From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Stated clerk's 'Top 10' Assembly issues

Date 15 Jan 2003 16:06:31 -0500

Note #7563 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Stated clerk's 'Top 10' Assembly issues

Mission, biennial Assemblies, abortion, war and peace top '03 list

by the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick
Stated Clerk, General Assembly 

Editor's note: Every winter, Kirkpatrick shares his predictions about which
issues will spark the most interest during the upcoming General Assembly. The
215th Assembly convenes on May 24 in Denver. Kirkpatrick presented his "Top
10" list to the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly during its
Jan. 13 meeting - one day before Elder Alex Metherell of Los Ranchos
Presbytery turned in apetition calling for a special meeting of the 214th GA.
- Jerry L. Van Marter

1. National Ministry Strategies: NMD is bringing two strategy papers
concerning the church's activities in two crucial areas: higher education and
ministries to Hispanic-Latino constituencies in the PC(USA).

2. Procedures to implement biennial Assemblies: The 214th General Assembly
voted to move to every-other-year Assemblies after the 216th (2004). This
year's Assembly will need to take action on a variety of implementing
actions, such as changing terms and election years to match and adjusting the
number of commissioners at each assembly.

3. War and Peace: The prospect of the the United States launching a war
against Iraq has generated actions in many presbyteries calling for
restraint, for peace in the Middle East, for support of the United Nations,
and for upholding civil liberties. These matters will undoubtedly be a major
concern of the Assembly.

4. Abortion Policy: Overtures have been received to modify the action taken
by the 214th General Assembly on late-term abortions, and various groups are
seeking to change the church's position on abortion.

5. Agency and Ecumenical Reviews: The review committee from the first of six
General Assembly agencies will present its report on the Presbyterian
Publishing Corporation. Also, the Committee on Ecumenical Relations will
report on its review of the World Council of Churches.	Both reports express
appreciation for the good work of the bodies being reviewed.

6. Women Ministers:  The Advisory Committee on Women's Concerns will bring
its report and recommendations on "Clergywomen's Experiences in Ministry: 
Reality and Challenges." This report recommends ways for the church to
support the full participation of women in the ordained ministry of the

7. Changing Patterns of Family Life: The Advisory Committee on Social Witness
Policy (ACSWP) will ask the Assembly to approve a policy paper and
recommendations to strengthen the church's ministry to people in a variety of
family contexts and advocate for public policies that support family life.

8. Budget Concerns: This has been a difficult year financially for the
agencies of the General Assembly. The General Assembly Council will present a
proposed 2004 budget that is $4 million smaller than proposed initially last
year. The Foundation is impacted by declines in the stock market; and rising
health-care expenses are forcing the Board of Pensions to raise dues for
coverage. Budget matters are likely to be a major concern at the Assembly.

9. Abolition of For-Profit Prisons: ACSWP has completed a major study on
private, for-profit prisons that it will bring to the Assembly with its
recommendation that the church work for the abolition of such institutions.

10. Resolution on Africa: ACSWP, working with a variety of other Assembly
agencies, will call the commissioners' attention to the scourges of poverty,
violence and AIDS that are ravaging the continent, and call on the church to
take action to counter them. 

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