Category Archives: PC Australia

Who Speaks For The Church – Or At Least The General Assembly?

In my time doing this blog and watching global Presbyterianism, one of the things that has caught my attention has been the variation between different traditions about who speaks for the denomination.

Now, it is first worth noting that when it comes to pronouncements, particularly social witness stands, many branches recognize that a governing body (judicatory, council – whatever term you use) speaks only for itself and can not bind the next meeting of that deliberative body to that statement or commit other levels of the denomination to it. This is not necessarily the case in all branches, particularly those with strong national infrastructure and definitive decision making at the highest level, but it is true for the polity of many branches that have placed the presbytery as the fundamental governing body and the authority of the other bodies derives from the presbyteries.

The question of who speaks for the church has been an active one recently in the PC(USA) as the Way Forward Commission has wrestled with this. (See the section on Communications in the Outlook article in the link) While not decided yet, something may come out in their final recommendations for consideration by the 223rd General Assembly in June 2018, particularly in the area of communications and the various agencies and offices speaking with one voice.

Globally Presbyterian branches fall into two categories as to who is the voice of the denomination. In general, American branches tend to hand that responsibility to the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly. However, elsewhere in the world the Moderator of the General Assembly or the General Synod tends to be the voice of that body.

I have been working with a semi-quantitative analysis of this over the last few months, but over the last couple weeks I realized there is a reasonable metric to do a quick sort on this. So here are the lists of who provided the official Christmas messages from different branches this year.

Moderators of the General Assembly or the General Synod

Stated Clerks of the General Assembly or the General Synod

Web sites checked where I did not find Christmas messages include the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, CCAP Zambia Synod, CCAP Blantyre Synod, CCAP Livingstonia Synod, Presbyterian Church of Taiwan (English site), Presbyterian Church of Trinidad and Tobago, Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), United Free Church of Scotland, Nonsubscribing Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Presbyterian Church of Wales, Evangelical Presbyterian Church of England and Wales, Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, Free Presbyterian Church of North America, Presbyterian Church in America (but see below), Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Bible Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in Australia, Presbyterian Church in Australia in the State of New South Wales, Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Australia, and the Presbyterian Church of East Africa. If I have missed any in this group, or other branches not listed please let me know and I will update.

So the obvious conclusion is that most Presbyterian branches don’t post a Christmas message on their web site. A number of explanations for this: A few of the branches still hold to the Westminster Directory for the Public Worship of God which has an Appendix against celebrating festivals or holy-days. For others, it is simply the expectation of the denomination – it is a nice idea but that is not what the GA or GS is really there for. And for others, the greetings are distributed in other forms and do not appear on the web site.

The other obvious conclusion is that while this quick analysis shows two obvious trends – Christmas messages are posted by the big institutional Presbyterian branches and they come from the Moderator unless you are an American branch – the other part is that a lot are left out. So back to the drawing board and maybe the semi-quantitative approach. (And this shift in focus to the stated clerk in American branches is an interesting phenomenon I am interested in reading more about, or tracking down more historical details if it has not been done yet.)

A few additional comments:

While the Presbyterian Church of Australia did not have a Christmas message, the web site does have a dedicated page for the Moderator’s comments.

The state branch, the Presbyterian Church of South Australia has begun functioning as a presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland, but their Christmas message last year was written by the last Moderator, the Rev. Gary Ware.

The Presbyterian Church in America did not have a specific Christmas message, but their By Faith news arm does have a piece featuring one of their theology professors that does touch on Christmas theology.

And for the Church of Scotland, the advocacy and discussion of social witness policy is routinely delegated to the Convener of the Church and Society Council. Here are a couple recent examples of Kirk press releases related to “Church welcomes minimum pricing for alcohol ruling” and “Kirk hopes for a budget that will make Scotland a fairer and more equal society.”

Finally, something that was tracking with my other analysis but maybe is best considered an appendix here – a short case study on speaking for the denomination, in this case the PC(USA).

As the top continuing ecclesiastical officer the Stated Clerk speaks for the General Assembly, and not for him or herself, on matters related to policy of the PC(USA). This is covered in the Manual of the General Assembly.

