PORTLAND, Ore. – The General Assembly Procedures committee, committee 03, spent most of June 20 working on recommendations from COGA (Committee on the Office of General Assembly). The committee recommended approval of COGA’s request to hold the 225th General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio, and the inclusion of the executive director of Presbyterian Women as a corresponding member at General Assembly.
The excitement of the morning was the recommended approval of Beth Shalom Hessel as associate stated clerk. Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons introduced the recommendation and Hessel addressed the committee. She said she felt called both to ministry and to academia and was grateful that God saw fit to meld those two callings with her work at the Presbyterian Historical Society.
“This position allows me to serve the church in strengthening our witness, in understanding who we are and who we have been so we can know where we need to go as a denomination and as people of faith,” Hessel said in her introductory remarks.
Hessel’s nomination was recommended unanimously by the committee with much enthusiasm and a standing ovation as she left the podium.
Further work of the committee included overture 03-04, which recommended moving the moderator elections to the end of the General Assembly week and expanding the work of committees to include deliberations prior to the assembly. The motion was separated and the discussion was lengthy.
Tom Phillips, a teaching elder commissioner from Holston Presbytery, said it would be impossible for moderator candidates to campaign during the week of General Assembly while also doing the business of being a commissioner. Zachary Young, a YAAD (Young Adult Advisory Delegate) from Eastminster Presbytery, added that they would have to “keep their smiling faces on all week.”
Augustine Write, teaching elder commissioner from Stockton Presbytery, said he’s excited about the creativity of this idea and that it encourages connectivity. Claudia George, ruling elder from Peace River Presbytery, concurred, saying, “It just makes sense.”
Ultimately, both were recommended for disapproval.
Other items considered include 03-01, which would change the rules on who could make oral presentations to commissioners and 03-11, which would increase the number of members of the Advisory Committee on the Constitution at General Assembly and suspend business to give the ACC time to consider particularly sticky questions. Both were recommended for disapproval.