Category Archives: Moderator

Church Of England General Synod Discusses The Columba Declaration Tomorrow

The General Synod of the Church of England began meeting today. While that fact alone may be of interest to polity wonks, for the GA Junkies this Synod meeting holds particular interest as they take up the matter of the Columba Declaration, a joint agreement with the Church of Scotland.

According to the agenda for the Synod the Report of the Church of England-Church of Scotland Joint Study Group will begin at 2:30 PM BST tomorrow, 16 February 2016. If you wish to follow along there is a livestream and there are Twitter accounts @c_of_e for the church and @synod for the Synod meeting itself. There is a #Synod hashtag to follow as well.

Of particular note is the address to the Synod by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Angus Morrison early on in the report. According to the Church of Scotland news article it is believed this is the first time a currently serving moderator has ever been given this privilege. In addition, Rt. Rev. and Mrs. Morrison will be the guests of Archbishop and Mrs. Welby at Lambeth Palace during their stay in London.

The action before the Synod has three parts: To welcome the report as a significant development between the two churches; To approve the Columba Declaration; And to request the Council for Christian Unity to oversee the implementation.

We will see how this goes tomorrow in London and we can expect to see reciprocal action at the Church of Scotland General Assembly in Edinburgh in May.

Moderator Designate For The 2016 General Assembly Of The Presbyterian Church In Ireland

In their own unique approach to choosing the Moderator of the next General Assembly, all the the presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland meet simultaneously on the first Tuesday Rev-Frank-Sellarof February and chose their candidate from those on the official ballot. And so, having waited for the report from Church House in Belfast, we now know that The Rev. Frank Sellar will be the 177th Moderator of the General Assembly. And unlike the last few years, this vote was not even close with 18 of the 19 presbyteries endorsing Rev. Sellar.

In a post-election quote he says:

“It has been a huge privilege to have been involved in a lifetime of leadership in local congregations, south and north. I’m humbled that the wider church has trusted me with this responsibility, granting fresh opportunities of mission, which this year as Moderator of the General Assembly will bring, not only serving the wider church, but society throughout the whole of Ireland and further afield.”

Rev. Sellar is currently the pastor at Bloomfield Presbyterian Church in East Belfast. A Belfast News Letter article last week described his theological leanings saying he is “an evangelical conservative.”

At this time I will note that one of his distinctions is that he has ministered in both the Republic of Ireland (“the south”) and in Northern Ireland – twenty years in the former and eleven years in the latter. And on a personal note I found it encouraging that his wife is an occupational therapist as I seem to accumulate physical and occupational therapists in my family.

I will write more tomorrow after the traditional statement and press conference as well as the local press reaction.

But, we do extend to Rev. Sellar our congratulations and prayers as he prepares to moderate the upcoming General Assembly as well as for his whole moderatorial year.

Ballot For The Moderator Designate Of The Presbyterian Church In Ireland General Assembly

About 24 hours from now the presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland will vote on who will be the Moderator Designate for the 2016 General Assembly. The ballot was announced last week and there are three nominees for the position. They are, in alphabetical order:

It is worth noting that Revs. Bell and Sellar were also on the ballot last year.

The nominees were covered in the Belfast Newsletter and the brief bios there include a notation of their theological leanings.

The lack of any women being nominated has been noted and was called out by The Rev. Dr. Ruth Patterson in a Belfast Telegraph column by Alf McCreary. Dr. Patterson was the first woman in any denomination to be ordained as a minister in Ireland and was twice on the Moderator ballot herself. No female nominee has yet to be elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the PCI. Mr. McCreary developed this theme a bit further in his column three days later where he talked about “How Presbyterians have lost ground over gender equality.”

So there is the prologue. We will be waiting tomorrow to hear the results of the presbytery voting and look forward to Wednesday morning’s traditional news conference.

Stay tuned…

The Columba Declaration: A Statement Of Recognition and Cooperation Between The Church Of Scotland And The Church Of England

Late yesterday a joint announcement was made by the Church of Scotland and the Church of England that a Joint Study Group had refined an agreement, named the Columba Declaration, for mutual recognition and cooperation. This morning we have additional details and the full text of the document as the Church of Scotland and the Church of England have released a common statement.

