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Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ◆ 223 General Assembly 2018
June 16, 2018
Kindom building for the 21st Century.
Three teams of candidates stand for moderator of GA223 Choice is two co-moderator slates, one moderator/vice-moderator pair by Eva Stimson LOUISVILLE — Three slates of candidates are standing for moderator of the 223rd General Assembly. The election will take place this evening. Two pairs are seeking to be co-moderators, continuing the pattern initiated by current co-moderators Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston. The other slate consists of a moderator/vice-moderator pair. They are: Ruling Elder Chantal D. Atnip, Presbytery of Carlisle, moderator and the Rev. Ken Hockenberry, Presbytery of Chicago, vice-moderator A ruling elder and clerk of session at Pine Street Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Chantal Atnip has been treasurer of the Synod of the Trinity since 2005 and has attended the past four General Assemblies. She says she felt the call to stand for moderator in a worship service at a synod gathering in April 2016. Atnip brings a varied church background to her quest for moderator. Born in France, where her Catholic father was stationed with the U.S. Air
Force, she was named for French saint Jane Frances de Chantal. After her first birthday, her family moved back to the United States. Atnip grew up attending First Presbyterian Church in Vero Beach, Florida, and was confirmed in that congregation. In college, Atnip became involved in a Methodist campus ministry. She and her husband, Robert G. Atnip, a vascular surgeon, belonged to Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, while Robert was in medical school — “a formative time in both of our faith journeys,” she says. The two were members of Congregational and United Church of Christ congregations while living in Boston. At Pine Street, Atnip has served on the board of trustees, taught Sunday school, sung in the choir, volunteered at the church’s soup kitchen, and helped manage a major capital campaign. Presbyterians may not all think alike, she says, but “we’re still working for the same Jesus.” A New Jersey native, Hockenber-
Front row,left to right: Chantal Atnip, Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, Eliana Maxim. Back row ,left to right: Ken Hockenberry, Cindy Kohlmann, Bertram Johnson.
ry graduated from PC(USA)-related Grove City (Pennsylvania) College and Princeton Theological Seminary and has done doctoral work—as well as serving on the staff and faculty of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Since February 2016, he has served as interim pastor of Carter-Westminster United Presbyterian Church in Skokie, Illinois. His wife, Judy, is also a pastor in the Presbytery of Chicago. “I bring an experienced presence in
the Presbyterian church,” Hockenberry said. “I’m a cradle Presbyterian and I have a high commitment to the church. I bring a calm, seasoned wisdom to how the church can be effective in mission and ministry.” Prior to going to Skokie, Hockenberry served for twenty-one years as pastor of Beulah Presbyterian Church in Louisville. From 1996–2014 he also served as stated clerk of the Presbytery See Three teams p.8
Preparing for General Assembly blends traditions and talents
Opening GA223 worship will be multi-cultural, multi-sensory
by Chris Keating
by Chris Keating
ST. LOUIS – Crafting an event as large and complex as General Assembly involves the blending of old and new and the participation of thousands of volunteers. Preparations for the 223rd General Assembly (2018) have been underway for more than four years and have involved the efforts of every church in the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy as well as partners from neighboring presbyteries. From cutting banners to creating gavels, and from recruiting See Blends traditions and talents p.2
ST. LOUIS – Triumphant brass and organ, meditative notes from a Native American flute and the voices of a mass choir of more than 200 St. Louis–area Presbyterians will blend together at the opening worship service of the 223rd General Assembly, Saturday, June 16, at 11 a.m. Members of the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy’s Committee on Local Arrangements (COLA) have planned a bold, multi-sensory, multi-cultural opening liturgy that will be grounded See Opening GA223 p.6
St. Louis–area Presbyterians making sure GA223 is a “hands-on” experience
Symphonic brass, Native American flutist and liturgical dancers included
91-year-old St. Louis Presbyterian, Jim Otto, maker of the GA223 moderator’s gavel. (Photo by Chris Keating)
The Way Forward
The Middle East YAAD Journal
Woodworkers Pat Slaydan, Larry Keene and the Rev. David Marshall constructed the Assembly’s communion table from oak pews reclaimed from the former College Avenue Presbyterian Church in Alton, Illinois. The congregation was the successor of a church founded by Presbyterian minister and abolitionist journalist Elijah Lovejoy, who was martyred for his anti-slavery views. (Photo credit: Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery)
BOP, PILP, PPC, and FDN Peacemaking, Immigration General Assembly History
Theological Education and Evangelism Paid parental leave
Kindom building for the 21st Century.
