One of the changes in the Standing Rules of the General Assembly enacted by the 221st (2014) General Assembly was to enable the office of moderator to be shared by co-moderators. I’m wondering if there is anyone out there thinking of going that direction.
The position of co-moderator is not new to many councils, but would be a first for a General Assembly. The trigger, according to the Standing Rules, is when two commissioners notify the stated clerk of their intention to stand for election together as co-moderators. During the election process they are considered as a team on the ballot. Once elected they would determine how to share in fulfilling the duties of the office.
Since the age of biennial assemblies began in 2004, moderators have been making an increasing use of their vice moderator for help fulfilling the long term between assemblies. Two years is a time-consuming slog for teaching or ruling elders who have full-time jobs in addition to service as moderator. There are so many meetings to attend, ministries to support and communities to visit that a vital vice moderator can make the burden more manageable.
But some people only want the moderator and all of us are better at some things than others. So the 221st assembly allowed for two people to run together as equal co-moderators, imagining them sharing in the ministry and encouraging flexibility in leadership. Two moderators taking on the tasks as a team without a vice moderator.
Like most dreams, there will doubtless be unexpected consequences (is anyone ready for the Outlook article “Gracious separation agreements when co-moderating goes bad”?). Still, Co-moderating could be a natural for some people who find that this is the one route that allows them the opportunity for such an office.
As the assembly itself continues to evolve, why shouldn’t the office of moderator model that progress? I believe that the commissioners of the 221st assembly gave the church a new tool for transforming our time together as the one national council. It is a bold leap of imagination.
So I’m just wondering – is this one of those rules that will lay dormant and languishing for many years before it is removed for lack of interest? Is it a dream without a dreamer?
Anyone interested in being a GA co-moderator?
Thomas D. Hay is the director of operations and associate stated clerk for OGA.