Monday, April 7, 2008

Preparation of General Assembly (2008), Part One

General Assembly (2008), Part One

I begin here a series of occasional articles in preparation for the meeting of our General Assembly this June 2008. Once again all the business at the General Assembly will be transacted electronically. Everyone wanting to participate in the proceedings of the meeting must connect with the web-based program PC-biz which can be found at the home page of the General Assembly meeting ( I have found this program to work very well; it is easy to navigate and easy to find information.

There is already a long list of business items which the General Assembly will address. This includes 81 different overtures and 10 different recommendations and reports. The overtures have not yet been assigned to individual committees. By scanning the list of overtures, we may gather a sense of what will be the vital topics before this year’s Assembly.

At the top of the list of important business items is Recommendation One from the Form of Government Taskforce which was distributed in paper-copy across the church months ago. This is a very important recommendation which offers a complete re-writing of the Form of Government, the largest section of our Book of Order. This Recommendation is now available at PC-Biz as Recommendation One. This Recommendation has already sparked fourteen overtures. (Overtures concerning the Form of Government Taskforce Report: 16, 34, 43, 47, 49, 57, 58, 59, 61, 67, 68, 71, 72, 81).

As I scan the list of overtures these topics also seem very important:
Overtures concerning the Taskforce Report on Peace, Unity and Purity (Overtures 5, 28, 44, 83).

Overtures concerning the Middle East (Overtures 6, 26, 31, 52, 63, 75).

Overtures concerning the Book of Order G-6.0106b (Overtures 9, 11, 17, 40, 46, 61, 60, 69).

In addition, I highlight several Recommendations which may be important action items for us to review in preparation for the General Assembly:

Recommendation Five, a policy paper on U.S. energy policy, The Power to Change: U.S. Energy Policy and Global Warming.

A list of several recommendations concern the administration and organization of the General Assembly Council:
Recommendation 23 is a comprehensive Mission Funding strategy;
Recommendation 25 is a large amendment concerning financial issues that is proposed to be added to the General Assembly Council’s Organization for Mission;
Recommendation 29 is a simple proposal to change the name of the General Assembly Council to the General Assembly Mission Council;
Recommendation 31 is a proposed General Assembly Council Mission Work Plan for 2009-2012;
Recommendation 32 proposes revisions to the General Assembly Council Manual of Operations;
Recommendation 33 proposes a revised General Assembly Council Organization for Mission;

In response to the influential mission conference held in Dallas in January, Recommendation 34 proposes the church affirm and adopt “An Invitation to Expanding Partnership in God’s Mission” which was written as the concluding affirmation at the mission conference.

Recommendation 35 is a proposed policy statement of serious mental illness.

Recommendation 37 is a proposed policy statement on homelessness.

Recommendation 40 proposes a Social Creed for the Twenty-First Century which builds on the
historical foundation of the Social Creed of the Churches which was first adopted in 1908, one hundred years ago.

Recommendation 41 proposes approving the report, Lift Every Voice: Democracy, Voting Rights, and Electoral Reform.