GA223 backgrounder: The Way Forward
Saturday June 16, 2018
Blends traditions and talents from p.1
Three major reports mandated by GA 222 on denominational roles, structure and future to be considered by Assembly Committee 4 by Mike Ferguson LOUISVILLE – The long and sometimes contentious work of three groups – the Way Forward Commission, the All-Agency Review Committee and the 2020 Vision Team – will shape much of the debate and discernment The Way Forward Committee will undertake during the 223rd General Assembly, which meets June 16–23 in St. Louis. The first two groups recommend restructuring the denomination’s A Corporation, the corporate structure of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). They also seek to strengthen the role of the stated clerk, who they say “speaks to and for the church in matters of faith and practice except as the General Assembly directs otherwise.” They want the 2018 General Assembly to form a “Moving Forward Implementation Commission” to, among other tasks, ensure that GA actions on their reports are implemented. The All-Agency Review Committee wants the six PC(USA) agencies to study together the per capita model and its ability to fund the Office of the General Assembly and the Presbyterian Mission Agency, and to explore “alternative and creative funding resources for both.” The 2020 Vision Team spells out a vision for the entire denomination, calling on the PC(USA) to be prayerful, courageous, united, serving and alive. During listening sessions, the team said it heard “growing excitement about new ways of doing and being the church,” “frustration with systemic and structural barriers to adaptive change that will enable us to meet the challenges ahead” and “anxiety about finances at the congregational, mid-council and General Assembly level.” Rather than restructuring the A Corporation, the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board asks that the General Assembly divide the A Corporation into two corporate agencies: the General Assembly Corporation and the General Assembly Mission THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY NEWS Published daily, June 16-23, by Office of General Assembly Communications in cooperation with Presbyterian Mission Agency Communications Managing Editor/Publisher: Jerry Van Marter Associate Editor: Gregg Brekke
Corporation. The request for a “deliverance,” the permission to divide, is the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s response to the recommendations of the Way Forward Commission and the All-Agency Review Committee. Other business items for The Way Forward Committee to consider include: • Appointment of a team to review the current per capita system for funding councils higher than the session. The Presbytery of Newton says “dismantling, changing or supplementing the system of per capita apportionment is not a simple or linear process but one that will take time, conversation, experimentation and diverse recommendations.” • A resolution from the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) that says all six agencies of the PC(USA) should be “intentional and proactive” in hiring and retaining employees with theological training and fluency in languages other than English. It seeks the creation of an Office of Translation and Interpretation and encourages all councils of the church to conduct meetings in languages “common to their constituencies” and offer American Sign Language interpretation. • Another resolution from ACREC recommending that the six agencies use an external, professional race auditor “who can best expose systemic bias and prejudice” and “suggest actions toward becoming racially just and equitable employers.” •C hanges in the Organization for Mission (part of the Manual of the General Assembly) and the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board Manual of Operations, proposed by the PMA board. Proposed changes include reducing the size of the board and altering its composition and term lengths.
Designer: Mark Thomson Reporters: Pat Cole, Erin Cox-Holmes, Eleanor Ferguson, Mike Ferguson, Theo Gill, Rick Jones, Chris Keating, Emily Enders Odom, Eva Stimson, Gail Strange, Duane Sweep, Fred Tangeman, Shane Whisler. Copy Editors: John Filiatreau, Jennifer Cash
COLA volunteers painting the large labyrinth that will be available for walking and meditation at the St. Louis Convention Center, site of the 223rd General Assembly.
ushers to building communion tables, local Presbyterians have made certain that preparing for General Assembly was a hands-on endeavor. The Committee on Local Arrangements (COLA) was just getting organized when St. Louis found itself immersed in the national headlines following the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. At the same time, Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery was struggling with its own internal financial and leadership issues. Some wondered if planning for GA would be too much. COLA pushed ahead, however, enlisting the help of Presbyterians across the area. Even the hands that built the gavels to be used by the new moderators bear the thumbprint of Presbyterian history. Lifelong Presbyterian and amateur woodworker Jim Otto, a member of Calvary Presbyterian Church in south St. Louis County, volunteered to craft gavels for use at the Assembly. Otto, age 91, followed a pattern he had devised for another project. When it came time to select the wood for the gavels, there was no debate. “Got to have Missouri walnut,” said Otto. “It’s my favorite.” Otto is a Presbyterian legacy. He grew up in the former Bellevue Presbyterian Church in Caledonia, Mo., about 80 miles south of the St. Louis area. The church was founded in 1816 and is now closed. It was considered the oldest Presbyterian church west of the Mississippi River and remains a local historical site.
