From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
LISTENING SESSIONS PLANNED FOR COUNCIL MEETINGS,
05 May 1996 07:32:50
95013 LISTENING SESSIONS PLANNED FOR COUNCIL MEETINGS,
MEETING WITH RENEWAL GROUP CANCELED
by Alexa Smith
DALLAS--Listening sessions will be held at the end of each General
Assembly Council (GAC) meeting this year.
That decision was made by the council's executive committee
Jan. 6 after a lengthy discussion on how major church policy
questions get discussed -- particularly in settings that risk
The committee's decision effectively canceled a planned Jan.
20 gathering of General Assembly staff members and leaders of the
Presbyterian Renewal Network (PRN), a coalition of 13 self-
described "renewal" organizations in the church.
PRN had proposed an agenda for the gathering that included
conversation about two network-produced papers: "Homosexuality and
the PC(USA)" and "PHEWA and PW versus Renewal Groups and the
PC(USA)." PRN also proposed the denomination's moderator reflect
on presentations built around the two case studies.
The new listening sessions are to include General Assembly
staff, GAC members and any individuals and groups who wish to
participate. The council will review the effectiveness of the
listening sessions at year's end.
"These are hearings ... no implied promise of action of any
kind," said executive committee member the Rev. D. William McIvor
of Spokane, Wash., who argued that a "general invitation" prohibits
"self-selected" groups from obtaining any kind of privileged status
for policy conversations.
GAC executive director the Rev. James D. Brown told the
executive committee it may be problematic to meet with some
coalitions "because pressure is applied [by them]" while "others
in the church are not invited" in on the conversation.
Brown said, too, that reconciliation efforts under way now
with the Presbyterian Lay Committee (PLC) focus on some of the same
concerns PRN has raised -- and the PLC is part of the Renewal
Leadership of both the PRN and denominational staff met for
prayer and conversation during a meal last fall as part of the
network's semi-annual meeting. At that time the Jan. 20 date was
But Brown told the executive committee the Staff Leadership
Team (SLT) had "become uneasy" about the "quasi-governance" tone
of the proposed January agenda and said he believes the church's
elected leadership needs to participate rather than just staff.
Executive Committee member Richard M. Schlobohm of Mill
Valley, Calif., said there is not a better way to "alienate staff"
than to invite groups to "castigate" them -- and that to "openly
consider effectiveness of staff" in such gatherings goes outside
denominational personnel policies.
"It's got to be a civil, or Christian, gathering," he said.
The Rev. Cliff Kirkpatrick, director of the Worldwide
Ministries Division, said he did not believe the primary intention
of the network is to press staff issues. But, he cautioned, "it
is a very slippery slope" when conversations about staff get under
Moderator the Rev. Robert W. Bohl said the alternative of an
open forum is "much healthier" because it does not cater to one
constituency and does not allow any one group to assume a quasi-
# # #
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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