was a motion to also include the response to item I, overture 98-80, in the substitute motion so it would be:

"refer 3E and I [this overture and a similar one, 98-80 (Prospect Hills)] to the ACSWP and that they be directed to assess the current implementation of the GA's policy on abortion and report on its findings to the 212th GA."

This amendment to the substitute passed 386-109-8.

The vote on having the substitute replace the main motion passed 307-202-2. The final vote (to refer them to ACSWP) passed 376-135-4.

Miscellaneous abortion-related business
Overture 98-58 (Baltimore) was approved as amended:

    1. Affirm that all physicians, midwives, and nurse-practitioners who offer reproductive care have a moral obligation and a fiduciary responsibility to advise all new patients who are pregnant or who may become pregnant, of their willingness or unwillingness to provide all legal procedures in their practice of reproductive care, including elective abortion.
    2. Direct the Stated Clerk of the PCUSA to communicate this resolution to the American Medical Assoc, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the American Nurses' Assoc, American Assoc of Public Health, and American Academy of Family Practitioners in support of their professional standard of "informed consent" and request that they continue to uphold this ethical principle in their practice of healthcare services, especially in the area of reproductive healthcare services, including abortions."

This recommendation passed in committee 40-2-6 and was approved in plenary on fairly closely-split voice vote.

Overture 98-49 (Susquehanna Valley) was recommended 40-2-6 by the committee to be approved, asking the GA to:

    1. Remind Presbyterians and other citizens of the US of the actions taken by previous GAs to set forth the compelling reasons for population stabilization through fewer births.
    2. Reaffirm the church's belief in the inestimable worth of every child born into the world, and for this very reason recognize the imperative now to bring human numbers into balance with other creatures, within healthy natural systems, so that all children, present and future, may enjoy a habitat conducive to the realization of their potential under God.
    3. Call upon all Presbyterians and all Presbyterian governing bodies and agencies, especially those concerned with education and support for family and community life, to show, in Christlike manner, respect and appreciation for persons who conscientiously choose not to conceive children; and to avoid all references to these persons that might be taken as indicating that their choice in this regard is selfish, irresponsible, or contrary to Christian faithfulness.
    4. Recognizing and honoring the natural human desire for procreation and its place in God's plan, but recognizing also the compelling need now for fewer births so that God's creation, human and nonhuman, may flourish according to God's intention, declare that both those who choose not to conceive children and those who do choose to conceive should be accorded encouragement and support, respect and honor."

This passed in plenary with no objections.

Overture 98-57 (Baltimore) asking ACSWP to study the merger of Catholic healthcare institutions with non-Catholic ones when curtailment of services would result in imposition of Catholic doctrine passed 39-4-4 in committee and was approved in plenary with no objections.

Overture 98-50 (New Brunswick) asked the GA to

    1. affirm the right of self-determination for the terminally ill;
    2. authorize and direct the GAC, Congregational Ministries Division, to publish and distribute to congregations and middle governing bodies the "Euthanasia Study Materials" it has prepared for study; and
    3. request the ACSWP, in consultation with the Theology and Worship area of the congregational Ministries Division, to initiate a process that will yield recommendations for appropriate public policies on end-of-life counseling."

This was approved in committee 30-9-7.

A minority report signed by 3 commissioners which asked that the 210th GA:

"urge local churches to make use of a variety of study materials from GA entities, and other available resources, and discuss end-of-life issues with reference to the church's life of preaching, ministry, and care in ways that reflect our reformed and theological heritage; and further that the assembly refer consideration of the church's readiness to begin the policy development process to the 213th GA (2001)."

There was a motion to amend the minority report by striking the last line and insert "encourage middle governing bodies to make available to congregations information as to their particular state's law on living wills, advance directives, and euthanasia," but that amendment failed on a voice vote. The motion to substitute the minority report for the majority report passed 279-229-5. The final vote to approve the minority report was 385-116-4.

