Six special committees and task forces grew out of actions of the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In most cases, Bruce Reyes-Chow, moderator of the 218th General Assembly, appointed committee members.
Timelines are tight, given that five of the six committees are slated to make their final reports to the 219th General Assembly (2010) next summer in Minneapolis.
An update on the work of the six special committees:
Youth Ministry Task Force
The mandate given to this 15-member task force by the 218th General Assembly is “to seek input from youth, young adults, and adults … find and present model programs; and focus on the needs and development of youth ministries, and report back to the 219th General Assembly (2010) specific recommendations for designing and conducting various youth ministries under a ‘new vision’ for youth.”
The task force’s first face-to-face meeting was to take place June 11-15 during the Big Tent event in Atlanta.
Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage
Sub-committee work took up most of the meeting when this group of 13 gathered for the second time on June 18-20 in Louisville.
Four sub-committees will focus on completing initial drafts of particular pieces of the special committee’s mandate. Some areas of study included in the mandate are “the history of the laws governing marriage and civil union, including current policy debates; how the theology and practice of marriage have developed in the Reformed and broader Christian tradition; the relationship between civil union and Christian marriage; the place of covenanted same-gender partnerships in the Christian community.”
Special Committee to Consider Amending the Confessional Documents of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to Include the Belhar Confession in The Book of Confessions
The 15 members who make up this special committee held their initial organizational meeting June 21-23 at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. On the agenda was time for conversation with representatives from the Christian Reformed Church and The Reformed Church of America, two denominations that are also currently in the process of considering the Belhar Confession.
Special Committee on Correcting Translation Problems of the Heidelberg Catechism
This group of 15 is in the process of considering proposed changes to the catechism made by the 218th General Assembly. According to the assembly action, the proposed changes revolve around correcting “translation problems in five responses of the Heidelberg Catechism as found in The Book of Confessions and to add the original Scripture texts of the German Heidelberg Catechism.”
In addition to getting acquainted with each other at its first meeting in late March, committee members gave careful attention to the requirement in the Book of Order (G-18.0201b) that they consult with the governing body — in this case, Newark Presbytery — in which the overture originated. The consultation provided helpful information about the intent underlying the overture.
The committee also learned of a joint translation project of the Heidelberg Catechism being conducted by two other denominations. The committee anticipates further conversation about the implications of this project on their own work.
Committee to Prepare a Comprehensive Study Focused on Israel/ Palestine
The nine-member study team held its initial meeting in Washington, D.C., earlier in the spring. They reviewed the PC(USA)’s mission and social witness history, listened to a range of religious perspectives, met with State Department officials and began the theological and ethical analysis necessary for a report to the 219th General Assembly (2010).
Since its meeting, Byron Shafer (New York City Presbytery) has been appointed to the team to replace John W. Wimberly (National Capital Presbytery), who resigned.
The group is finalizing plans to travel to the Middle East from August 16 to September 1.
Climate for Change Task Force
The 218th General Assembly called for a special task force to “review the current Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity (AA/EEO) contracting and purchasing policies, and recommend revisions.” The eight members on the task force will hold its first meeting this fall.
Of the six special committees and task forces at work, this is the only one that will not make its final report to the 219th General Assembly next summer in Minneapolis. It will make an interim report next year, and deliver its final report to the 220th General Assembly in 2012.