A couple of background items for context. First, in case you wondered the declaration is named for Saint Columba, a 6th century monk from Ireland who founded the Iona monastery and did much to evangelize Scotland. The other item that people have joked about is that the British Monarch is way ahead of the churches in that while she or he is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England they are also an adherent of the Church of Scotland when they are up north.

The press release from the Church of Scotland says that the joint study group has been meeting for 15 years and the statement has been a working document for five. It also points out that the two churches have already been working on common projects such as the Church Mutual Credit Union as well as having a common interest in Fresh Expressions.

The importance of the report is highlighted in this excerpt

“Our hope is that joint affirmation by our two churches of The Columba Declaration would:

  • Affirm and strengthen our relationship at a time when it is likely to be particularly critical in the life of the United Kingdom;
  • Provide an effective framework for coordinating present partnership activities and for fostering new initiatives;
  • Enable us to speak and act together more effectively in the face of the missionary challenges of our generation.”

This was today’s front-page news in Scotland with stories by the BBC News, Herald Scotland, The Daily Mail, and The Telegraph. The story from the Telegraph contains some historical background including this paragraph:

Although virtually unimaginable now in a more secular age, the divide between Anglicanism and Presbyterianism was once one of the most deadly fault-lines in British history. The two groups emerged from the same tensions, around the interpretation of the Bible and issues of church and state, which ultimately fuelled the civil war across the British Isles in the 1640s.

It also has this quote from a former Moderator of the General Assembly that does a good job of providing context:

The Very Rev Dr Sheilagh Kesting, the Church of Scotland’s ecumenical officer, and a former Moderator, said: “This isn’t about union but about working across borders.

“This is putting a marker down saying our relationships are good; these are the things that are happening; this is why it is happening and why it should continue.

“We are accepting each other as we are in our diversity … there is still a wish on both sides that we could find a way, given that diversity, to recognise each other’s ministry fully.”

This agreement was also praised on the editorial page of the Herald with a piece that begins:

News that the Church of Scotland and Church of England have made a formal agreement to become ecumenical partners and to work jointly together on a variety of initiatives in future is little short of a religious revolution, the sort Calvin and Knox would have recognised as seismic. As befits our times, however, this historic step, outlined in a document called the Columba Declaration, has been taken not with great fanfare, but with quiet determination. The result of decades of deliberation and consultation, it has been distinguished by the thoughtfulness and lack of stridency for which the ecumenical movement is renowned.

For American Presbyterians, I would note that this agreement has some similarities to the various Full Communion agreements that the PC(USA) has but is is only a beginning and is not as extensive or complete of cooperation. In particular, ministers may serve in churches in the other branch recognizing each branches’ discipline, but that does not include stream-lined transfer of membership.

The Declaration will need the concurrence of the highest governing body of each denomination – the General Synod of the Church of England in February and the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May. Each meeting will include an address by the presiding officer of the other church. We await the release of the full four-chapter report that will go to the councils.

The Columba Declaration is relatively short so here it is in its entirety:

THE COLUMBA DECLARATION

In the light of our common mission and context (chapter 1), our agreement in faith (chapter 2) and our significant opportunities for growing in partnership in mission (chapter 3), we recommend that our churches make the following Declaration.

We, the Church of Scotland and the Church of England, make the following acknowledgements and commitments, which are interrelated.

a) Acknowledgements

(i) We acknowledge one another’s churches as churches belonging to the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ and truly participating in the apostolic ministry and mission of the whole people of God.

(ii) We acknowledge that in both our churches the word of God is truly preached, and the sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Communion are rightly administered.

(iii) We acknowledge that both our churches share in the common confession of the apostolic faith.

(iv) We acknowledge that one another’s ordained ministries of word and sacraments are given by God as instruments of grace and we look forward to a time when growth in communion can be expressed in fuller unity that makes possible the interchangeability of ministers.

(v) We acknowledge that personal, collegial and communal oversight (episkope) is embodied and exercised in our churches in a variety of forms, as a visible sign expressing and serving the Church’s unity and continuity in apostolic life, mission and ministry.

b) Commitments

We commit ourselves to grow together in communion and to strengthen our partnership in mission. Through this commitment, we hope to enrich our continuing relationships with other churches in the United Kingdom and around the world. We will welcome opportunities to draw other churches into the activities and initiatives that we share.