Recently the Stated Clerk, The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, preached in South Korea as part of an ecumenical visit. The headline of the article said “Stated Clerk pledges repentance for No Gun Ri massacre: Nelson: ‘We’ll not let the silence continue’ about Korean War atrocity.” So the question is, as part of the sermon was he speaking for himself, or as the ecclesiastical officer of the PC(USA) was he speaking for the General Assembly?

Again, this was included as part of a sermon and the headline writer latched on to this for the article. Here is the full context of what the Stated Clerk said when he preached:

I cannot apologize for the government of the United States. However, we who are here today from the United States can pledge to not let the silence of this massacre continue. Just as the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse has called on the denomination to both acknowledge and repent of our silence as a denomination, we [the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)] must call upon the United States government to publicly repent of its actions at No Gun Ri.

He is clearly recounting the actions of the General Assembly, with an overture originating from the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse. The problem is that the 222nd General Assembly did not actually call for repentance on the part of any body or government, as the Stated Clerk implies. The final alternate resolution 1) Acknowledged the actions of the US military in the massacre, 2) Directs the Stated Clerk to ask the United States Government to acknowledge the actions, issue an apology and statement of regret as well as considering compensation, and include training for future military members.  And 3) work with the ecumenical partners for resources and additional statements of regret.

In the whole action the word repentance is used only once in the original rational from the Presbytery, which carries the weight of action only to the extent that the final resolution asks for its inclusion in communication about the action of the General Assembly.

So the polity question is: Based on the actions of the 222nd General Assembly, did the Stated Clerk faithfully represent it when he spoke for their action?

So I will leave it at that. I have a lot of other articles in the works so it may be a while before I return to this topic. And to a large degree, this is a topic of debate for us polity wonks and presbygeeks, but does appear to be an issue for the Way Forward Commission.

Your mileage may vary.

General Assembly Season 2016

May 1st – The date on my calendar that marks the beginning of the General Assembly Season. This is our binge year, or we max out on GA’s, as we can include the two biennial assemblies and the triennial one.

So buckle up and here we go.

As always, this is the line-up as I know it – I will update as I clarify additional Assembly and Synod meetings.

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61st General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Taiwan
29 March-1 April 2016

 

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Synod
The Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia
3-5 May 2016
Mt. Druitt, N.S.W.

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Tasmania
10 May 2016 (begins)

 

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General Assembly
Church of Scotland
21-27 May 2016
Edinburgh

 

 

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General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)
23-26 May, 2016
Edinburgh

 

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General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland
23-26 May 2016
Edinburgh

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of South Australia
22 May 2016 (anticipated) No Assembly this year – see comment below

 

Presbyterian_Church_in_Canada_(logo)142nd General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Canada
3-6 June 2016
York University
Toronto, Ontario

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Ireland
6-10 June 2016
Belfast

 

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212th Stated Meeting of the General Synod
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
7-9 June 2016
Bonclarken
Flat Rock, North Carolina

 

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General Assembly
United Free Church of Scotland
8-10 June 2016
Perth

 

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83rd General Assembly
Orthodox Presbyterian Church
8-14 June 2016
Sandy Cove Conference Center
North East, Maryland

 

logo+pcusa222nd General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
18-25 June 2016
Portland, Oregon

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Queensland
19-23 June 2016
Brisbane Boys College
Brisbane

 

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141st General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America

19-22 June 2016
Nashville, Tennessee
Concurrent with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church

 

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186th General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
20-24 June 2016
Nashville, Tennessee
Concurrent with Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America

 

01645A81-A5D8-4EB1-9E4C30D14028D30744th General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in America
20-24 June 2016
Mobile, Alabama

 

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36th General Assembly
Evangelical Presbyterian Church
21-25 June 2016
Ward Church
Northville, Michigan

 

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Synod
Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America
27-29 June 2016
Indiana Wesleyan University
Marion, Indiana

 

 

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N.S.W. State Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Australia
in the State of New South Wales

4 July 2016 (begins)
Croydon, N.S.W.

 

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80th General Synod
Bible Presbyterian Church
4-9 August 2016
Sharonville, Ohio

NYA_0National Youth Assembly
Church of Scotland
19-22 August 2016
Stirlingshire
(Technically not a governing
body, but still an Assembly I track)

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Australia
12 September 2016 (begins)

 

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Victoria
3 October 2016

 

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Western Australia
28 October 2016
Peppermint Grove, WA

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand
15-19 November
University of Otago
Dunedin

 

These are the ones that I am tracking at the moment. I will update as appropriate. If I have missed one, or have information wrong or incomplete, please provide the appropriate information and I will update the list.

