PORTLAND, Ore. – The 2016 General Assembly voted on June 22 to approve a combined consent calendar, made up of items which received overwhelming support when considered by the assembly’s committees.
The combined consent calendar is the result of a change in the standing rules the assembly approved in 2012 – with the intent that commissioners spend less time on matters on which there’s substantial agreement, leaving more time to discuss issues on which the assembly is divided or finds particularly significant.
With new procedures put in place at the 2014 General Assembly, business items that were approved by at least a 75 percent “supermajority” vote from one of the assembly’s committees generally were eligible to be placed on the consent agenda – although committee moderators lifted from the consent agenda items with constitutional implications and those they thought merited more discussion.
So on June 22 – during its first plenary session following two days of committee meetings – the assembly approved a consent agenda with 56 items. Eight items were removed from the consent agenda (any commissioner could ask that an item be pulled for more discussion). The assembly then approved the consent calendar by a voice vote.
Here is a brief synopsis of some notable items the assembly passed via the consent agenda.
Reserve fund for Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission budget
10-05: The Presbyterian Mission Agency board brought this measure to rescind a policy from 1990 governing how much the PC(USA) needed to keep in its unrestricted reserves. The impetus for doing so was the looming depletion of the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s unrestricted reserve fund – which was expected to run out by 2017. Rescinding the 1990 policy will mean the board will no longer have a required minimum reserve amount set by the assembly, and that it need to set aside money regularly to try to build back up unrestricted reserves. The Mission Coordination committee voted 74-0 to rescind the 1990 policy.
PC(USA) Mission Work Plan and mission budgets for 2017-2018
10-15: By a vote of 70-1, the Mission Coordination committee:
- Approved a revised 2016 mission budget.
- Approved the 2017-2018 budget totaling $63,530,297 in 2017 and $63,450,591 in 2018
10-14: The committee voted 73-0 to approve the Presbyterian Mission Agency Work Plan for 2017-2018, which has the six Great Ends of the Church as its theological foundation and includes the following directional goals:
- Evangelism and Discipleship;
- Servant Leader Formation;
- Justice and Reconciliation.
11-26: In response to an overture from Presbiterio Del Noroeste, this recommendation asks that Presbyterians urge Congress to provide help for Puerto Rico to be released from its deep indebtedness. The resolution directs the PC(USA) stated clerk to send a letter to Congress and asks Presbyterians nationwide to urge Congress to grant the island territory the same kinds of discretion and access to bankruptcy laws that the 50 states enjoy.
11-10: The assembly approved an overture from the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy calling for the PC(USA) to be engaged in “radical reconciliation and active engagement in a new civil rights movement.”
Changing presbytery boundaries.
05-02: The Mid Councils committee voted unanimously (42-0) to restore the boundaries of the Presbytery of the Pacific to its status prior to revisions made in 2012. Changes were made in 2012 to allow two churches to become members of neighboring presbyteries. However both churches have now left the PC(USA) and are no longer members of those other presbyteries.
05-14 : The committee voted unanimously (43-0) to merge the presbyteries of Central Washington and Northwest Coast. Commissioners heard from overture advocate Dean Strong, the stated clerk for the Presbytery of Northwest Coast, who shared that presbytery committees have already merged and said things have been “working well.” Strong asked the assembly to approve the presbytery merger as a final step.
12-07: The overture – New Hopes and Realities in Cuban-American Relations: A “Nuevo Momento,” from the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy – leads the Church to celebrate the relationship between the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Iglesia Presbiteriana-Reformada en Cuba (IPRC) as sister churches, celebrate and strengthen our partnership with the IPRC with “special attention to incarnating the principles and commitments of mutuality and interdependence,” and update our partnership agreement between the PC(USA) and IPRC in light of new hopes and realities as we assess together new opportunities for mutual mission. The committee voted in favor: 46-2-0
Global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic
12-10: The overture – On Committing to Play an Active Part in the Global Response to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic – addresses the HIV/AIDS global epidemic that remains pervasive in the world by recommending that the assembly raise awareness of its continuous existence through commending it to congregations via acknowledgment, study and prayer. Two additions are included: one that encourages congregations to use existing methods of fundraising, such as the portion of the Peace and
Global Witness Offering retained locally, to be used toward this cause; and one that directs the stated clerk to designate the creation of a World AIDS Sunday. The committee voted in favor: 44-5.