» The purpose of the proposed amendment
» The results if one votes for the proposed amendment
» The results if one votes against the proposed amendment
» Additional comments — personal observations about the proposed amendments.
Amendment 10-A G-6.0106b
This proposed amendment aims to replace the current ordination standards with new wording.
To vote for this amendment is to change the current standards to the new wording. This amendment indicates the responsibility to determine someone’s fitness for ordination rests with the governing body (presbytery for ministers; sessions for elders and deacons). The proposed amendment would affirm Historical Principles G-1.0302 and G-1.0306. The focus in the proposed standards is on the questions for ordination.
To vote against this amendment keeps the current standards in place. This amendment affirms Historical Principles G-1.0302 and G-1.0306. The focus in the current standards is on one’s behaviors (i.e., fidelity and chastity in sexual matters and self-acknowledged practices that the Confessions call sin).
Comments: This marks the fourth time since 1997 that the presbyteries have been asked to consider changing G-6.0106b. Each time before, the proposed amendment has failed.
The question before us is about standards for ordination. I would suggest the appropriate question, and therefore debate, is which of the standards (the current one or the proposed one) will assist the church best in determining if someone is suitable for ordination as a minister (by the presbytery) or as an elder or deacon (by the session).
Amendment 10-B G-9.0203b
This proposed amendment aims to clarify a process whereby a stated clerk not performing his/her duties can be removed from office.
To vote for this amendment is to define a process to remove someone from office due to lack of performance of his/her duties.
To vote against this amendment means that you are fine with the wording as it currently exists.
Comments: This is a helpful proposed amendment that allows a governing body to remove someone from office without having to use the judicial process.
Amendment 10-C G-9.0404
This proposed amendment would require each governing body to have a sexual misconduct policy.
To vote against this amendment would leave things as they are, allowing governing bodies the choice of developing a policy or not.
Comments: Unfortunately, we live in an age where the misuse of power and sexual misconduct are rampant. Churches existing in this kind of situation must have safeguards and procedures in place to provide a safe environment for folks to worship and serve our Lord. While a policy will not guarantee that sexual misconduct will not occur, it is a witness of the church to the world showing how serious it is about having a safe environment in our congregations, and our respect for and care of our members and visitors.
Amendment 10-D G-9.0801a
This proposed amendment aims to affirm the principle of parity among ministers and elders serving on presbytery and synod nominating committees.
To vote for this amendment would be to require the parity of ministers and elders serving on presbytery and synod nominating committees.
To vote against this amendment would be to maintain the current formula for membership on these nominating committees, with elders not being required to serve.
Comments: This amendment reaffirms the issue of parity between ministers and elders in governing body decision-making groups. The current language does not require that elders serve, though it does not exclude them. The proposed language also affirms the diversity of men and women serving, which has become the standard “DNA” of the PC(USA).
Amendment 10-E (see Amendment 10-F) G-11.0407
This proposed amendment would create registers for Certified Educators, Certified Associate Christian Educators, and Commissioned Lay Pastors in the presbytery.
To vote for this amendment would add these two registers to the responsibility of the stated clerk for presbyteries.
To vote against this amendment would maintain the current status of maintaining a roll for Certified Christian Educators and Certified Associate Christian Educators.
Comments: This proposed amendment assumes that “rolls” are for persons who are members of the presbytery with voice and vote. However, the “register” of persons in a presbytery is for persons who have some kind of relationship with the presbytery without necessarily having voice and vote. Since Commissioned Lay Pastors and Certified Educators may have voice and vote at presbytery meetings, a roll for those qualifying for such responsibilities could be maintained.
Amendment 10-F (see Amendment 10-E) G-11.0407 and G-14.0730
This proposed amendment would clarify the status of Certified Christian Educators in a presbytery.
To vote for this amendment provides a way to recognize the status of Certified Christian Educators who are elders to have voice and vote at presbytery meetings.
To vote against this amendment would maintain the current language saying in effect that presbyteries “may” grant privilege of the floor to Certified Educators and privilege of the floor and vote to Certified Educators who are also elders.