And, to make the GA season complete here are two more items…

The first is the series of articles I wrote as an introduction to Presbyterian General Assemblies seven years ago. My GA 101 series consists of the following

GA101: Preface
GA101: Introduction – Why in the world would anybody want to do it this way?
GA101: Connectionalism – The Presbyterian Big Picture
GA101: The Cast of Characters – A score card to identify the players
GA101: The Moderator – All Things In Moderation
GA101: Where does the GA business come from? – Incoming!
GA101: Doing the business of GA — Decently and in Order

Yes, what started as a six part series expanded into seven completed articles with two more unfinished ones (still) in the queue.

And finally, on to the ridiculous. Lest we take ourselves too seriously, a couple years ago I had a little fun with the General Assembly and in the post passed along the GA drinking game and GA Bingo. In addition, Allan Edwards has posted an alternate Bingo card to use or modify for your particular polity. Please play responsibly. 😉

So, for all the GA Junkies out there I wish you the best of GA seasons. May you enjoy the next few months of watching us do things decently and in order!

General Assembly Season 2015

It is the First of May, the day I have traditionally used to mark the start of the General Assembly Season. (Although you will see it started a bit before that.)

There is lots of excitement ahead this year so get ready.

Here is this year’s line-up as I know it now. I will update as I clarify additional Assembly and Synod meetings.

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60th General Assembly
and 150th Anniversary of the founding
Presbyterian Church in Taiwan
7-10 April 2015

 

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Synod
The Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia
5-7 May 2015
Mt. Druitt, N.S.W.

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Tasmania
12 May 2015 (begins)

 

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General Assembly
Church of Scotland
16-22 May 2015
Edinburgh

 

 

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General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland Continuing
18-21 May, 2015
Edinburgh

 

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General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland
18-21 May 2015
Edinburgh

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of South Australia
25 May 2014 (begins)
Naracoorte, S.A.

 

bush

 

General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Ireland
1-4 June 2015
Belfast

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82nd General Assembly
Orthodox Presbyterian Church
3-9 June 2015
Dordt College
Sioux Center, Iowa

 

Presbyterian_Church_in_Canada_(logo)141st General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Canada
4-8 June 2015
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, B.C.

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140th General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America

7-10 June 2015
Huntsville, Alabama

 

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Synod
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland
8-10 June 2015
Bready

 

 

Reformed_Presbyterian_Church_of_North_America_(banner)
Synod
Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America
8-12 June 2015
Bonclarken
Flat Rock, North Carolina
Concurrent with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church

 

arpc_2846216
211th Stated Meeting of the General Synod
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
9-11 June 2015
Bonclarken
Flat Rock, North Carolina
Concurrent with the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America

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43rd General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in America
8-12 June 2015
Chattanooga, Tennessee
(And the logo at left was proposed last year and referred so we will see what the report back is.)

 

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General Assembly
United Free Church of Scotland
10-12 June 2015
Perth

 

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185th General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
19-26 June 2015
Cali, Columbia

 

EvangelicalPresbyterianChurchLogo
35th General Assembly
Evangelical Presbyterian Church
23-27 June 2015
Orlando, Florida

 

pca-logo-4b-small
General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Queensland
21-25 June 2015

 

 

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N.S.W. State Assembly
and 150th Anniversary Celebration
Presbyterian Church of Australia
in the State of New South Wales

29 June 2015 (begins)
Croydon, N.S.W.

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79th General Synod
Bible Presbyterian Church
6-11 August 2015
Cape Canaveral, Florida

NYA_0National Youth Assembly
Church of Scotland
14-17 August 2015
Stirlingshire
(Technically not a governing
body, but still an Assembly I track)

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Victoria
5-8 October 2015

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Western Australia
30 October 2015
Peppermint Grove, WA

 

And in case you were looking for one of these high-profile GA’s, they are not annual events and you will have to wait for next year:

These are the ones that I am tracking at the moment.  I will update as appropriate.  If I have missed one, or have information wrong or incomplete, please provide the appropriate information and I will update the list.