As part of that commitment, we will continue to:

(i) pray for and with one another;

(ii) welcome one another’s members to each other’s worship as guests and receive one another’s members into the congregational life of each other’s churches where that is their desire;

(iii) explore opportunities for congregational partnership, formal as well as informal, in those cases where there are churches in close geographical proximity;

(iv) enable ordained ministers from one of our churches to exercise ministry in the other church, in accordance with the discipline of each church;

(vi) identify theological issues that arise from growth towards fuller communion and be prepared to allocate resources to addressing them;

(vii) work together on social, political and ethical issues that arise from our participation in public life and be prepared to allocate resources to joint initiatives for addressing them.

In order to assist our churches in living out the acknowledgements and commitments of the Columba Declaration, we will appoint Co-Chairs and members of a Church of Scotland – Church of England Contact Group, whose purpose will be to coordinate the different activities that make up our rich relationship and develop new initiatives where these may be needed. The Contact Group will meet at least annually and will report annually to the Council for Christian Unity in the Church of England and the Committee on Ecumenical Relations in the Church of Scotland.

Ballot For The Moderator Of The 142nd General Assembly (2016) Of The Presbyterian Church In Canada

Back at the beginning of the month the Principal Clerk of the Presbyterian Church in Canada announced the ballot for nominating the Moderator of the 142nd General Assembly. There are two names are on the ballot, a noticeably smaller number than the six on the ballot last year. Both gentlemen are pastors in parish ministry in the eastern part of the country. The information below is primarily drawn from the biographical sketches provided by the Principal Clerk’s office. The Presbyterian Record magazine will publish profiles of each in their January issue and I will update here as appropriate.

The Rev. J. Wesley Denyer is the pastor of the Rosedale Presbyterian Church in central Toronto. He has been there four and a half years and served previously in Brampton, Ont., Unionville, Ont., and Kirkland Lake, Ont. The Unionville position was a new church development and he helped grow the church and guide the construction of their first building.

His education includes a B.A. from the University of Toronto in psychology and an M.Div. from Knox College.

He has provided significant service to higher governing bodies including serving as a presbytery clerk and moderator and as convener of the Ministry Committee. At the national level he has served on a number of teams and committees including the New Church Development Committee and Assembly Council. He has also served as a member of the Knox College Board of Governors.

The bio also mentions that he considers his ministry style to be collaborative with congregational participation and transparency in decision making.

He and his wife, the Rev. Canon Dr. Judy Rois – who serves as Executive Director of the Anglican Foundation of Canada – have two adult children and two grandchildren.

The Rev. Douglas H. Rollwage has served as the pastor of Zion Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown, P.E.I., for almost 11 years. He holds a B.Th. from Queen’s Theological College (now Queen’s School of Religion) and an M.Div. from Knox College. (The bio is not specific about at which of the schools he earned an M.T.S.) He began his pastoral service at Strathcona Park Presbyterian Church in Kingston, Ont. Between there and Charlottetown he was the pastor at Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church in Scarborough in the Toronto Metro Area.

He has served the church locally as a presbytery moderator and nationally as a member of multiple committees including his current service on the Ecumenical and Interfaith Committee. He also serves as a resource person for the Assembly Office. He and his church are active with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank that provides food to those in need around the globe.

His bio talks about his leading pilgrimages to Israel, Turkey and Greece, an activity that has parallels in his current national committee service and which is highlighted on his Facebook page.

He and his wife Dana, a public school teacher, have two children, one a recent college graduate and the other still in college.

So our congratulations to Rev. Denyer and Rev. Rollwage for this recognition of their ecclesiastical skills and service and we look forward to revisiting this topic as additional events and information warrant.

Moderator Designate For The Church Of Scotland 2016 General Assembly

RussellBarrEarly this morning the Church of Scotland announced their choice for the Moderator of their 2016 General Assembly. He is the Rev. Dr. Russell Barr, pastor at Cramond Kirk (pictured at left in an image from the Church of Scotland). However, he is well know in the church and community for his role in helping found the Fresh Start ministry to the homeless in Edinburgh. According to the Kirk’s announcement this organization “has helped 2,000 people get back on their feet in the last year.”

