Appointments, nominations and mid-council commission passes quickly and smoothly at GA

The assembly passed the consent agenda at the Plenary 2 meeting of the 224th General Assembly on June 26 after removing five items for discussion.

The first of these items was 00-25, the confirmation of the Class of 2024 of the Board of Directors for the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program (PILP). The class included:

  • Thomas McNeill, a ruling elder from the Presbytery of Southern New England for an at-large position;
  • Olivia Smith, a teaching elder from the Presbytery of Denver for an at-large position;
  • Steven Bass, a ruling elder from the Presbytery of Seattle representing the Presbyterian Foundation;
  • Nicholas Yoda, a teaching elder from the Presbytery of Cincinnati;
  • Jesse Hite, a ruling elder from Charlotte Presbytery, for an at-large position; and
  • Rafael Medina, a ruling elder from the Presbiterio del Suroeste of Puerto Rico for an at-large position.

Nikki Cooley, a minister from Heartland Presbytery, spoke against the confirmation of this class. She said she didn’t know any of them personally and that she is confident that they are skilled, but noted that five of six are male, which would make the PILP board 13 male and 4 female. Cooley remarked that this distribution does not adequately represent the denomination.

Jim Rissler, the president of PILP was invited to respond. He stated: “This is not a standard for what we have seen in our past, we normally have more females on the board. In 2015, we had a majority of females on the board. We had some challenges over the last couple of classes in getting females on the board.” He went on to explain that currently the PILP board has a position open they are waiting to fill and they do not have female nominee at this time, but they will keep one nomination open in order to increase the number of females on the board.

Following this discussion, the resolution passed 436 to 34.

Up next was item 00-04, the approval of Jihyun Oh as associate stated clerk of the General Assembly. It was noted that she is a teaching elder who currently serves in the Office of the General Assembly as the director of Mid Council Ministries where she is responsible for the overall work of Mid Council Ministries and coordinating the Office of the General Assembly’s deployment of resources to support the work of mid councils.

The text of the resolution states, “Oh provides exemplary service to the church, is in good standing as a teaching elder, and is a faithful Christian leader who serves the church with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love. The stated clerk of the General Assembly enthusiastically nominates Jihyun Oh for election as an Associate Stated Clerk of the General Assembly.” There were no questions, no one spoke for or against this item. The final vote was 464 to 2.

The next item of critical business was resolution 00-28: Nominations to the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches. The 11th Assembly of The World Council of Churches will meet September 8–17, 2021, in Karlsruhe, Germany. The PC(USA) has been allocated two delegates. The delegates submitted to the General Assembly for consideration were Amantha Barbee, pastor of Oakhurst Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, and Neal Presa, associate pastor for family, connecting, and communications of Village Community Presbyterian Church in San Diego. There were no questions and no one to speak for or against this item. The vote was 470 in favor and 1 against.

The next item that assembly considered was 00-15. The General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations nominates to each General Assembly churches to be invited to send ecumenical advisory delegates to the subsequent assembly. This item included that list of ecumenical partners. Co-moderator Elona Street-Stewart noted that there would indeed be a 225th General Assembly despite the current challenges.

The international partners receiving an invitation include: The Presbyterian Church of Trinidad and Tobago, Iglesia Reformada Calvinista de El Salvador (Reformed Calvinist Church of El Salvador), Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu, Christian Church of Fiji and Samoa, Gereja Masehi Injili di Minahasa (Indonesia), Spanish Evangelical Church, National Evangelical Synod of Syrian and Lebanon, Presbyterian Church of Rwanda, Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar and South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church.

The partners from the United States and/or Canada that will receive an invitation include Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Progressive National Baptist, Inc., Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, Reformed Church in America and Korean Presbyterian Church in America. There were no questions and no one spoke for or against. The item passed 476 to 1.

The final overture considered in this session was 00-19: On Establishing a General Assembly Administrative Commission on Mid Councils. This item came from the Synod of the Northeast and seeks to establish a General Assembly Commission on Mid Councils for the purpose of deliberation and approval of mid council business that has significant time pressures such that it cannot wait for action or would suffer severely from having to wait for action until the 225th General Assembly in 2022. Functionally, it would give this commission the authority to act on behalf of the General Assembly in the two years that ordinarily passes between meetings.

With no questions and no commissioners speaking for or against, this item passed 453-14.

A closing prayer for the was offered by Esther Shin, a Mission Advisory Delegate from Egypt. Her prayer included these words: “Open our eyes, shake our wills, grant us holy desire that we may commit our lives to good works and acts of love and justice. As the people of the God of justice, we pray for those who are under the heavy weights of violence, systemic racism, and economic injustice. … As people of compassion, we pray for those in the midst of great pain and suffering. … We ask that you restore our awareness and compassion.”