Youth sexual purity overtures
Overture 98-45 (Holston) asked that the assembly:

    1. affirm to the youth of our denomination the good purpose and blessing of God in the expression of sexuality within the bonds of marriage;
    2. commend to families and congregations of the PCUSA the need to communicate to our children and youth a clear message of sexual purity in relation to Christian discipleship, and to encourage our children and youth to take the step of making personal commitments of sexual purity;
    3. instruct entities of governing bodies of the PCUSA that plan programs for youth, write curricula for youth, or otherwise participate in denominational activities for youth to ensure that all such programs, curricula, and activities conform to the biblical and constitutional standards regarding sexual behavior, and
    4. urge all persons in leadership relationships with youth in our churches to extend the means of God's forgiving grace to those who fall into sexual sin and lead them gently to repentance and to a recommitment to sexual purity as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The commissioner committee recommended approval 26-24-0.

There was a minority report signed by 17 committee members which read:

    1. affirm to the youth of our denomination the good purpose and blessing of God in the expression of sexuality within the bonds of marriage;
    2. commend to families and congregations of the PCUSA the need to communicate to our children and youth a clear message of sexual responsibility as an expression of our discipleship in Christ, and to encourage our children and youth to make personal commitments to sexual responsibility;
    3. encourage families and congregations of the PCUSA to make use of the PCUSA curriculum, God's Gift of Sexuality, and instruct GA staff and entities preparing new youth curriculum and planning youth programs to uphold the Presbyterian ideals of fidelity, chastity, and responsibility in sexual behavior.
    4. urge all church leaders of youth to teach repentance and God's forgiving grace in instances where humanity falls short of those ideals."

In plenary there was a motion to amend the committee's majority report by striking "purity" and inserting "responsibility faithful to biblical and constitutional standards of the PCUSA, as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ." That amendment failed on a voice vote. There was a lot of debate, primarily from youth advisory delegates, saying they didn't want the church promoting a "safe sex" attitude and said it was the place of the church to teach God's will as shown in the Bible and "purity" is the right word. The motion to substitute the minority report failed 246-261. The committee recommendation ("sexual purity") then passed 322-185.

PHEWA (Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association)
39.0082 The committee recommendation 36-7-5 was that in response to this recommendation, the GA approve the following resolution:

"Instruct PHEWA to expand its membership and to include all organizations that desire affiliation with the organization, who will live under the PHEWA/NMD Covenant, who will live under the Memo of Understanding between PHEWA and its networks, and who will work to implement General Assembly policy."

In plenary this passed on a voice vote.

39.0081 The committee recommendation 26-20-1 recommended approval of this recommendation:

"Request that PHEWA and the National Ministry Division live under the Covenant of Agreement for Shared Ministry for a period of five years with the exception that only recognized constituency groups within PHEWA be allowed to voice responsible dissent, and report to the 215th GA (2003) to determine if the agreement is working and best serving the church."

In plenary passed with no objections.

39.0084 The committee 37-7-6 recommended approval of:

"Require PHEWA constituency groups to maintain a minimum membership of fifty in order to continue membership in the organization. Failure to meet this requirement would cause PHEWA to review the viability of the group and determine if it would continue to be a constituent group under the PHEWA umbrella."

In plenary passed with no objections.

Overture 98-12 (Central Florida) The committee 39-0-9 recommended that this overture (asking the GA to investigate host groups to determine if any are unjustifiably denying membership to other Presbyterian organizations and, if so, to stop funding as well as other support thereto) was answered by the action on 39.0080 and.0081 (listed above).

39.0083 The committee 39-11-5 recommended approval.

"Increase the current funding to the National Ministries Division Office to provide adequate staffing, office space, and administrative support for PHEWA to accommodate new networks and that the process of providing financial subsidies to the constituent groups be spread upon the Minutes of the PHEWA annual report each year and that constituent groups work toward becoming financially independent and self-sustaining."

Passed on voice vote in plenary.

National Network of Presbyterian College Women (NNPCW)
CR 98-10 asked that the "PCUSA withdraw sponsorship and funding to the NNPCW, inviting them to organize as a special organization of Presbyterians." It was amended in the committee to read "PCUSA withdraw sponsorship and funding to the NNPCW, inviting them to fully integrate with Campus Ministries, or to organize as a special organization of Presbyterians." This resolution as amended was approved in committee 24-20-2. In plenary there was a motion to "refer CR 98-10 to the National Ministries Division of GAC to study placement, staffing, funding, and mission and bring recommendations to the 211th GA (1999)." After some debate, it was then moved to postpone consideration of the item until action was taken on overture 98-64 (which called for full funding of the organization via a line item in the budget). After some debate, the motion to postpone to a definite time failed on voice vote. The motion to refer was ruled to have failed on a voice vote. A division was called for and the motion to refer failed 254-274. After additional debate, the committee recommendation to withdraw sponsorship and funding passed 306-217 (or maybe it was 308-217).