He has been at Cramond Kirk since 1993, recently served as the Moderator of Edinburgh Presbytery, and also served as the convener of the Africa and Caribbean Committee of the Kirk’s World Mission Council. In addition to his theological training in Scotland he holds a D.Min. from Princeton Theological Seminary.

He said of his appointment that he was “excited, honoured and overwhelmed” and that “It is humbling to be elected by your peers to serve the Church in this way.” Needless to say, among the issues he wishes to focus on during his moderatorial year are homelessness and food poverty. And he has expressed his support of the Tomorrow’s Calling pastoral recruiting campaign.

There has been significant media coverage of the announcement that emphasizes his work with the homeless including BBC News, stv News, The Falkirk Herald, Scottish Housing News, Edinburgh News from the Scotsman and Third Force News. I have the usual quibble with the last one whose headline called him “head of the Kirk.” No, Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, he is only called to be the Moderator. And one news source jumped the gun on the embargo and quickly made the article go away.

And so we extend out congratulations to Rev. Barr, thank him for his outstanding service in the past and assure him of our prayers for the future. Best wishes as he prepares for the Assembly and may you find your moderatorial year a rewarding experience.

The Discussion of PC(USA) Identity And Musings On An “Ecclesiastical Hackathon”

About a month ago the Moderator of the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Heath Rada, issued a “Call to the Church” to rethink what the PC(USA) should look like and in doing so build trust within the church.  This started the wheels in motion for a discussion in the denomination about what the identity of the PC(USA) is now and what it should be. Specifically he said in his remarks:

It became apparent [within a small task force on mission funding] that we all believed a painful situation existed [in the PC(USA)] and for anything significant to be accomplished we must find ways for that trust to be restored. It was felt that our denomination needed to explore these matters in depth and that I should announce a CALL TO THE CHURCH to help in addressing them.

The statement goes on to list five areas of importance, from the church’s changing place in the wider culture to the theological institutions to the urgent need for action. And with that the statement outlines five steps to take but at multiple points emphasizing the need to involve all levels of the church.

In a follow-up article in the Presbyterian Outlook he updates us on the response he has gotten and what next steps might be. While some are a bit further off – specifically part of the preparation for the 222nd General Assembly – other steps were being implemented quickly. This past week we saw the first of those and that is a survey opened up by Research Services to gather input from the full breadth of the PC(USA). You are encouraged to “Join the Conversation” and you have until November 13 to respond on that survey.

Another step is the announcement of two Twitter chats with the Vice-Moderator of the 221st General Assembly, Larissa Kwong Abazia (@LarissaLKA). The first chat begins this afternoon at 6 PM EDT (3 PM PDT) and will use the hashtag #pcusaidentity. The second chat is on Thursday November 12 at 9 PM EST (7 PM MST).

In reading that follow-up article a few things jump out at me. One is that the responses include “groups…wanting to be part of the conversation.” So must a group come forward to be included? Another is that Office of the General Assembly and Research Services will be the ones surveying the church and figuring out how to initiate discussions. It struck me that groups and offices in the national church seem to be headlining what looks like an institutional response. This is no surprise since at one point in the initial Call Moderator Rada wrote:

Again let me state the obvious. Someone has to take a lead. I am asking that the denomination affirm and actively participate in the COGA process which is getting ready to be unveiled and which will undertake the massive task of assessing the church’s will (in accordance with God’s will) concerning who and what we need to be as a denomination.

An interesting article three weeks ago takes a very different approach…

The Presbyterian Outlook published an op-ed piece by Deborah Wright and Jim Kitchens titled “An Open Letter to Moderator Heath Rada: What if . . . we held an ecclesiastical hackathon?

As Presbyterians you have to love the idea, but more on that in a moment.