And, to make the GA season complete here are two more items…

The first is the series of articles I wrote as an introduction to Presbyterian General Assemblies seven years ago.  My GA 101 series consists of the following

GA101: Preface
GA101: Introduction – Why in the world would anybody want to do it this way?
GA101: Connectionalism – The Presbyterian Big Picture
GA101: The Cast of Characters – A score card to identify the players
GA101: The Moderator – All Things In Moderation
GA101: Where does the GA business come from? – Incoming!
GA101: Doing the business of GA — Decently and in Order

Yes, what started as a six part series expanded into seven completed articles with two more unfinished ones in the queue.  (Maybe this will give me some motivation to finish those up.)

And finally, on to the ridiculous.  Lest we take ourselves too seriously, a couple years ago I had a little fun with the General Assembly and in the post passed along the GA drinking game and GA Bingo. Please play both responsibly. 😉

So, for all the GA Junkies out there I wish you the best of GA seasons.  May you enjoy the next few months of watching us do things decently and in order!

2014 General Assembly Of The Presbyterian Church Of South Australia

Coming up on Monday 26 May 2014 the Presbyterian Church of South Australia will convene their Assembly in North Adelaide. Typically the meeting would conclude the following day.

UPDATE: The incoming Moderator was to be The Rev. Chris ten Broeke, pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in North Adelaide. From Gary Ware’s blog we learn that just before the Assembly was to start he indicated that circumstances had changed and he would not be able to serve.

If you happen to remember from last year, the outgoing Moderator is The Rev. Gary Ware, the pastor at Mount Gambier Presbyterian Church
and one of the more prominent, prolific and entertaining Presbyterian
bloggers in Australia. For reflections on the Assembly keep an eye on
his blog – mgpcpastor’s blog – as well as his Twitter handle @gjware.

UPDATE: Due to Rev. ten Broeke’s inability to take the role of Moderator it was the recommendation of the clerk and the will of the Assembly that Rev. Ware should continue in that office.

The
Assembly convenes on Monday 26 May 2014 and will adjourn when they have
concluded the business, typically the next day.

After the Assembly check the PCSA News for a report on the Assembly.

For the Presby Geeks and Polity Wonks you can check the PCSA Rules and Regulations as well as the Presbyterian Church of Australia Code Book.

I will update here if I see new information or related content.

We offer our best wishes and prayers to Rev. ten Broeke, Rev. Ware
and the whole Presbyterian Church of South Australia for their Assembly
this week.

General Assembly Season 2014


As the First of May rolls around we mark the start of the 2014 General Assembly Season.

Are you ready for an interesting year of Assemblies?

Here is this year’s line-up as I know it now. I will update as I clarify additional Assembly meetings.

  59th General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Taiwan

  22-25 April 2014
Tainan

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Tasmania
  13 May 2014 (begins)

  General Assembly
Church of Scotland

17-23 May 2014
Edinburgh

  General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland Continuing
19-22 May, 2014
Edinburgh

  General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland
19-23 May 2014
Edinburgh

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of South Australia
26 May 2014 (begins)
North Adelaide, S.A.

  140th General Assembly

Presbyterian Church in Canada
30 May – 2 June 2014
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Ireland
 
2-6 June 2014
Belfast

General Assembly
United Free Church of Scotland
  4-6 June 2014
Perth

81st General Assembly

Orthodox Presbyterian Church
4-10 June 2014
Kuyper College
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Synod
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland
9-11 June 2014
Dervock

210th Stated Meeting of the General Synod

Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church

10-12 June 2014
Bonclarken
Flat Rock, North Carolina

221st General Assembly (2014)

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
14-21 June 2014
Detroit, Michigan
(note this is a biennial Assembly)

139th General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America

15-18 June 2014
Chattanooga, Tennessee

184th General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
16-20 June 2014
Chattanooga, Tennessee

42nd General Assembly

Presbyterian Church in America
17-20 June 2014
Houston, Texas

34th General Assembly

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
17-21 June 2014
Knoxville, Tennessee

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Queensland

  30 June – 3 July 2014
Clayfield (Brisbane), QLD

  N.S.W. State Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Australia
in the State of New South Wales