Overture 98-64 (National Capital) had asked the GA "to provide a line item in the PCUSA mission budget for the NNPCW, with full funding--enough money for a staff associate, a young adult intern, programming, and two meetings per year for the network's coordinating committee--for its work involving young women in college in future years." The committee recommended 26-18-2 to disapprove the overture. When they came to that item in plenary, the GA moderator ruled it was moot in light of the assembly's previous action on the CR. The moderator's ruling was challenged, but was sustained on a 321-183-1 vote.

At the conclusion of that Friday evening session (about 10:30 p.m.) the GA moderator took a moment of "personal privilege" to explain to the body that he was allowing certain commissioners points of personal privilege, and a demonstration in support of NNPCW. Women with candles lined up in front of the platform and asked people to stand and join them in singing "This little light of mine." The words appeared on the screen and Isaiah Jones, the GA song leader, led everyone in singing. A group (which included Jane Spahr and other known supporters of gay/lesbian ordination) held hands across the back of the commissioner seating area during the song. Then 2 commissioners were recognized (personal privilege) and used it (contrary to what was said to be allowed) to speak in favor of NNPCW and against the GA's action. The moderator of the GA said the only way to bring it back as business would be for someone who voted on the prevailing side to move reconsideration, and if they voted to reconsider they would take the matter up Saturday morning, because it was too late to continue Friday night. Jim Mead (GA vice-moderator) moved to reconsider. The motion passed 282-236. A commissioner used personal privilege to protest the demonstration and the two points of personal privilege that were really debate.

On Saturday morning the committee moderator placed item 3H (the overture on NNPCW) before the body. The GA moderator requested that 2E (the CR on NNPCW) be moved instead. Jim Mead (GA vice moderator) was immediately recognized and moved "to refer CR 98-10 and all related items to a 7-member task force appointed by the GAC, to include the Moderator and vice-Moderator of the 210th GA, which would evaluate the resources, publications and programs of the NNPCW to ensure consistency to Scripture and the constitution and submit a complete report to the 1999 GA and further that funding will be continued at current levels for the next 12 months." [that wording is close, but may not be exact--they didn't leave it on the screen long enough] This was treated as a motion to refer (not as a substitute motion as the previous motions to refer had been) and the motion to refer was approved 314-183-3. The moderator asked permission for a personal word and said questions had been raised about allowing the demonstration. He said he did so for one reason: this group and many others have not had the opportunity to express their pain in the way that pain of gay and lesbian people or of the pro-life people has been expressed (though the Moderator seemed to suggest that pro-life people have demonstrated at assemblies, as homosexual supporters have done, this is not true; commissioners came to us privately and thanked us for not engaging in such demonstrations which are out of order in Presbyterian polity). "I did not know what they were going to say. I did not know the motion to reconsider would be made." There were then numerous points of personal privilege with people protesting the process and manipulation.

Someone moved to reconsider another action so they could order the funding of military chaplains. It was ruled that since that action took place more than 24 hours previously, it would require a motion to suspend the rules which needs a 2/3 vote. A motion to suspend the rules for that purpose was made, but failed 158-309-15. This was followed by more points of personal privilege, most of them protesting the abuse of the process by the platform. [I can't find it in my notes, but both the GA moderator and Stated Clerk from the platform during plenary expressed their disappointment in the GA's initial action regarding NNPCW and asserted that it was a worthwhile program.]

10. Church Orders & Ministry

43.0022ff on Standards of Ethical Conduct was approved as amended

Milwaukee overture to delete G-6.0106b

Overture 98-37 (Milwaukee) which called for striking G-6.0106b from the BOO was disapproved while approving the comment "It is our hope that dialogue can, will, and must continue on this topic." The committee's recommendation was approved in plenary with no discussion and no objections. There was a motion later the same morning to reconsider this item, but it failed on a strong voice vote.