After Otto served in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War, he and his wife, Frieda, remained active Presbyterians. He’s served as an usher and a deacon – but never as a ruling elder. “They’ve asked me,” he says, laughing, adding that he’s always turned down the request. The handiwork of other area Presbyterians will be seen across the convention center. Woodworkers Pat Slaydan and Larry Keene worked with the Rev. David Marshall to construct the Assembly’s communion table from oak pews reclaimed from the former College Avenue Presbyterian Church in Alton, Ill. Though the pews do not date back to the church’s origins, the congregation was the successor of a church founded by Presbyterian minister and abolitionist journalist Elijah Lovejoy, who was martyred for his anti-slavery views. Some area Presbyterians wrote liturgies and published a devotional booklet for the Assembly. Others spent several weekends creating a paper-lace banner designed by noted Presbyterian artist Ellen Phillips. The banner employs the imagery of a DNA molecule to embody themes of kinship and confluence. In an artist’s note, Phillips explains that she was inspired by the Assembly theme of kindom building. “It did not take long for me to simply cut to the chase,” she says, “because it seems so very obvious when we pay attention to the basic material that really proves we all are kin: the DNA molecule.” a
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Kindom building for the 21st Century. 3
GA223 backgrounder: Middle East Issues
Advocating for first amendment rights to speak in support of Palestinians leads list of proposals for Assembly Committee 12 by Rick Jones LOUISVILLE – Defending the right to speak in support of Palestinians and other citizens living without full citizenship and under occupation will be on the agenda of the Committee on Middle East Issues when the 223rd General Assembly meets June 16–23 in St. Louis. An overture from the Synod of the Covenant opposes U.S. and state anti-BDS legislation (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions). The synod urges commissioners to “defend and advocate” for citizens, companies and organizations to exercise their freedom of speech without suppression. The synod also calls for the repeal of state statutes that “seek to impose civil penalties or unconstitutional restrictions” on nonviolent BDS resistance. The Synod of the Covenant is also asking the General Assembly, through the Office of Public Witness and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, to continue to “advocate for and witness to the human rights of all Israeli citizens regardless of their religious or ethnic minority status.” A comment on the synod’s overture from the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns cites threats to the human rights of citizens of Israel who may be Christian, Muslim, Misrahi (Eastern) Jew, Ethiopian Israeli, women, and LGBT persons. “There are more than 50 laws—and more are being proposed—that discriminate against certain minorities,” the comment says. “Discrimination in housing, employment and education are just some of the areas that are highlighted by this overture.” An overture from the Presbytery of Grace calls for the creation of a task force of PC(USA) staff, committees and mission networks to examine a call by the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine (NCCOP) for ecumenical solidarity in supporting justice for Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and refugee camps. The task force would make recommendations and bring a full report to the 224th General Assembly (2020). An overture from the Presbytery of Philadelphia focuses on the protection of children in Israel and Palestine. It condemns the militarization of Palestinian children forced to dig tunnels, serve as messengers for terrorist organizations and more. It also condemns the production of propaganda that “dehumanizes Israeli or Palestinian children or attempts to ‘cleanse’ the historical narrative of the Palestinian and the Jewish people.” Committee 12 will also consider an overture directing the Stated Clerk of
the PC(USA) to reach out to all U.S. government leaders, seeking an end to the conflict in Syria. It also calls on the U.S. government to reopen Syrian refugees’ entry into the United States and to expand the number of refugees admitted. Other items on the committee’s agenda include: • A call for PC(USA) staff and churches to engage in dialogue
with Jewish colleagues on the Israeli occupation of Palestine • An overture seeking action to urge the real estate company RE/ MAX to stop facilitating the sale of property in Israeli settlement colonies • A resolution calling for various ministries to develop policy recommendations on the status of Jerusalem
DISCOVER SCOTLAND Church Groups Choir Tours Presbyterian Heritage Visit with us in the Exhibit Hall or email for details
YAAD Journal Claire Wineman, Presbytery of Denver
While preparing for GA, I’ve felt called to do many of the things asked of all commissioners and delegates: reviewing overtures, keeping up with the issues in the news, and, especially, praying. The process has brought up many questions for me regarding what guidance I need to ask of God as I ready myself to travel to St. Louis. Even though I’ve been a Presbyterian since I was born, I’ve never so deeply considered my role in the church and how it fits in with the many talents and ideas of my family in Christ. In particular, what does it mean to be a Presbyterian today, in a world that simultaneously seems so wonderful and terrible that I sometimes never truly know what to think? And most of all, what does it mean to be a young Presbyterian? The gathering of YAADs at General Assembly demonstrates our investment in where the church is going, no matter how uncertain or challenging that future might be. We are all a piece of the living, breathing body of the PC(USA), trusted by God to do what is right, and blessed with the opportunity to do so together in the coming week.
