LOUISVILLE — With 74 days to go before the 2016 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) convenes in Portland, leadership of the assembly – including moderators and vice-moderators of the assembly’s 14 committees and those in other roles – have gathered in Louisville for three days of training.
Typically, in previous years, this leadership briefing wouldn’t take place until about three weeks before the assembly actually opened its doors. This time, however, a change in the standing rules meant that commissioners to the assembly had to be named at least 180 days before the start of the assembly, which runs June 18-25 in Portland.
With commissioners named earlier, that means committee leadership – chosen from among those commissioners – also could happen earlier, which gives the leaders a little more breathing room in organizing the work and beginning to build community.
Here are a few tidbits of what’s been discussed so far:
- Tom Hay, director of operations for the Office of the General Assembly, said about 85 overtures have come in so far, with about a quarter dealing with how the General Assembly works, or the structure of the PC(USA). There’s a sense, Hay said, that Presbyterians want “a vision for who we want to be as a church.” Also gaining momentum, he said, are issues related to the environment and racial justice.
- People should no longer use the PC-biz app to try to access reports coming to the assembly – that app is no longer being used. Instead, business of the assembly can be found at pc-biz.org via computers or mobile devices.
- Gradye Parsons, the denomination’s stated clerk, is asking all participating in the assembly to wear mission t-shirts on June 23, as a way of showing “a gigantic visual of just how broad and wide is the ministry of the Presbyterian church.”
- “Be risk takers,” said Heath Rada, moderator of the 2014 General assembly, bringing greetings to the leadership.
- “This is a very critical assembly,” Parsons said. “Don’t let anyone tell you people don’t care what the church has to say to the world. It just isn’t true.”
The leadership briefing continues through April 6.