Amendment 10-G G-12.0100
This proposed amendment seeks to provide a means to downsize the purpose and function of synods without eliminating that level of governing body.
To vote for this amendment would be to provide a procedure to have an administrative Synod with two functions: review of presbyteries and judicial proceedings.
To vote against this amendment would be to continue all synods in their current form.
Comments: Through the years, the governing body known as synod has provided leadership on a regional basis, often functioning as the institutional agency of the denomination (i.e., colleges, children’s homes, retirement homes, etc.). However, those functions have shifted to individual boards of trustees; presbyteries have taken over the programmatic function that synods once held; and the continued cost of maintaining an office with few functions is poor stewardship. This amendment is a middle ground to downsize synods to the two essential remaining functions.
Amendment 10-H G-13.0108, G013.0111a, G-13.0202b
This proposed amendment parallels proposed Amendment 10-D. In this case, the amendment relates to the nominations process for the General Assembly. See description at Amendment 10-D.
Amendment 10-I W-4.4003h, W-4.4004a(2), W-4.4006b(2)
This proposed amendment would add prayer to several of the questions in the ordination and installation services.
Comments: Who could be against including prayer as part of the ordination questions asked? The amendment proposes inserting in the question to a minister, elder, or deacon and the questions to a congregation their intention to pray for the congregation being served or the person being ordained/installed.
Amendment 10-J D-6.0103
This proposed amendment would provide a way for someone to challenge a stay of enforcement in the judicial process.
To vote for this amendment would provide a process that would clarify procedures for obtaining a stay of enforcement.
To vote against this amendment would leave the process in place that is currently being followed.
Comments: This amendment seems to clarify process and procedures; it also provides a way for a stated clerk not to have more influence in the process than he/she ought to have.
Amendment 10-K D-6.0306, D-8.0302, D-13.0302
This proposed amendment would allow judicial cases to be dismissed when there is no challenge to the ruling of the Moderator and Clerk.
To vote for this amendment would help expedite the judicial process.
To vote against this amendment would keep the current procedure in place.
Comments: Seems like a good proposal.
Amendment 10-L D-10.0202
This proposed amendment aims to protect persons from double jeopardy.
To vote for this amendment would provide a way to cease actions by persons who continuously file allegations against others.
To vote against this amendment would continue the current practice that every time an allegation is filed against someone, an investigative committee has to be formed to investigate the allegation.
Comments: Sometimes people have a personal vendetta or issue with another individual and use the judicial process to harass the person. This amendment would restrict investigations only to new allegations not previously made.
Amendment 10-M D-10.0401
This proposed amendment would expand the time in which charges could be filed against an individual.
To vote for this amendment would change the time in which a charge against a person could be filed from the current three-year time frame to five years.
To vote against this amendment would maintain the current three-year time frame in which to file a charge against someone.
Comments: This proposal allows for more time for justice to occur in situations; however, the longer time frame could cause testimony and memory to fade on the clarity of actions, diminishing the possibility of a good outcome.
Amendment 10-N D-13.0102, D-13.0106
This amendment would define who might file a first level of appeal in a case.
To vote for this amendment would permit only the person found guilty to initiate an appeal.
To vote against this amendment would maintain the current status in which either party may appeal a decision.
Comments: In the secular courts, if a prosecutor or plaintiff fails to make their case, they cannot appeal the defendant’s acquittal to a higher court. However, in the church, if the prosecutor or plaintiff believes that the court of original jurisdiction has failed to act justly, the present policy allows that party to appeal as well.
Amendment 10-0 D-13.0404
This amendment would remand for a new trial an appeal of “not guilty,” which is sustained by the Permanent Judicial Commission.
To vote for this amendment would clarify the location for a new trial in a case of a “not guilty” verdict being sustained by the PJC.
To vote against this amendment would leave the matter unclear when “not guilty” verdicts were sustained by the PJC.
Comments: As with the other Rules of Discipline proposed amendments, this one deals with procedures and process and would be helpful to the PJC and all parties involved.
CARSON RHYNE is general presbyter, Presbytery of the James in Richmond, Va.