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[PCUSANEWS] Moderator asks special GA petitioners to reconsider
PCUSA NEWS <PCUSA.NEWS@ecunet.org>
16 Jan 2003 15:52:35 -0500
Note #7567 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:
Moderator asks special GA petitioners to reconsider
January 16, 2003
Moderator asks special General Assembly
petitioners to reconsider
by Jerry L. Van Marter
LOUISVILLE - General Assembly moderator the Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel has asked the
57 commissioners to the last summer's Assembly who have signed a petition
calling for a special meeting of the Assembly to reconsider.
In his Jan. 14 letter to the petitioners - whose signatures have been
collected over the last several months by Elder Alex Metherell of Los Ranchos
Presbytery - Abu-Akel reiterated arguments he made in a November letter to
all 554 commissioners that "this Special General Assembly would expend
valuable resources of time, energy and money that are desperately needed for
the mission of Christ."
He also noted that the earliest a special Assembly could legally convene is
less than 10 days before the 215th General Assembly is scheduled to meet in
Denver beginning May 24.
"I implore you in the name of Christ and for the good of the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.) to reconsider your decision," Abu-Akel concluded.
Abu-Akel's letter was leaked to The Presbyterian Layman shortly after it was
sent. Metherell's wife, Pamela, is a member of the board of directors of the
Presbyterian Lay Committee, publisher of the Layman.
The full text of Abu-Akel's letter:
January 14, 2003
To the Commissioners calling for a Special General Assembly
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
It was with a heavy heart that I received the petition from you today asking
me to call a Special General Assembly. I wrote to you and the other
commissioners in November imploring you not to sign this petition. I am
making one last appeal to you in this letter to reconsider your decision.
The reasons I gave you in November are still valid. As the Advisory Committee
on the Constitution repeatedly informed us at the 214th GA, a General
Assembly (regular or called) cannot intervene in ongoing judicial process.
Because of constitutional requirements in G.18.0301c. and d., any Book of
Order changes recommended by a called assembly would have at most a week to
be voted on by the 173 presbyteries. Similarly, because of G.18.0301a.,
constitutional amendments could not be referred to the 215th General
Assembly. This Special General Assembly would expend valuable resources of
time, energy, and money that are desperately needed for the mission of
Christ. In the current economy, congregations and governing bodies are
reducing their local programs and contributions to the work of the whole
The practical reality is that the Constitution does not allow me to call a
Special General Assembly sooner than 120 days from now. This constitutional
provision, along with the process detailed in the following paragraph, would
mean this Special Called Assembly would take place literally less than ten
days before the 215th General Assembly, scheduled to begin May 24 in Denver.
I believe having two assemblies so close to each other would only create
confusion in the church and diminish our greater witness to the world. I
believe that this may not have been your intention when you signed the
Very soon the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) will need to verify the
signatures on the petition. The OGA will first contact your presbytery stated
clerk to confirm your status as commissioner to the 214th General Assembly.
Then the OGA will contact you by phone to verify your signature and
willingness to call for a Special General Assembly, to be held the week
before the 215th General Assembly.
I implore you in the name of Christ and for the good of the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.) to reconsider your decision.
The Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel
Moderator of the 214th General Assembly (2002) of the Presbyterian Church
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