Their idea is an open call and competition where people form teams of six individuals and come up with their ideas about what the PC(USA) should look like or be doing. As they say:

Game theorists radically believe that the solutions to tough social problems reside in the players. Adaptive Change theorists believe deep challenges of uncharted territories must find solutions in unknown corners. Positive Deviance theorists act on the notion that the village has the answers, if one only looks to the fringes. What if this once – instead of committees and task forces and hired expert consultants – what if . . . we bucked up our Reformed theology and went looking for our unheralded prophets out there, trusting God to provide!

The idea is that a set of “rules and tools” would be issued by the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) and any group of six members of the PC(USA) would have a few months to assemble a team and present a plan, solution, strategy, what ever was being asked for.

A number of theological and polity positives jump out at me here. As the authors emphasize, we are a priesthood of all believers. Why should we let the brains at OGA and PMAB have all the fun with this. The Reformed community should be the specialists at crowd sourcing as we believe decision making and the corresponding mission are to be done at the lowest applicable level and our structure is supposed to allow the most people and those with particular gifts for the situation to be involved.

It is arguable whether groups of six are theologically supported here – seven is a more spiritual number or we could just think of two groups of six making twelve. But in our church history it was the group of the “Six Johns“, led by John Knox, that over four days wrote the Scottish Confession of Faith of 1560. Not exactly a hackathon since they were the only group working on it but still a model of a group of six that worked quickly to produce a product that changed history.

Now looking at this proposal I do cringe a little bit to see that the process is directed by the agencies at the top. They are the existing coordinating bodies after all and in a position to be able to do this so there is a solid rational for this. But let’s think a bit outside the box here.

What if we thought about this a bit more as a crowd sourced or grassroots project and tried to find another point to run this from. What if the responsibility were devolved to someplace in the church that is actively doing something like this, such as the 1001 New Worshiping Communities group? Or maybe an existing recognized affiliated body like the NEXT Church group or the Presbyterian Outlook board. Or maybe something completely different like a joint steering group made up of members of the Covenant Network and the Fellowship Community? Or a really radical thought: Just go for it!

The idea would be for groups that wanted to get involved to brainstorm changes and then send it to the next General Assembly from the bottom up. Get your group together and then take the idea to your two or three nearest presbyteries for endorsement as ascending overtures so they will be considered as business in Portland. If this hackathon concept is taken seriously maybe one of the commissioner committees at GA could have the responsibility for reviewing these and helping the Assembly to think in new ways. And remember, the deadline for proposed Book of Order changes is February 19, 2016, and for overtures with financial implications it is April 19, 2016.

So there you have my riff on the hackathon idea. I don’t think this is too far off from the ideas Landon Whitsitt discussed in his book Open Source Church. And remember, the hackathon – or whatever you want to call it – concept has two purposes: One is discussed above as a model for drawing more fully from the wisdom and knowledge of the whole group. The other is to involve more people in seriously visioning and thinking about the problem and empowering them to do something about it so they have ownership of situation. This is not answer a survey or participate in a guided discussion sort of thing. The idea is to empower any interested member to dive into the details, inner working and think about the problem at the deepest levels. Where it may go we don’t know so this certainly could be a “stay tuned” moment for the PC(USA).

Moderator Designate For The Free Church Of Scotland General Assembly

We are entering the GA preparation season with moderator candidates being announced and overtures being endorsed. So here one of the early announcements…

A couple of weeks ago the Free Church of Scotland announced their selection of the Rev. Dr. John Nicholls as their Moderator Designate for the 2016 General Assembly. Rev. Nicholls currently serves, in semi-retirement, as an associate minister at the Smithton Free Church of Inverness, but may be best known as the former chief executive of the London City Mission, a position he left back in May of 2013 after more than 20 years with the organization. He began his ministry at Ardnamurchan, Lochaber in 1975 before returning to his home town of London to serve at the London City Church and then the City Mission.

He began his higher education, according to the press release, at the Universities of Bradford and then Leeds studying mathematics and education. He completed his theological training at what was then Free Church College (now Edinburgh Theological Seminary) and his doctorate is in practical theology from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

The Free Church press release says of him “Dr Nicholls, 66, is widely respected as one of the most gentle and gracious ministers in the denomination.”

The press release includes these words from Dr. Nicholls in response to the call:

“Although most of my years of ministry have been spent outside Scotland, the Free Church has been my spiritual home for over 40 years.

