Monday, June 9, 2014

General Assembly (2014) #1

Introduction to the General Assembly

            The 221st General Assembly (2014) is scheduled for this June 14 to 21 in Detroit. We are grateful for our team of commissioners who are already preparing for this important service to our Church. Jim Speedy and I will also attend the gathering; please watch for my updates and reflections which will be regularly posted on my blog. 
            Already all the action items that will be coming forward to this General Assembly can be studied and reviewed electronically. The website, with lots of background information on the Assembly, is at or simply Google on PC(USA) General Assembly. At the Assembly all the action is considered using a special program named PC-Biz. You may find this program at or simply Google on PC-Biz. Within the PC-Biz program you may click on the “Resources” tab to find a list of all the “Business” and all the “Overtures” coming to this Assembly. You may click on the “Committees” tab to see all the fifteen committees of Assembly; clicking on any particular committee will bring up all the action items which are on that committee’s agenda.
            Action items to the General Assembly come forward in three distinct paths. There are, of course, many “Communications.” For example, the World Council of Churches brings their greetings. There are also “Recommendations” from other agencies within the Church to the Assembly. For example, there is a list of Recommendations coming to the Assembly from the General Assembly Mission Agency. But most important are the “Overtures.” Overtures are action items to be considered by the Assembly that have been approved by presbyteries. Overtures typically originate with an individual session, are approved by that session’s presbytery and sent forward to the Assembly. Almost all of the controversial issues facing the Assembly come forward as Overtures. This is very important. Thus the most important items coming before the Assembly originate with a particular session within a particular congregation. This reflects the connectional nature of our Church. Our Church is individual congregations connected together into a system of governance and mission. Our General Assembly, and the actions it considers, is driven from the grassroots of the Church. Overtures are initiated by particular sessions.

            Please pay attention to this year’s General Assembly. Let us engage together the many important issues facing us.