Synod Overtures at General Assembly

by Nancy Talbot, Stated Clerk

For a first discussion and vote at General Assembly our overtures did very well.  The overture proposing to amend the Book of Order so that Sessions can ordain Ruling Elders for service beyond their congregation such as in a presbytery or a synod received much discussion both in committee and on the GA floor. This overture which expanded who is welcome at the governing tables of higher councils clearly resonated with YAADs, clergy spouses who cannot serve on many sessions and therefore cannot serve on any mid-council, and those engaging with immigrant fellowships and new worshipping communities. The overture lost by a slim margin and then was referred by an Assembly voice vote to the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA). 

The second overture which was a request for a constitutional interpretation of resolving tensions between different sections of the Book of Order resulted in the following affirmation from the Assembly. “The 222nd General Assembly recognizes the value of making room for all people at the table of decision-making in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We urge councils, at all levels, to actively consider ways to involve, in the whole life of the church, those previously left out from the table. This includes, but is not limited to, young adults, and those involved in new worshipping communities. We further recommend to the Synod of the Northeast to continue their productive conversations regarding this issue and bring to the 223rd General Assembly a tangible recommendation.” 

Thanks to all who spoke before the committees and on the floor in favor of these changes. We will work with COGA concerning the Ruling Elder Overture. In addition, we will continue discussions within the Synod over the next two years that include ways to shape the proposed constitutional interpretation as well as any additional overtures that address the concerns people had about the these changes and their implications. 

If you wish to be part of these ongoing discussions, please contact Nancy Talbot, Stated Clerk.