 
30 June 2014 (begins)
Croydon, N.S.W.

  78th General Synod
Bible Presbyterian Church
31 July – 5 August 2014
Olympia, Washington

  National Youth Assembly

Church of Scotland

15-18 August 2014
Stirlingshire
(Technically not a governing
body, but still an Assembly I track)

  14th General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Ghana

15-21 August 2014
Abetifi Kwahu

  General Synod
ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians
18 August 2014
Dallas, Texas

  6th General Assembly
Evangelical Presbyterian Church — Ghana
August 2014
Ho

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand

  3-7 October 2014
Saint Kentigern College
Auckland

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Victoria
  6 October 2014

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Western Australia
  24 October 2014

These are the ones that I am tracking at the moment.  I will update as
appropriate.  If I have missed one, or have information wrong or incomplete, please provide the appropriate information and I will update the list.

And, to make the GA season complete here are two more items…

The first is the series of articles I wrote as an introduction to Presbyterian General Assemblies six years ago.  My GA 101 series consists of the following

GA101: Preface
GA101: Introduction – Why in the world would anybody want to do it this way?
GA101: Connectionalism – The Presbyterian Big Picture
GA101: The Cast of Characters – A score card to identify the players
GA101: The Moderator – All Things In Moderation
GA101: Where does the GA business come from? – Incoming!
GA101: Doing the business of GA — Decently and in Order

Yes, what started as a six part series expanded into seven
completed articles with two more unfinished ones in the queue.  (Maybe
this will give me some motivation to finish those up.)

And finally, on to the ridiculous.  Lest we take ourselves too seriously, a couple years ago I had a little fun with the General Assembly and in the post passed along the GA drinking game and GA Bingo. Please play both responsibly.

So, for all the GA Junkies out there I wish you the best of GA
seasons.  May you enjoy the next few months of watching us do things
decently and in order!

2013 General Assembly Of The Presbyterian Church Of Australia

Earlier today the 28th Session of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia convened in Sydney.

This is a triennial meeting that brings together the six state churches to consider matters of national scope in mission, ministry and polity.

On the one hand, there is not a significant amount of online information about the details of the meeting so we will have to wait for an official summary afterwards. If you want to see the polity documents, the Code Book is available online.

On the other hand, we have the Rev. Gary Ware who is attending the meeting as the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of South Australia and is serving as one of the Chaplains to the incoming Moderator-General, the Rev. David Cook. Gary has already given us a great review with pictures of the opening service and I expect that we will have some more informative updates from him on his blog.

In terms of social media, there is a little traffic on the church’s Facebook page. Similarly there is a small bit of chatter on Twitter. Rev. Ware (@gjware) suggests that the official hashtag be #GAAus13.

If you do the search on that hashtag you will notice a familiar, yet in this context somewhat unexpected, contributor — Teaching Elder J. Ligon Duncon (@LigonDuncan). The incoming Chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary was the featured speaker at a Pre-Assembly conference on What Should Evangelicals Think that was hosted by the Presbyterian Theological Centre CORRECTION Presbyterian Theological College. On the Facebook page there is the suggestion that his talks will be available on the PTC website in the near future.

And so we wish the Presbyterian Church of Australia well as its General Assembly gets down to work and our prayers for the commissioners and leadership of that Assembly.

2013 General Assembly Of The Presbyterian Church Of South Australia


Coming up on Monday 27 May 2013 the Presbyterian Church of South Australia will convene their Assembly. More on that in a minute, but first a few notes on the history and polity of that church.

I have not covered the Assemblies in Australia before, especially the state Assemblies. But after some gentle prodding I have added them to my list. Part of it was my own lack of knowledge of the structure of the church there and not realizing the significance of the state meetings. Yes, there is a national Presbyterian Church of Australia which has General Assemblies every three years, the next one coming up this September. But one of the things that allows the Assembly to meet that infrequently is the high degree of autonomy accorded to the six state churches. Each state church is separately incorporated in its state and many have long histories there. The state churches came first and federated nationally in 1901. In 1977 two-thirds of the Presbyterian Church of Australia congregations joined in the formation of the Uniting Church and the congregations that remained formed the foundation for the current continuing church. (This was one of the 70:30 partition examples I talked about in another post a while back.)

