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