Rev. Jim Wallace, Director firstname.lastname@example.org
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Kindom building for the 21st Century.
Saturday June 16, 2018
GA223 backgrounder: BOP, PILP, PPC, and Foundation Minister compensation and Jarvie Commonweal among topics to be considered by Assembly Committee 13 by Eva Stimson LOUISVILLE – Just compensation for ministers, an elder-care program in the New York City area, and confirmation of the president of the Presbyterian Foundation will be on the agenda of Committee 13 of the 223rd General Assembly, which meets June 16–23 in St. Louis. Committee 13 will address items of business related to four of the six national agencies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): the Board of Pensions (BOP), Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program (PILP), Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC) and the Presbyterian Foundation. The BOP is asking for Assembly endorsement of Living by the Gospel: A Guide to Structuring Ministers’ Terms of Call. The guide is intended to be a resource for mid-councils, committees on ministry, committees on preparation for ministry, search committees and congregations seeking to establish just compensation practices. The document also outlines significant new programs designed to help small employers, in-
novative new ministries and recently ordained ministers who are burdened with educational debt. Two presbyteries have submitted overtures raising concerns about the administration of the Jarvie Commonweal Fund. The fund was established in 1925 by a wealthy lifelong Presbyterian, James N. Jarvie, to assist older adults in the New York City area “who in their declining years find themselves without sufficient means of support.” An overture from the Presbytery of Huntingdon (13-01) asks the Assembly to create an administrative commission to work with the Synod of the Northeast to assess issues related to management of the endowment, which it states is now valued at $90 million. An overture from the Presbytery of New York City asks the Assembly to create a special committee to ensure that administration of the Jarvie Commonweal Fund complies with donor restrictions. The overtures raise concerns similar to those cited in a commissioners’ res-
olution that was rejected by the 222nd General Assembly (2016). Over the past two years, representatives of the Jarvie Program and the Presbyterian Foundation have conferred with concerned parties in six presbyteries seeking to address issues related to the program. In its comments on the overtures, the Foundation, which administers the Jarvie Fund through a constituent corporation, the Board of National Missions, says the overtures continue “a lengthy series of unsuccessful efforts to overturn an administrative decision made three years ago … .” The decision replaced the Presbyterian Mission Agency (at its request) with a New York– based health care company to provide services to Jarvie beneficiaries. Since the transition to a new service provider, the Foundation asserts, the Jarvie Program has added 23 new beneficiaries while “reducing administrative costs and ending a multiyear pattern of deficits.” Beneficiaries have been surveyed twice, and none “has expressed
dissatisfaction in any way.” In 2017, a full-time chaplain was hired to provide spiritual care and counseling to Jarvie beneficiaries. A recommendation from the Foundation (13-07) asks the Assembly to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Jarvie Commonweal Service and to affirm the successful transition and ongoing work of the program. The Assembly is also being asked to confirm the election of Rev. Tom Taylor to a third term as president and chief executive officer of the Foundation. In Taylor’s previous two terms, the Foundation reversed a downward trend in giving and increased the number and dollar amount of new gifts, achieving a record of $72 million in 2017. Under Taylor’s leadership, the Foundation has devised online giving services now in use by more than 500 congregations. It also has improved investment performance while maintaining the PC(USA)’s commitment to socially responsible investing.
Join in the celebration of Gradye Parsons’ new book by getting your copy signed! Stop by the Board of Pensions booth at General Assembly Monday, June 18, 12:30 –2 p.m.
2000 Market Street • Philadelphia, PA 19103-3298 • © 2018 The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
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Kindom building for the 21st Century. 5
GA223 backgrounder: Peacemaking, Immigration and International Issues
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by Eleanor Ferguson
Looking to expand your theological education? Earn your graduate certificate at Pittsburgh Seminary.
