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GAC Holds Pre-Assembly Meeting
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15 Jun 1998 20:53:53
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General Assembly Council Holds Pre-Assembly Meeting
by Jerry Van Marter
CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Though its meeting was dominated by the election of John
Detterick as its new executive director, the General Assembly Council (GAC)
addressed a wide range of issues at its June 10-12 meeting here just prior
to the 210th General Assembly.
Frank Diaz honored for service as interim executive director
The Council convened with dinner Tuesday night and a farewell reception
for the Rev. Frank Diaz, who is about to complete a two-year stint as
interim executive director for the Council. Diaz, a former associate for
administration in the GAC office, was pressed into service as interim
director when the 1996 General Assembly refused to confirm the Rev. James
D. Brown for a second four-year term. Diaz' term in office will conclude
after the expected confirmation of John Detterick, president of the Board
of Pensions, as the new executive director by the upcoming 210th General
Assembly here. A number of church leaders praised Diaz at the dessert
reception for his calming influence during the turmoil following Brown's
rejection. Diaz said his guiding principle has been to lift up the
Lordship of Jesus Christ. "As long as we proclaim Jesus as Lord and
Savior, everything else falls into place," Diaz said with customary
Controversial changes in confirmation process for division
Seeking to further empower the office of the executive director, as was
recommended by the Arthur Anderson management consulting group, the Council
voted to propose that ministry division directors not be submitted to the
General Assembly for confirmation.
The proposed change to the Assembly's Organization for Mission is
certain to be hotly debated on the floor of the Assembly.
Those who supported the proposal argued that while the executive
director is accountable to the Assembly, division directors are more
accountable to the executive director and the council as staff officers.
Opponents of the change argued that by not submitting key staff
appointments to the Assembly for confirmation, trust between the Council
and the church will be further eroded.
The Council defeated a motion that the executive director be empowered
to select division directors from among candidates put forward by search
Nearly 200 missionary appointments approved
The Worldwide Ministries Division Committee approved the appointment of
116 mission personnel and mission volunteers.
The committee also approved the extension or reappointment of 69
The Council celebrated the retirement of five Presbyterian missionaries
who have served a total of 106 years on behalf of the Presbyterian Church
Council seeks to beef up stewardship education efforts
Recognizing that several reports and studies underway within the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) point to the importance of stewardship in the
life and work of congregations, the Congregational Ministries Division
Committee approved the formation of a Stewardship Consulting Work Group.
The work group will work in conjunction with the division's Stewardship
Education Team to assist in the evaluation and planning of stewardship
education strategies for the Presbyterian Church.
Record turnout expected for this summer's Youth Triennium
The Rev. Ed Craxton, associate director for Christian education, said
division officials are gearing up for what promises to be a record turnout
for this summer's Presbyterian Youth Triennium gathering. Craxton said
more than 6,000 Presbyterian young people are expected to attend the July
event on the campus of Purdue University in Indiana.
Changing face of mission in Europe explored
The Worldwide Ministries Division Committee spent much of its time
together exploring issues of life and mission in Europe.
The Rev. Duncan Hanson, area coordinator for Europe in the division,
outlined eight "current critical realities" that inform the Presbyterian
Church's mission activities in Europe: the critical importance of
ethnicity, which transcends national identity; religion as an expression of
ethnic identity; the reemergence of war as an instrument of political
change; the replacement of the Iron Curtain with the "Green Curtain," which
separates the economically self-sufficient countries from the economically
less viable; the influx of immigrants into Europe, a region that has
historically sent immigrants to other parts of the world; the incredible
pace of change in the region during the last 10 years; the inability of
international institutions, including the church, to keep up with those
changes; and the precariousness of several of the former Soviet republics,
with the potential for social and political chaos.
Line of credit extended to Knoxville College
The Council approved a joint recommendation from its Technology and
Finance Office Committee and National Ministries Division Committee to
guarantee a $100,000 line-of-credit for financially troubled Knoxville
College in Tennessee.
The 123-year-old historically black college has been plagued by
mismanagement and financial trouble for a number of years. New leadership
in the last year has begun to turn the situation around at Knoxville
College, and the line-of-credit is needed, college officials say, in order
to bring the school into compliance with requirements for reestablishing
its accreditation, which was lost last year.
Memorial service scheduled during the Assembly for Sue Whitford
Stated Clerk the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick announced that a memorial
service will be held for Suzanne Park Whitford on Tuesday, June 16, during
the meeting of the General Assembly. Whitford, who served the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.) with distinction for many years, most recently as executive
presbyter for Alaska Presbytery, died of a heart attack while on her way to
Charlotte to attend this Assembly. Her husband, Bob, requested a memorial
service here because, he said, "the Presbyterian Church was Sue's family."
Group to explore keeping the Sabbath
Upon recommendation of its Congregational Ministries Division
Committee, the Council voted to establish a Work Group on Sabbath Keeping.
"As Americans, we are no longer a nation which sets aside the seventh
day to observe the Sabbath," the prospectus for the work group states. "As
Presbyterians, we are no longer a church committed to Sabbath keeping.
However, a renewed interest in the Fourth Commandment is being sensed
throughout our denomination....Overworked and overwrought Presbyterians are
yearning to experience the rest, renewal and reorientation Sabbath keeping
The last time the General Assembly addressed the issue of Sabbath
keeping was in 1958.
Presbyterian Foundation launches new banking subsidiary
"There never has been a better year in terms of income and the ability
of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Foundation to support the mission of
the whole church," Foundation trustee Phil Young told the Council today.
Young, who is synod executive of the Synod of the Pacific, outlined
plans for the New Covenant Trust, a wholly-owned banking subsidiary of the
Foundation, which will enable the Foundation to greatly expand its
financial activities, Young said.
The chartering papers ("deliverance") for the New Covenant Trust are
before this Assembly for approval and have been the subject of intense
discussions as the Council has sought assurances that Foundation activities
will continue to be thoroughly integrated into the work of the Council.
The Council approved an agreement between its executive committee and
Foundation officials clarifying the relationship between the trust, the
Foundation and GAC.
New presbytery international partnerships approved
The Worldwide Ministries Division Committee approved three new
international partnerships between Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
presbyteries and overseas churches.
The new partnerships are: Blackhawk Presbytery (Synod of Lincoln
Trails) with Imenti Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa,
Kenya; National Capital Presbytery (Synod of the Mid-Atlantic) and the
Elburgon Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, Kenya; and
South Louisiana Presbytery (Synod of the Sun) and the Campechano Presbytery
of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico.
Juanita Granady honored for years of service
The Council paused near the end of its meeting to honor Juanita H.
Granady, director of the Department of the Stated Clerk, who has served the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in the Office of the General Assembly for more
than 25 years. Granady is retiring at the conclusion of the 210th General
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