So on the national level decisions are made about doctrine, practice regarding worship, minister transfers from other denominations, world missions and some unified ministries. The state Assemblies handle the local specifics, create and manage presbyteries and ministerial preparation and calls.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Tasmania met last week and I have not yet seen any reports or highlights from that meeting.

This meeting is a different matter…

It gives me great pleasure to congratulate The Rev. Gary Ware on his selection as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of South Australia for the upcoming year. Rev. Ware is the pastor at Mount Gambier Presbyterian Church and one of the more prominent, prolific and entertaining Presbyterian bloggers in Australia. For reflections on the Assembly keep an eye on his blog – mgpcpastor’s blog – as well as his Twitter handle @gjware. (With the caveat that as Moderator your time for other things during the meeting is limited.)

The Assembly convenes on Monday 27 May 2013 and will adjourn when they have concluded the business. This was a much more common practice in the Presbyterian world but with the modern need for reservations and taking time off from work most assemblies now have tighter dockets and planed adjournment dates and times. This Assembly will probably adjourn the next day if I understand correctly.

After the Assembly check the PCSA News for a report on the Assembly.

For the Presby Geeks and Polity Wonks you can check the PCSA Rules and Regulations as well as the Presbyterian Church of Australia Code Book.

I will update if further sources of information appear.

So our best wishes and prayers to Gary and the whole Presbyterian Church of South Australia for their Assembly this week.

UPDATE: It finished up earlier today, Tuesday, as anticipated. During the meeting Gary posted both a lunch shot as well as word the meeting had concluded.

UPDATE 2 (30-May): Gary posted his review and reflection on the Assembly.

General Assembly Season 2013


Ah, the First of May — the start of General Assembly Season 2013! 

Coffee? Check.
Alarm clocks set? Check.
Internet streaming? Check.

It looks like we are all ready to go so here is this year’s line-up:

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Tasmania
  14 May 2013 (begins)

  General Assembly
Church of Scotland

18-24 May 2013
Edinburgh

  General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland Continuing
20-24 May, 2013
Edinburgh

  General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland
20-24 May 2013
Edinburgh

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of South Australia
  27 May 2013 (begins)
North Adelaide, S.A.

General Assembly
United Free Church of Scotland
 
29-31 May 2013
Perth

  139th General Assembly

Presbyterian Church in Canada
31 May – 3 June 2013
Toronto, Ontario

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Ireland
 
3-7 June 2013
Londonderry

80th General Assembly

Orthodox Presbyterian Church
5-11 June 2013
St. Mary’s College
Moraga, California

Synod
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland
10-12 June 2013
Dromore

209th Stated Meeting of the General Synod

Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church

11-13 June 2013
Bonclarken
Flat Rock, North Carolina

183rd General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
17-21 June 2013
Murfreesboro, Tennessee

41st General Assembly

Presbyterian Church in America
17-21 June 2013
Greenville, South Carolina

33rd General Assembly

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
18-22 June 2013
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Queensland

  24 June 2013 (begins)
Clayfield (Brisbane), QLD

  N.S.W. State Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Australia
in the State of New South Wales

 
1 July 2013 (begins)
Croydon, N.S.W.

  77th General Synod
Bible Presbyterian Church
1-6 August 2013
Grand Island, NY

  National Youth Assembly
Church of Scotland

16-19 August 2013
Dundee
(Technically not a governing
body, but still an Assembly I track)

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Australia

9 September 2013 (begins)
Surry Hills (Sydney)
(note: this is a triennial Assembly)

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Victoria
  October 2013

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Western Australia
  25 October 2013
Bassendean, W.A.

A few branches have biennial assemblies so those with their next assembly in 2014 include the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.

These are the ones that I am tracking at the moment.  I will update as
appropriate.  If I have missed one, or have information wrong or incomplete, please provide the appropriate information and I will update the list.