Mission, advocacy around the world is focus of Assembly Committee 9 LOUISVILLE – A proposal endorsing “affirmations regarding the welfare of our neighbors in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador” will be considered by the Assembly Committee on Peacemaking, Immigration and International Issues at the 223rd General Assembly, which meets June 16–23 in St. Louis. The proposal, from the Presbytery of the Pacific, recommends creating a “mission co-worker position to facilitate a Meso-American faith-rooted advocacy witness in Central America.” The mission co-worker would work in partnership with the Reformed Calvinist Church in El Salvador and other churches in the Northern Triangle of Central America and Mexico “to develop a Meso-American refugee and immigration advocacy network.” The overture calls the church to train leaders in El Salvador and “invest in peacemaking in the Northern Triangle,” with the goal of reducing migration and reintegrating people who were returned from the U.S. to El Salvador. The Presbytery of Shenango has submitted an overture that directs the Stated Clerk to condemn the conflict in South Sudan and urge the U.S. government to pressure the country’s leaders to seek peace in the region. To do this, the overture suggests putting pressure on the government in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, as well as the militia groups supported by former Vice-President Riek Machar and other armed groups to adhere to a cease fire. It also calls on the United Nations Security Council to help ensure safe passage for humanitarian aid into camps for internally displaced people. An overture from the Presbytery of the Cascades asks the Assembly to encourage PC(USA) presbyteries to engage in prayer and preparation for peace on the Korean peninsula and to work with the National Caucus of Korean Presbyterian Churches. In other business before the committee: • The Presbytery of New York City
calls on the U.S. president along with executive and congressional leaders to promote voter education and transparent elections in Madagascar and to take steps to prevent human trafficking in that country. • Seeking God’s Peace Through Nuclear Disarmament is the goal of an overture from New Hope Presbytery. The overture calls all members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to work to achieve nuclear disarmament. It urges support of “No First Use” legislation and calls upon the U.S. to “begin the process of complete, irreversible and verifiable nuclear disarmament.” • A resolution on human rights in Yemen, from the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns, would direct the Stated Clerk to write to the president, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense, “urging them to actively participate in seeking a political settlement to the war,” and to “suspend U.S. government military support of Saudi Arabia in its bombing and blockading of Yemen.” • A resolution from the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) “affirms a reformed commitment to a just and durable peace among nations and peoples based on the vision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” • San Jose Presbytery encourages the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program to develop curriculum to help young adults “discern their position on war and violence before registering with the Selective Service System for possible military conscription.” • New York City Presbytery seeks to direct ACSWP to study “the current socioeconomic and political realities in Central America” and report its findings and recommendations to the 224th General Assembly in 2020.
Today at GA • Opening Worship, 11:00 a.m. • Presbyterian Outlook luncheon, 12:30 p.m. • Opening plenary, 2:00 p.m. • Moderators election, 7:00 p.m.
• • • • •
Church Planting and Revitalization Ministry Missional Leadership Theological Studies Urban Ministry
ON THIS DATE IN SAINT LOUIS
Two hundred years ago, the 1818 Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. General Assembly in Philadelphia passed a resolution printing 1,500 copies of a pastoral letter written by its moderator, Jacob Jones Janeway. The letter urged Presbyterian churches to guard against the “crime of drunkenness,” the vice of gambling (including lottery tickets and horse racing), and dancing. It also warned against the “dangerous amusements of theatrical exhibitions”—especially comedies. “We believe all will agree that comedies at least, with a few exceptions, are of such description that a virtuous and modest person cannot attend
the representation of them without the most painful and embarrassing situations.” A century later, prohibitions were again stressed. The PCUSA General Assembly of 1919 in St. Louis passed a resolution reiterating “it’s strong and emphatic disapproval of all secular uses of the Sabbath Day,” including “all games and sports” and “unnecessary traveling and excursions.” The soonto-form National Football League did not concur. St. Louis’s first NFL franchise, the All-Stars, would play its opening game against the Green Bay Packers on a Sunday in 1923. – David Koch, Reference Archivist
Kindom building for the 21st Century.
