From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 15:18:57


                      RECONCILIATION REPORT 
                          by Alexa Smith 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--A new committee has been created to deal with the report 
of the General Assembly Special Committee on Reconciliation with the 
Presbyterian Lay Committee at this year's General Assembly at the request 
of Moderator Robert W. Bohl. 
     The committee will be in place by the end of this week. 
     The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) voted to 
recommend creation of the committee to the stated clerk during its May 
31-June 2 meeting here.  Stated Clerk James E.  Andrews approved that 
recommendation June 2. 
     Members of this additional committee -- known as The Assembly 
Committee on the Report on Reconciliation -- will be assigned randomly and 
anonymously from the already existing 17 Assembly committees. The 
committee's moderator and vice-moderator will be appointed by Bohl. Both 
selection processes are established in the standing rules. 
     "Now is the time for the General Assembly to take a position ... on 
this," said Bohl, who said five Assembly committees have attempted 
reconciliation work with the Lay Committee since 1968 -- and all five 
efforts have failed, with thousands of dollars spent. 
     Bohl said Presbyterian Lay Committee mailings countering agreements 
made in the final meeting of the Reconciliation Committee "blindsided" the 
committee, and the issues raised in the reconciliation process merit full 
Assembly consideration. 
     "This has gone on so long. ... Let the General Assembly make up its 
mind ... and get on," Bohl told COGA.  "I really think the church is 
waiting for us to do something. ... 
     "What I hear as the message around the country is:  We are weary about 
this," Bohl said, pushing for creation of a single committee to deal with 
the Reconciliation Committee's report rather than keeping it part of the 
already heavy agenda of the General Assembly Committee on Mission 
Priorities and Budgets. 
     The 51-member Assembly committee is anticipated to include 21 elders, 
20 ministers, nine youth advisory delegates and one theological student 
advisory delegate. 
      "After the initial report of the Special Committee was written," 
Andrews said in a prepared OGA statement, "the Lay Committee distributed 
extensive mailings expressing views in opposition to the report of the 
Special Committee on Reconciliation, leading the Special Committee to 
revise its report and to mail it to sessions as well as commissioners. 
     "These developments make it necessary to establish a committee with no 
other responsibility except this one issue." 
     General Assembly Council executive James D. Brown also told COGA now 
is the time to "not just duck and run. 
     "[This is the time to] hunker down.  Settle in.  And really engage the 
issues," he said, saying recent Lay Committee mailings have accelerated 
pressure within the church.  "I agree with Bob [Bohl]. The Lay Committee is 
not where our church is.  But the Lay Committee is determined to test 
     In his remarks to COGA, Bohl also reiterated the Reconciliation 
Committee's disagreement with the contents and recommendations in a Lay 
Committee document, "Honoring the Boundaries of Reformed Faith and 
     Bohl forwarded the document to the GAC, the General Assembly 
Nominating Committee and COGA as part of the Reconciliation Committee's 
work, highlighting for COGA issues related to its jurisdiction, such as 
funding of ecumenical work and nominating committee procedures. 
     COGA member Pamela J. Sharick of Youngstown, Ohio, said her experience 
with local churches persuaded her to vote for a focused Assembly committee. 
"Local churches are clamoring for the Presbyterian Church to be less 
defensive, less reactive ... to have a prepared response," she said, adding 
that she would not like to see one-third of the Assembly's committees 
"bogged down" with business related to the Presbyterian Lay Committee. 
     COGA member Brian D. Ellison added, "By doing this, you're making this 
a very, very big issue ... [maybe] the issue of the Assembly.  And it could 
mean you lose. 
     "The amount of attention it gets will be much greater now because of 
this action." 
     COGA voted unanimously to recommend the formation of this 18th 
committee to the stated clerk.  Other business related to the committee's 
work may be referred to it at the discretion of the General Assembly 
Committee on Bills and Overtures.  

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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