Authoritative Interpretation (referral from 1997 assembly)

Overture 97-24 (Chicago) this overture to last year's GA had said that the BOO inclusiveness standards did not allow exclusion based on membership in a category and the 1978 and 1979 definitive guidance was therefore erroneous. Last year's committee received an advice and counsel memorandum from Women's Ministries that suggested wording for an authoritative interpretation which was referred for study and came back to GA this year. According to Note 4888 by PCUSA NEWS on June 21, 1998, written by Jerry Van Marter, "The authoritative interpretation of G-6.0106b and G-4.0403 was proposed by the Advisory Committee on Women's Concerns in response to a 1997 overture from Chicago Presbytery. It passed 355-179 and reaffirms what has been implied in "The Book of Order"--that candidates for ordination are judged individually and not on the basis of their age, race, class, gender and sexual orientation." The recommendation of the committee was to answer the overture by the following:

RESOLVED, That the 210th GA (1998) approve the following authoritative interpretation of G-6.0106 and G-4.0403. "Standing in the tradition of breaking down the barriers erected to exclude people based on their condition such as age, race, class, gender and sexual orientation, the PCUSA commits itself not to exclude anyone categorically in considering those called to ordained service in the church but to consider the lives and behaviors of candidates as individuals."

(An amendment that this be "added to the authoritative interpretation of the 205th GA [1993]" failed 247-277. An amendment to change the last line to "..commits itself not to exclude anyone from membership" failed 133-395. After the time limit allowed for the main motion had expired, there was a question whether this was in addition to or in place of the previous authoritative interpretation. The GA moderator answered "My understanding is it is in addition to." The wording without amendment was passed 355-179.

Overture 98-59 (Baltimore) asked that a Special Committee on Ecclesiastical Disobedience (regarding more light churches and withholding of per capita) be established. The Assembly Committee recommended that the overture be disapproved and approve the comment "We urge everyone to honor, respect, and abide by our Constitution. We also urge mutual forbearance." The committee recommendation was approved with no debate and no objection.

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1. Bills & Overtures

There may be a number of protests regarding the demonstration and manipulation of commissioners Friday night related to the reconsideration of funding for National Network of Presbyterian College Women (NNPCW). Only 6 protests (5 acceptable) had been filed as of the last verbal B&O report, but the B&O moderator said he expected more.

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2. GA Procedures (handles the per capita budget, GA standing rules, and other matters)

Standing Rules

Per Capita

Nominating Committee (GANC)

Special Committee on Relationships of Accountability

Other business

Standing Rules:

11.0059e approved in consent agenda. Amended standing rule C.4.d. to give one signer of a Commissioners' Resolution the same rights as an overture advocate in a committee.

12.0123 approved in consent agenda. Amended standing rule B.5.d. to include "Communications and resource material provide comment or advice on business already under consideration by the assembly and shall neither contain nor constitute business to be considered by the assembly."

12.0125 approved in consent agenda. Amended standing rule B.8. to make it harder to have a special committee formed. Instead, the work would be done by an existing corporation or entity under its assigned responsibilities whenever possible.

11.0059-.0059a was DISAPPROVED on voice vote with no discussion, no objections. This would have required business in to consist only of business which developed within 60 days of the assembly and would have required commissioners' resolutions to have signatures of 8 commissioners from at least 4 different presbyteries. (currently 2 signatures are needed).

12.0124 was approved AS AMENDED on voice vote with no discussion, no objections. "All overtures that have financial implications for current or future years' budgets must be delivered in writing to the Stated Clerk postmarked no later than 60 days prior to the convening of the GA. Overtures with financial implications not received within the designated time limit shall not be considered, but shall be returned to the originating governing body." The previous deadline was 45 days before a GA. The reports had requested to change that to 120 days before, but the committee amended it to 60 days before.