Saturday June 16, 2018
GA223 backgrounder: Theological and Church Growth Issues and Institutions Connection between theological education and church growth to be explored by Assembly Committee 14 by Emily Enders Odom LOUISVILLE – With an expanded focus – and a new name reflecting its broader mission – the Assembly committee customarily charged with considering matters related to theological issues and institutions will now also encompass church growth and Christian education. “The new name speaks to the needs of the church today, and how a focus on theological institutions is also a commitment to theological issues and church growth,” says the Rev. Lee Hinson-Hasty, senior director of funds development for the Theological Education Fund (TEF) at the Presbyterian Foundation. “If you care about congregations growing spiritually and numerically, then I would imagine you would want to support future ministers at our Presbyterian seminaries who will play key roles in that growth for generations.” Hinson-Hasty says the Committee on Theological Education (COTE) is recommending the Assembly recognize two distinguished trailblazers in theological education and will be hosting the Assembly’s biennial Theological Education Awards Breakfast in their honor.
At the eagerly anticipated gathering of leaders and educators from across the church – to be held Thursday, June 21, at 7:30 a.m. – the Rev. Katie Geneva Cannon and the Rev. Douglas Oldenburg will receive the Award for Excellence in Theological Education. The award is the highest honor in the PC(USA) for those who teach, lead and support theological education. Cannon, professor of theology and ethics at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Va., is the first African-American woman to be ordained in the former United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Oldenburg, a former president of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga., also served as moderator of the 210th General Assembly (1998). “A new feature at the breakfast honoring these groundbreaking leaders will be the screening of two professionally produced tribute videos,” Hinson-Hasty notes, “a highlight that our commissioners, delegates and guests are sure to enjoy.” Because a major focus at the 222nd General Assembly (2016) was on approving a revised Directory for Worship for the PC(USA), not surprising-
ly there are several overtures to this year’s Assembly seeking to revisit the document. The Directory – part of the denomination’s Constitution – gives standards and norms for the ordering of worship in PC(USA) congregations and councils. It also lays out the theology that underlies Presbyterian worship, “outlines appropriate forms for worship and highlights connections between worship and Christian life, witness and service.” “The PC(USA) Directory for Worship is a living document, always being reformed according to God’s Word and Spirit,” says the Rev. David Gambrell, associate for worship for the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA). “These overtures seek to clarify, refine and expand on our constitutional liturgical theology.” The business before Committee 14 falls largely into the following categories, according to the Rev. Barry Ensign-George, associate for theology in the PMA’s Office of Theology and Worship: • Worship: Proposed revisions to the Directory for Worship (Items 14-02, -03, and -04) • Theological insight amid present
national realities, especially systemic racism: Proposals regarding confessional and theological statements that address the PC(USA) and our present context in the United States (Items 14-01, -05) • Christian education: The report of the Special Committee to Study the Reformed Perspective of Christian Education in the 21st Century (14-06) • Theological education: A set of items related to COTE and to the seminaries in relationship with the PC(USA) through membership in COTE (Items 14-07, -08, -09, and -10, plus 14-A and 14-Info) • Church growth: An update on developments in the 1001 New Worshiping Communities initiative The final item, COTE’s Self-Study – a report that doesn’t come to every Assembly – should be of particular interest to Assembly participants, Hinson-Hasty says. “It begins with the reminder that things are changing in the church, a call for us all to pay attention to our changing denominational landscape and context.”
part of the COLA team responsible for planning opening worship. “For many commissioners who come from churches where attendance is small, being part of a service of more than 2,000 people is overwhelming,” Andrews saya. Members of the St. Louis Symphony Brass will be playing as worshipers gather. Accompanied by organist Andy Peters of Second Presbyterian Church, St. Louis, the musicians will provide a bold backdrop for the As-
sembly’s first official gathering. As worship begins, the mood will shift to include a Native American flutist, representing the first people to gather by the waters of the Mississippi River. “As the service begins, the tone changes from European/American brass and organ music to sounds that have intentionally been selected to represent a variety of different nationalities in both texture and tone,” says Shawn Portell, minister of music at Webster Groves Presbyterian Church and one of the planners of the service. Worship will fill the entire space of the convention center and will include video screens projecting liturgy and related images. A massed choir from local Presbyterian congregations will sing and will lead the congregation in the premiere of the hymn “Draw the Welcome Circle Wider,” by Mary Louise Bringle. The hymn was commissioned for the Assembly and includes images of being gathered as God’s kin. Other music will include an original anthem by African composer George Mensah Essilfie, African-American spirituals, music sung in Spanish and hymns from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal.
