From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Review Committee Sifts Data, Identifies Issues
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
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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