“It is a great honour to be asked to serve as moderator of the next General Assembly.

“Having seen much evidence of the vitality and growth of evangelical Presbyterian Churches around the world, it is exciting to see signs of similar growth and renewal in Scotland, with the Free Church growing in membership and in the number of its congregations.

“With record numbers of students enrolled at the Edinburgh Theological Seminary, these are days of renewed hope and expectation across the Free Church.

“In such a climate, the General Assembly becomes far more than a mere talking shop or business meeting.

“And yet, the work and witness of the Free Church will only truly prosper if there is a strong and healthy passion for prayer and for the Word of God, and a genuine love to Jesus Christ, among its ministers and members.

“That must be the most important concern of any Moderator and any Assembly.”

He and his wife Sarah have two children and four grandchildren.

Our congratulations to Dr. Nicholls and prayers and best wishes as he prepares for this new call. We look forward to his leadership as he moderates the Assembly and will continue to pray for him in the moderatorial year which will follow.

43rd General Assembly Of The Presbyterian Church In America

01645A81-A5D8-4EB1-9E4C30D14028D307The 43rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America will convene their plenary sessions tomorrow evening, 9 June, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Committees of Commissioners began meeting today. The Assembly will continue through noon on Friday. The theme of the Assembly is “Anchored in Christ. Active in Culture.” The meeting will be live streamed and they have their GA app available for several platforms to follow along. There is also a ShareFile! app there for registered commissioners to download reports and other documents.

While the full volume of reports is available only to commissioners, the docket and overtures are available on line. [Tech note to the GA organizers – you might want to change the title in the GA docket PDF properties so it no longer says 40th General Assembly.] To track the polity of the PCA you can access the Book of Church Order online.

News updates will be posted through the official news website and online publication byFaith.

Turning to social media, you will probably want to keep an eye on the byFaith Magazine Facebook page. There are numerous opportunities to follow the meeting on Twitter including the official feed from byFaith (@PCAbyFaith). There is also a feed for the Reasoning_Together (@PCA_Elders) program. The hashtag for the Assembly is #pcaga.

Other related Twitter accounts include Reformed University Fellowship (@RUFnational) and the Mission to North America (@pcamna) (There is also PCA Christian Ed (@pcacep) but it appears pretty inactive.) I would also include in this group Covenant College (@CovenantCollege) which is hosting an event during the Assembly.

Individuals who will be at the meeting and are, or will probably be tweeting include Fred Greco (@fredgreco), Ligon Duncan (@LigonDuncan), Sean Michael Lucas (@SeanMLucas) and Jemar Tisby (@JemarTisby) and his Reformed African American Network (@RAANetwork). Having included one organization there I will also mention Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing (@prpbooks) and Reformed Theological Seminary (@ReformTheoSem). Let me also include Allan Edwards (@edwardsae1) who, after last year’s success with the Bingo Card, has offered the Selfie Scavenger Hunt this year using the hashtag #PCAGAselfie. And finally, I have previously been advised by @PCAPresbyter himself that all you really need to do is follow him. He will certainly enlighten your tracking of PCA GA in his own inimitable way. 🙂

Concerning the overtures to this GA, byFaith Online has an article that covers the “most substantive” of the ten overtures before the Assembly. In addition, Benjamin Shaw, who blogs as the gptsrabbi, has done good rundowns of these overtures as well:

  • Overture 1 – At the present time the decisions of judicial commissions must be affirmed by the governing body it is a commission of. This overture provides the option for a judicial commission to have the final decision on a case as is the case in some other Presbyterian branches.
  • Overtures 2 and 9 – One of the overtures that caught my attention as they ask for a study committee to consider the meaning and scriptural precedent for the Westminster Standards’ prohibition of “recreations” on the Sabbath.
  • Overture 3 – Proposes changes to the parental promises in the baptismal vows. There is another thoughtful discussion of this overture at Green Baggins.
  • Overtures 4, 5, and 6 – Changes to presbytery boundaries and creating two new presbyteries
  • Overture 7 – Would change the rules of ecclesiastical trials so that the defendant could be forced to testify. That is, they could not “take the fifth.”
  • Overture 8 – Would change the BCO regarding giving up ordained office if an officer does not have a call. Currently, for teaching elders, they may be removed from the office by a 2/3 vote of presbytery if they have been without a call for an extended period. The overture would make it automatic if they have been without a call for three years although the presbytery may continue them in the office for a year by a majority vote. Similar terms would apply to ruling elders and deacons.
  • Overture 10 – Memorial to Teaching Elder John Wayne King

pca_new_2014And we also wait to see the recommendation from the referral of the new logo that was proposed in an overture last year.