Per Capita

Overture 98-41 (Santa Fe; Jim Collie was overture advocate) per capita approved AS AMENDED on voice vote with no discussion, no objection. Resolved that the 210th GA do the following:

    Affirm that per capita apportionment provides for the vital life and for the open decision-making process of our governing bodies and so constitutes an essential element of the mission of Jesus Christ through the PCUSA.
    Express its strong belief that the undergirding of Christ's mission through the per capita apportionment system "give[s] meaning to the interdependent nature of Presbyterian polity" (BOO G-9.0404).
    Believe that individual dissent and protest are important rights that are defined in the BOO (G-9.0303 and G-9.0304), and also express its determination that the withholding of per capita by governing bodies is not an appropriate exercise of dissent or protest.
    Urge every presbytery to meet its full apportionment on a timely basis each year pursuant to G-9.0404d, and call upon presbyteries to make every attempt to make up past arrears.
    Instruct the Moderator of this GA, and each Moderator annually hereafter, to communicate with each presbytery failing to meet its apportionment the information that they place an unfair burden upon fellow Presbyterians and other presbyteries to make up the difference.

[Note: There were two additional items in the original overture which the committee deleted:

x. Instruct the Stated Clerk of the GA to report at this assembly, and annually hereafter, those presbyteries in arrears at the close of the period of receiving payments and the sums involved.

y. Advise commissioners constituting any Presbyterian assembly and elected persons serving on any of the entities of the assembly representing presbyteries that have not met their per capita apportionment that, as matters of Christian integrity and conscience, they should not participate in debate and discussion or vote on any matter affecting the expenditure of per capita funds.]

Nominating Committee (GANC)

Overture 98-46 (Greater Atlanta) regarding GA nominating committee was DISAPPROVED. This would have required:

    report to each person whose endorsement is received on a PCUSA GA nominating committee endorsement for nomination form that their endorsement form has been received and they will be considered by the GA nominating committee or, if they will not be considered, to state the reason (e.g. endorsement received after publicized cut-off date);
    ensure that the name and all accompanying background information and references of each endorsed individual for each position is provided in writing to the entire GA nominating committee, with no individual or subcommittee having the power to prevent an endorsed individual from receiving consideration, so that every potential nominee endorsed by a session or presbytery receives equal and full consideration by the GA nominating committee."

[Note: This was to correct the problem of the "synod representative" acting as gatekeeper for nominees from that synod, the problem being that one individual, the "synod rep," can effectively block someone's nomination. Presbyterian polity tends to place power in committees, not individuals. Presbyterian polity does not consider individuals to be "representatives." Although the BOO G-13.0111 stipulates the GANC will have one member from each synod, it does not stipulate that that person "represents" that synod or has any special powers related to that synod. Jim Baskin, GA nominating committee (GANC) chair, was asked numerous questions by the assembly committee which became frustrated by his indirect answers. Finally a committee member told him to write down on the flip chart who receives the endorsement forms. They are received by Valerie Small in Louisville who copies them and sends them 5 (6) places:

    GANC member from the endorsed person's synod
    staff of GA entity for which people will be nominated
    GANC member who is liaison to the entity for which they are endorsed (e.g. maybe the Synod of the Northeast GANC person is the liaison to the Board of Pensions, so that person receives endorsement forms for the BOP positions)
    synod of residence
    presbytery of residence
    (committee on representation if the person is minority, disabled, less than 26 years old, etc.)

The rest of the GANC receives only a list of names and identifying categories (e.g. white male clergy).

They said the check and balance preventing the "synod rep" from blocking a potential nominee is that those other people receive the forms. If the synod rep is also the liaison for that entity, only one person on the GANC receives the form; otherwise two GANC members receive it. He said sometimes the GA entity tells the GANC who that entity would like to have and the GANC nominates those people!

When asked if the full GANC gets the recommendations, he said "No one but the synod person gets the confidential appraisals." Following the rather confrontational discussion, one commissioner who was a leader and who had been asking good questions appeared to change his mind and said he agreed the synod rep did function as a gatekeeper, but that it was a good kind of gatekeeping for the good of the church. Shortly after that speech the committee voted 36-7-3 to recommend disapproval.] In plenary the committee recommendation of disapproval passed with no discussion and no objections.