Andrews notes that the service will set the tone for the coming week. She expects the co-moderators’ sermon, based on Joshua 1:1–9, will dovetail with the Assembly’s theme of “Renewing the Vision: Kindom Building for the 21st Century.” As Presbyterians gather by the banks of the Mississippi, says Andrews, Joshua’s calls to “be strong” and cross into the promised future will be represented by dancers accompanying a soloist singing the spiritual “Wade in the Water.” Twenty water bearers representing the diversity of gender, orientation, ethnicity and geography of the local presbytery will fill baptismal fonts. Baptismal themes will be incorporated throughout the week, including a liturgy Saturday that will connect the commissioning of the Assembly, the election of moderators and the necrology of teaching elders. Giddings-Lovejoy’s COLA worship team included musicians, pastors, and elders, who created liturgy for the opening and closing services as well as the daily worship services. All worship services will be held in the Assembly’s meeting space.
Opening GA223 from p.1 in baptismal imagery and will include the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. The Rev. T. Denise Anderson and the Rev. Jan Edmiston, co-moderators of the 222nd General Assembly, will preach. “It’s generally one of the best-attended worship services at General Assembly,” says the Rev. Susan Andrews, moderator of the 215th General Assembly (2003). Andrews, now an honorably retired member of Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery, is
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GA223 backgrounder: Church Polity and Ordered Ministry
Paid parental leave, amending the Book of Order, renunciation of jurisdiction to be considered by Assembly Committee 6 by Erin S. Cox-Holmes LOUISVILLE – Here’s a fact: Presbyterians support paid leave for new parents. In 2014, the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to encourage presbyteries and denominational agencies to adopt policies that provide for at least six weeks of paid leave without exhausting other paid time off. And in 2016, the 222nd General Assembly voted to encourage the six agencies of the General Assembly to evaluate their leave policies to provide paid parental and family leave. A question: How should congregations and denominational agencies pay for adequate leave for parents to care for children new to their families, whether through birth, adoption or fostering? When the 223rd General Assembly convenes on June 16, a chief agenda item for the Committee on Church Polity and Ordered Ministry (06) will be determining how parental leave is paid for and whether parental leave policies should be standardized throughout the denomination. The Presbytery of Boston has sent three overtures that would require the Board of Pensions (BOP) of the PC(USA) to provide 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all members of the BOP. Nine presbyteries have concurred with some or all the overtures. In addition, the Twin Cities Area Presbytery is asking the General Assembly to create standardized parental leave policies that would provide 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all staff, pastors and certified educators
employed at all levels of the PC(USA). The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns has submitted a resolution to require the adoption of quality family and parental leave policies across the denomination. “Parental leave” refers to leave for parents to care for a child new to the family, while “family leave” expands the policy to include senior care and other circumstances. The Board of Pensions has responded with advisories to the overtures affirming the importance of parental and family leave. The BOP comments explain that there is a difference between leave policies and the question of whether benefits should be expanded to include paid parental leave. Policies are the work of councils to create. Expanding benefits to include paid leaves would need to be funded by dues, which the BOP says would have a major financial impact. In other business, the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest is requesting that a two-thirds majority vote of presbyteries be required to amend the Book of Order. All the advisory committees recommend that this overture be disapproved. Another major area of business will involve grappling with issues of restorative justice, when a person who previously renounced the jurisdiction of the PC(USA) during a disciplinary proceeding seeks to be readmitted to a leadership position. Describing the pathway for restoration continues to be a linguistic challenge to make sure the process and wording are accurate-
ly represented in the Book of Order. The Office of the General Assembly is recommending that all overtures that would amend the Rules of Discipline be referred to the Rules of Discipline Task Force, which is revising the Rules of Discipline and will bring suggested changes to the 224th General Assembly (2020). Other matters before the committee include requests to: • Allow congregations to elect ruling elders without requiring them to assume a seat on the session • Prohibit public endorsement of individuals running for elected office • Resolve a conflict between the Book of Order and the laws of some states on property that is held in trust for the PC(USA)
• Refine language in the Book of Order to make consistent references to ministers of the Word and Sacrament, previously referred to as teaching elders • Grant standing to the Administrative Personnel Association in the Form of Government • Clarify oversight for ministers of the Word and Sacrament laboring outside the bounds of their presbytery of membership • Permit a member of the session to moderate a session meeting in emergency situations • Clear up language about the composition of nominating committees •C onsider recommendations on three requests for authoritative interpretations
