From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Review Committee Sifts Data, Identifies Issues

Date 04 May 1996 20:51:43


95463     Review Committee Sifts Data, Identifies Issues 
                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--In a Dec. 14-16 meeting that was mostly open to the press 
but off the record, the General Assembly's Committee on Review (CR) began 
sifting through the mountains of data it has accumulated during what CR 
chair Jay Poppinga called the "fact-gathering phase" of its work. 
     At the conclusion of its off-the-record discussions, the committee 
identified a number of issues it will address in its report to the 208th 
General Assembly (1996).  The committee divided itself into four working 
groups to frame its responses and recommendations to those issues. 
     Prior to the meeting, representatives of three publications who sent 
reporters to the meeting -- the Presbyterian News Service, "The 
Presbyterian Outlook" and "The Presbyterian Layman" -- agreed to the open 
but off-the-record format so the committee could, in Poppinga's words, 
"freely discuss and explore emerging issues without formative and tentative 
judgments being quoted as if they were our final determinations." 
     The four working groups (their membership) and the issues they will 
     * Management issues (Betty Lou Stull, the Rev. William Stewart, George 
McDonald, the Rev.  Alan Landes): management of the General Assembly 
Council (GAC); management of the Office of the General Assembly; management 
of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation; the relationship between the 
stated clerk's office and the GAC executive director's office; management 
of mission priorities and staff workload; time management to allow for 
adequate review, evaluation and "visioning" and how those are done; fiscal 
     * Relational issues (Harry Robson, the Rev. Robert Nicholson, the Rev. 
Ana Braulio, Betty Jane Crago, Gordon Jones): relationships between the 
GAC, synods and presbyteries; relationships between the GAC and sessions 
and congregations; relationships between General Assembly staff persons and 
elected representatives on Assembly-level committees; the role and function 
of Committees on Representation; the General Assembly nominating process; 
implementation of the overture calling for Assembly-level committee members 
to be elected directly by presbyteries from nominations by sessions (the 
"Western Colorado overture"). 
     * Operational issues (Jean Elliott, the Rev. Lois Wilson, Corina 
Chavez, the Rev. Steve Bomely): biennial General Assemblies; how to 
organize ongoing internal review of GAC structure and programs; developing 
a more realistic timeline for future Committees on Review. 
     * Missiological issues (Buddy Choy, the Rev. Maitland Evans, the Rev. 
Robert Lorimer, Betty Moore): the purpose, vision and theological 
foundation for the work of the GAC; issues of inclusiveness and diversity; 
consideration of the 1995 commissioner's resolution, which was referred to 
the CR, asking that it "review thoroughly the focus and concern of all 
General Assembly structures to determine if they are vital to the preaching 
and teaching of the gospel and the building up of congregations. ..."  
     During its meeting, the CR talked with General Assembly moderator Marj 
Carpenter, who said, "The church is in a lot better shape than most of us 
realize."  She cited as specific examples the enthusiasm of Presbyterians 
she has encountered in Alaska, Puerto Rico and last summer's Presbyterian 
Youth Triennium. 
     Carpenter said she has heard "unease, particularly in the Presbyterian 
Center [in Louisville] that you're going to restructure again."  She said 
people in presbyteries have expressed much support for the Western Colorado 
overture's representation proposals.  "However," she added, "I think a 
bigger problem is that after they elect their representatives they never 
give them a chance to speak when they come back from national meetings." 
     The moderator said, "They're all frantic about what we're going to do 
next summer in Albuquerque about homosexuality."  She said the far left and 
the far right are both busy organizing "while most of us, who are in the 
middle, are wondering what's going to happen."  Carpenter said most of what 
she hears in the church "is a lot of anger that we have to keep addressing 
this, tearing ourselves up every few years." 
     Carpenter's most impassioned plea was that the CR not tamper with the 
practice of General Assembly moderators appointing the members of the 
General Assembly Nominating Committee.  "A lot of people feel like the 
moderator belongs to them in a way no other General Assembly official 
does," she explained, "and so they trust moderatorial appointments, 
particularly on the nominating committee." 
     The CR will hear from last year's moderator, the Rev. Robert W. Bohl, 
at its next meeting Jan.  14-16 in Louisville. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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