Special Committee on Relationships of Accountability

42.0061 -.0085 these were the recommendations from the Special Committee on Relationships of Accountability, all of which were DISAPPROVED. The Special Committee recommended adding a paragraph to the BOO, recommended defining "covenant relationships" and "corresponding relationships," and recommended giving the Stated Clerk specified responsibilities related to Presbyterian-related organizations (primarily data gathering and encouraging conversation among the organizations).

Disapproval of all the recommendations was recommended 23-19-4 by the committee. A minority report went to the floor signed by 7 members which essentially asked for the last section giving the Stated Clerk some responsibilities to collect info on groups, foster dialogue and conversation, and report back to the 1999 GA. The minority report failed 214-309. The final vote passed on a voice vote.

Other business: G.A. dates, and more on per capita

11.0083 approved 213th GA (2003) in Denver, May 24-31, 2003.

11.0084 approved 214th GA (2004) in Richmond, Virginia June 27-July 3, 2004.

report 2. Per capita for 1999 approved to be same as for 1998 ($4.77). Uncollected per capita for 1998 was reported to be $207,772 ($400,000 had been budgeted.) Uncollected per capita for 1999 was budgeted at $349,185.

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3. Church Polity

Votes of presbyteries on constitutional amendments

12.0126 All constitutional amendments voted on by the presbyteries were approved EXCEPT:

A. Fidelity & integrity 59-114-0
B5. regarding additional questions to candidates for ordination for the ministry of the Word and Sacrament 57-116-0
D. regarding collection of per capita 80-91-0
E. to add the responsibility of dealing with issues of domestic violence 57-115-1
G. regarding termination of the parish assoc relationships when the pulpit is vacant 83-90-0

Overtures on changing means of authoritative interpretation

Overtures 98-10, 98-17, 98-35 which would have changed the authority of the GA PJC or GA to issue authoritative interpretation of the BOO were DISAPPROVED with a comment reviewing the current process for BOO interpretation and commending "to the church the suitability of our current system for determining constitutional law for the PCUSA." The GA voted 485-23 to disapprove the overtures and approve the comment.

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4. PCUSA in the 21st century

This was a discussion-only committee not allowed to bring any recommendations! There was a motion from the floor to have the same kind of committee next year regarding some area of theology which passed without objection on a voice vote.

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5. Catechisms & Confessions

New catechisms commended; contemporary Nicene recommended; new translation of Heidelberg disapproved

41.0017 was approved AS AMENDED (minor amendment) "Belonging to God: A First Catechism" and the "Study Catechism" and to commend them to the church for use in its ministries of teaching and worship. Passed 408-107.

38.0033-.0035 approved AS AMENDED WITH COMMENT a recommendation to send a proposed amendment to the presbyteries to strike the current version of the Nicene Creed in the BOC and replace it with the specified "contemporary translation." This change would require a 2/3 vote in the pbys and must then be approved and enacted by the 1999 GA. [It was approved in plenary with no discussion and no objection.]

Overture 98-34 requesting a new translation of the Heidelberg Catechism for inclusion in the BOC was DISAPPROVED. (The Assembly committee had recommended 35-10-2 to have an ecumenical study committee report back in three years. On the floor an amendment to specify at least 3 ecumenical representatives must be from the Reformed tradition passed 281-215. The amended recommendation then FAILED 222-292. Someone then moved to "disapprove" the overture. This disapproval passed 302-215.

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6. Catholicity & Ecumenical relations

Overture 98-36 (Plains and Peaks) to withdraw from COCU was disapproved 325-168.

11.0072-.0073 to continue the Special Committee on COCU was passed 324-147.

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7. Mission Coordination & Budgets (handles the mission budget)

20.0049H John J. Detterick was approved as the Executive Director of the GAC for a 4-year term effective Aug 12, 1998.

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8. Christian Ed & Curriculum Publishing

Preschool Sex Education materials

21.0155-.0156 sex ed curriculum for preschoolers (with guidebooks for parents and congregations) The committee voted 29-16-1 that the response (that the materials will be available later this year) be approved. There was a minority report signed by 15 persons which gave examples of how statements in the adult guidebook conflict with scripture, the confessions, and church policy and asked that this minority report be placed in the guidebooks as a preamble and "that the text be revised to reflect the authority of Scripture, the guidance of our Confessions, and the recent policy statements of the PCUSA prior to subsequent printings." The motion to replace the committee report with the minority report failed by ONE VOTE 264-265. The committee recommendation then passed 291-243. Someone said they thought that vote on the committee recommendation was to close debate, so the vote was repeated and was 288-249.