So our best wishes to the commissioners and leaders of the PCA General Assembly and prayers for your discernment the next few days. I will be interested to see how several of these business items are decided.

 

In a programming note – This will be the busiest week of the year for Assemblies with six that I know of convening in the next few days. Please bear with me as I try to get summaries of each of them posted.

2015 General Assembly Of The Presbyterian Church In Ireland

bushAbout an hour ago the Presbyterian Church in Ireland convened their 2015 General Assembly with worship and the installation of the new Moderator, the Rev. Dr. Ian McNie. The Assembly runs through Thursday 4 June. As the meeting gets going here is some info to help follow along:

  • The Assembly will be live streamed from the live streaming page. Note that links I have seen in tweets have gone to the main assembly page instead.
  • The theme for the Assembly is “A Caring Fellowship” and among other places, it will be highlighted in the worship on Wednesday evening.
  • The business of the Assembly can be found on the Reports page and there is also a page with the full Order of Business.
  • The polity documents include the main document, The Code, as well as the helpful A Guide to Assembly Procedure.
  • The News page will carry official press releases and news items including the pre-Assembly press release which contains a rundown of the major moments and business at the Assembly this year. For a bit more lighthearted look at the Assembly you can also check out their 10 things you didn’t know about #PCIGA15.

There are plenty of social media contact points for the Assembly, beginning with the official Twitter account @PCIAssembly which in the past has provided a very helpful and comprehensive news feed on the actions of the Assembly. The outgoing Moderator, Rev. Dr. Michael Barry, has been tweeting at @PCIModerator. We will see if the new Moderator, the Rev. Dr. Ian McNie, assumes the account. The official hashtag for the Assembly is #pciga15 as you might have guessed from that news article above. There is a hashtag from last year, #lifeinpci for dialogue and sharing about the life and work of the church and it seems to be getting a bit of activity this year too.

Other ministries of the church that have Twitter accounts are the Life in PCI (@lifeinpci), Presbyterian Women (@PWinIreland), Mission Ireland (@MissionIreland) and PCI Global Missions (@PCIOverseas).

The other set of social media contacts to keep an eye on are those related to the Youth Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. They can be followed at a couple of different Twitter handles including the Youth Assembly account for PCI SPUD (@pcispud), and the Youth and Children’s Ministry account @PCIYAC. Last year they hosted a successful Fringe Event and I am looking to see if something similar might be happening again this year at Assembly. Watch their Facebook page for updates and to see what the youth are up to.

In the list of others to watch for interesting and useful updates it must start with Alan in Belfast (@alaninbelfast) who is always prolific (in a good sense) and insightful during the Assembly. For those active in leadership in the church I would point to former Moderator Rob Craig (@RobCraig54) and Cheryl Meban (@cherylmeban) convener of the Board of Mission Overseas. Looking at the activity so far it appears that we will get the view from the tech booth from Jonathan Tweedie (@jonnytweedie). A trio of others that are active early include Christina Baillie (@cjanebaillie), James Currie (@JCBelfast) and David McCullagh (@wdsmccullagh), although the last may be remote like myself. I will update if I see others that are helpful to follow.

Much of the business for this Assembly will include administrative work related to the reorganization begun at last year’s Assembly. In addition, some work needs to be done to register with the Charities Commission for Northern Ireland and Charities Regulatory Authority in the Republic of Ireland. And I am sure we will see reaction and discussion related to the Republic of Ireland’s recent same-sex marriage referendum and the movement in a similar direction by the Church of Scotland.

So our prayers are with the Assembly this week and Moderator McNie. Best wishes in your discussions and discernment.