And, to make the GA season complete here are two more items…

The first is the series of articles I wrote as an introduction to Presbyterian General Assemblies five years ago.  My GA 101 series consists of the following

GA101: Preface
GA101: Introduction – Why in the world would anybody want to do it this way?
GA101: Connectionalism – The Presbyterian Big Picture
GA101: The Cast of Characters – A score card to identify the players
GA101: The Moderator – All Things In Moderation
GA101: Where does the GA business come from? – Incoming!
GA101: Doing the business of GA — Decently and in Order

Yes, what started as a six part series expanded into seven
completed articles with two more unfinished ones in the queue.  (Maybe
this will give me some motivation to finish those up.)

And finally, on to the ridiculous.  Lest we take ourselves too seriously, a couple years ago I had a little fun with the General Assembly and in the post passed along the GA drinking game and GA Bingo. Please play both responsibly.

So, for all the GA Junkies out there I wish you the best of GA
seasons.  May you enjoy the next few months of watching us do things
decently and in order!

Haven’t I Seen That Somewhere Before?

leaf_logos

Last month when the Fellowship of Presbyterians was rolling out the new Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians they debuted and explained the new logo and the preferred acronym (that would be ECO not ECOPs).

At the time someone tweeted or blogged that the logo reminded him or her of X – and I have been looking back and trying to figure out who I saw say that both to give them credit as well as to be sure what X is. My failing memory tells me that they suggested the logo for Presbyterians for Earth Care shown above.

Well, after they mentioned that I started seeing similarities to other logos.  I have included two examples above, one from the Friends of Calvin Crest and the other for a non-denominational church in our area.

Now to be clear, the Calvin Crest logo is not a deciduous leaf but a pine needle cluster or maybe a pine cone. But the look and feel is sure similar.

The presbygeeks out there know that this variation on a plant theme is nothing new for Presbyterians…

burning_bush_logos

 

Yes, each of these global Presbyterian seals rocks the burning bush theme adopted by Presbyterians long ago.  (Clockwise from upper left – old Church of Scotland seal, current Church of Scotland logo, Free Church of Scotland, United Free Church of Scotland, old Presbyterian Church in Ireland, current Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, Malaysian Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in Canada, and Presbyterian Church of Taiwan)

[Note: Please see the comment by Alec below with a correction and some fascinating history of the symbols.]

So what got American Presbyterians sidetracked?  There are a couple of exceptions

other logos

 

 

 

… and that BPC logo does have the burning bush. But for the most part American Presbyterians, and a couple more I threw in, tend to use the cross as their dominant theme.

cross logos
(Tempting to leave this as an identification challenge but here are the logos: Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, old United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Church of Australia, and the Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa.) You can spot the burning bush or flame symbolism there in some of these, but the central motif has become the cross.

Where logo design goes from here will be interesting to see.  If early American Presbyterians had a logo they did not use it much. I don’t know if it was simply because they did not feel a need to have a brand identity or maybe it was not worth the extra cost to print it on their documents, or maybe they though it came too close to violating the Second Commandment. Maybe some research on that sometime.

But these days it seems necessary to have a logo for brand identity, and if it is simple and can be reduced to a small size for your online avatar all the better. ECO clearly thought that having a unique (sort-of) logo was a worth while endeavor to put early effort into.

We will see where it takes them.

47th Session Of The General Assembly Of The Presbyterian Church Of Australia

The 47th Session of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia began this evening at the Chinese Presbyterian Church in the Surry Hills area of Sydney, N.S.W.  The GAA meets on a triennial basis with much of the governance of the church happening in the General Assemblies of the state churches (e.g. Presbyterian Church of Australia in the state of New South Wales ).

The incoming Moderator of the General Assembly is the Rev. David Jones of Hobart.  In honor of the 450th anniversary of the Scottish Reformation a special service will be held on Tuesday night with the message brought by the Rev. Dr. Sinclair Ferguson.

That is pretty much the extent of the official information I can find.  For the unofficial I recommend the Rev. Gary Ware.  His writing can be found on his blog mgpcpastor’s blog where he has already posted a GAA 101 with a great overview that will satisfy both the GA Junkies as well as the more casual observer.  He has also posted a two part entry about the opening session and worship service.  His writing includes nice details as well as pictures of the Assembly.  I should also say that the Rev. Ware is on Twitter at @gjware but it looks like his tweets are generated automatically when he updates his blog.  I’ll keep watching for other Twitter users or a hashtag and update if I find anything.

So my best wishes for a productive meeting from the PCA and I look forward to the news that will come out of it.