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9. Theological Issues & Institutions

Building Community Among Strangers

Commissioners' Resolution (CR) 98-14 asked the GA to

    Thank the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) for its concern about the challenge of "Building Community among Strangers"; and
    Respectfully request that it pursue study of that challenge by developing a new study paper more clearly centered around Christ as Lord of all the world and its only hope of reconciliation.

The commissioner committee recommended disapproval with the following comment:

    To direct the ACSWP to continue their work on "Building Community among Strangers," incorporating the broadest theological diversity in preparation of the final policy paper.
    The committee commends the authors for their concern.

(What was adopted by the G.A.) On the floor, a motion to amend the comment to bring it more in line with the original CR PASSED which read

"1. To direct the ACSWP to continue their work on "Building Community Among Strangers." producing a draft policy paper that 1) is clearly centered around the confessional and biblical teaching about Christ as Lord of all the world and its only hope of reconciliation and 2) embodies a tone of mutual respect for differing opinions within our church."

Debate on the amendment included quotations from the paper "it's up to us to choose how we read the Scriptures" and whether to "hold on to a jealous tribal god" and saying the paper is not in conformity to the confessions of the church and is hostile to missionaries. After debate was closed (on all pending questions, i.e. on the amendment and the main motion) there was a question that the amendment said POLICY document and Donald Shriver (vice chair of ACSWP which wrote the study paper and is drafting the policy) said the amendment should read STUDY document since what they have is the study document.

There was another question from the floor that the amendment text on the screen says POLICY document. They changed the amendment wording on the screen to STUDY document (even though the mover of the amendment obviously intended to affect the POLICY development now underway). They said the final policy paper means the final paper now in development which will come back to next year's GA. The amendment passed 278-236. Shriver said the study process is 1 year old and GA commissioners got a copy last year. Commissioners got a copy late in GA this year (after complaining that it was not made available to them). Shriver said the task force that approved this had its last meeting already and a new study paper would have full costs. There was a question from the floor about how a comment could increase costs. The motion to disapprove the CR while approving the comment as amended from the floor passed 418-86.

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11. Evangelism

22.0077-.0078 the response to the referral was approved. This is the response:

"Response: Evangelism and Church Development (ECD) continues to encourage women to consider serving as organizing pastors for new church developments. In 1997, six women attended an event sponsored by ECD to assist ministers of Word and Sacrament to discern their potential as new church development pastors. The ECD assisted sixteen women from new immigrant communities to participate in the Presbyterian Women's Gathering, July 1997. Support continued for the National Network of Presbyterian College Women, which seeks to reach out to young women, enriching their spiritual life and encouraging faith-based action for justice for all people. The ECD works collaboratively with the Women's Ministries program area. This task has been incorporated as a regular part of our work."

There is a clear thrust toward using mission funds designated for evangelism to support special interests; in this case preferential support for groups whose missions exceed the boundaries of Christian orthodoxy and the constitutional standards regarding sexual behavior.

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15. Pensions, Benefits & Presbyterian Publishing Corp.

29.0106-.0119 response to referral on relief of conscience. Committee recommended 42-2-1 to approve the Board's response and approved the comment:

"That the Board of Pensions continue to communicate to all sessions and pastors the specific description of the relief of conscience program, including details on how to enroll in it."

The comment was read aloud in plenary. It passed on voice vote without controversy.

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17. GA Nominating committee (GANC)

Only 2 nominations were challenged. Both were for the Advocacy Committee for Women's Concerns. Both of the challengers were more evangelical than the GANC's nominees.

Mary Ann Eschbach (WFE) was challenged by Emily McColl (WFC), but the GANC's candidate (Eschbach) won 254-223.

Robin Pugh (WFE) was challenged by Jennifer Wilcox (WFC). The challenger (Wilcox) defeated the committee's nominee 257-242 so Wilcox was elected.

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