From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Move to every-other-year Assemblies contemplated

Date 15 Jun 2002 13:29:35 -0400

Note #7215 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Move to every-other-year Assemblies contemplated
June 14, 2002

Move to every-other-year Assemblies contemplated
by Evan Silverstein
and Jerry Van Marter

COLUMBUS, OH - Presbyterians may soon be gathering less often for the General Assemblies, if commissioners approve a proposal to this year's 214th GA from the Office of the General Assembly and the General Assembly Council.

Commissioners at this year's legislative meeting of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Columbus, OH, will be asked to vote to have the assemblies only every other year. If an overture to that effect passes, the PC(USA) would skip the 2005 assembly and go to the new schedule in 2006.

Similar proposals in the past have been rejected, though the former UPCUSA approved a biennial plan just before Presbyterian reunion in 1983. The reunion agreement included annual Assemblies.

In his pre-Assembly press conference, General Assembly stated clerk the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick outlined six reasons why he supports the move to biennial Assemblies:

* Financial savings - a typical General Assembly costs about $5 million;
* Relief from the seemingly endless cycle of voting on controversial issues, freeing up 
Presbyteries  to concentrate more on mission activities;

* Free up General Assembly agencies to concentrate on their mission activities by not 
having to prepare for an Assembly every year;

* Allow for greater balance between voting commissioners and advisory delegates by 
expanding the commissioner rolls;

* Allowing General Assembly entities more time to respond to and implement 
directives of the Assembly; and

* Provide opportunities for educational and community-building events during the 

The Rev. William Forbes, of Westfield, NJ, the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly moderator, initially expressed misgivings about the proposal, saying, "I think we'll lose something very valuable if we don't meet every year." He said a "connectional" church needs frequent meetings of pastors and elders to discuss policies, set priorities and debate issues of importance to the whole church. 

Several special interest groups have since echoed Forbes concerns and come out in opposition to the biennial proposal.

"A General Assembly is expensive," Forbes conceded, "but it may be a price we ought to pay." 
Send your response to this article to

To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send an 'unsubscribe' request to

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home