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8 Three teams from p.1 of Mid-Kentucky. A familiar figure at General Assemblies, he has served as parliamentarian, an assembly committee leadership team member, and coordinator for floor parliamentarians at General Assemblies since 1998. The Rev. Eliana Maxim, Presbytery of Seattle, and the Rev. Bertram Johnson, Presbytery of New York City – co-moderators Eliana Maxim is associate executive of the Presbytery of Seattle and co–vice moderator of The Way Forward Commission. She is vice moderator of the National Hispanic/Latino Caucus of the PC(USA) and has served on other church bodies, including a GA committee to study the Belhar Confession. Bertram Johnson, minister of justice, advocacy, and change at Riverside Church in New York, is one of three Presbyterians on the staff of the interdenominational congregation. He is a member of the NEXT Church Leadership Team and has served on the General Assembly Nominating Committee. Though currently ministering on opposite sides of the country, Maxim and Johnson have been close friends for 15 years. They met in Seattle, before either of them was ordained to the ministry. Johnson was working at Seattle’s University Presbyterian Church, his journey to ordination on hold until a constitutional change opened the door to ordination for LGBTQ people in the
PC(USA). His pre-ordination career included stints working as an oncology chaplain, in regional theater, and in programs for people with HIV/AIDS. He spent a year after college as an intern with Sojourners in Washington, D.C. Maxim was born in Colombia and grew up bilingual and bicultural. She was a TV news producer for 12 years, then enrolled in seminary while working as director of children and family ministries at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church, near Seattle. Johnson grew up Baptist and Maxim grew up Catholic, but both found a home in the PC(USA) as adults. And both say their early sense of being out of step with the dominant culture— Johnson as an African American gay man and Maxim as a Latina woman— has fueled a commitment to justice. “Seeking justice is at the core of who I am as a follower of Christ,” says Maxim. She sees herself as “a disrupter of the status quo.” As a denomination, “we’ve done some significant work on paper in terms of commitment to justice,” Maxim observes. “How do we embody those things we’ve written about and reflect them in our lives?” Johnson says he would like to help the PC(USA) “reclaim its role as an agent of God’s justice.” My vision is to deepen the foundation that’s already established,” he says. He wants to challenge the church to be more inclusive and “to dismantle the systems and structures that prevent the Holy Spirit
Saturday June 16, 2018
from working.” Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, Presbytery of Tropical Florida, and the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann, Presbytery of Boston – co-moderators Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri is an ESL teacher and a ruling elder at First Spanish Presbyterian Church in Miami. She served in 2017 as moderator of the Presbytery of Tropical Florida. Cindy Kohlmann has pastored congregations in Ohio and Massachusetts and currently serves as Resource Presbyter for the Presbyteries of Boston and Northern New England. Though from very different backgrounds, the two both describe themselves as lifelong Presbyterians, called to serve the church they have loved since childhood. Cintrón-Olivieri, who lived in Puerto Rico until 2011, says she first came to appreciate the connectional nature of the PC(USA) as a Youth Advisory Delegate to the 205th General Assembly (1993). At age 19, she was asked to serve on the session of Caparra Terrace Presbyterian Church in San Juan. These experiences made her feel like “being part of something that was bigger than me,” she says. Her grandparents were both church leaders, and she fondly recalls riding with her granddad to presbytery meetings. Kohlmann uses the term “#presbynerd” to describe her attraction to Presbyterianism. “Going to my first General Assembly in 2012,” she says, “I felt
like a kid in a candy store.” She says that observing the election of a moderator “planted a seed in my heart” that with with prayer and encouragement from friends, grew into a desire to stand for co-moderator. “I like the co-moderator model and what it says about shared leadership,” Kohlmann explains. She knew she wanted a running mate with different life experiences. While praying about it, she says, “my heart kept being drawn to Puerto Rico.” A mutual friend connected her to Cintrón-Olivieri, who had also been sensing God’s call. “We both feel very strongly that God drew us together,” Kohlmann says. “Our visions are very similar,” says Cintrón-Olivieri, adding that she would like Presbyterians “to think of ourselves as active participants in the church and world” whose witness reaches beyond the sanctuary on Sunday mornings “to the grocery store, the workplace, and with our families,” she declares. As Resource Presbyter, Kohlmann designs leadership training opportunities, connects pastors and congregations with local and denominational resources, and helps start sometimes difficult conversations about structure and vision in the midst of change. She says she enjoys “being with congregations and sessions, helping them see where God is already at work and where God is inviting them to step out in faith in a new way.”
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