John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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A couple of exciting news items from the 215th General Assembly, the annual meeting of the highest governing body of the Presbyterian Church (USA), of which I am a member and ordained elder.

* On Saturday, the Rev. Susan Andrews was elected moderator, or presiding officer, of the 215th General Assembly. She's the first woman pastor to be elected moderator, which I think is a big deal considering there are several Presbyterian denominations who don't ordain women at all. Also, she is, I believe, the first person to be elected Moderator from the National Capital Presbytery, of which I am also a member. (Also, I played a tiny, tiny part in her election: I was an elder commissioner to the March meeting of the National Capital Presbytery, and I voted in favor to the motion to endorse Andrews's candidacy.)

Being elected Moderator of the General Assembly is a bigger deal than it might sound from the title. In addition to moderating the meeting of the General Assembly, she will also serve as the public face of the church for the next year. The Moderator is sort of like a queen: she doesn't have any power to speak of -- doctrinal questions are voted on at the presbytery level, and the day-to-day operations of the Church are managed by the Stated Clerk -- but she's the public face of the church.

* On Tuesday, the Committee on Church Orders and Ministry approved an overture to repeal Section G6.0106b of the PC(USA) Constitution. G6.0106b is commonly known as the "fidelity and chastity" amendment, and it states that ordained ministers and elders in the Presbyterian Church (USA) must either live "in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness."

Since G6.0106b was added to the Book of Order in 1997, there have been two failed attempts to remove it, following the General Assemblies of 1997 and 2001. (I support the repeal and voted to repeal it when the issue came before Presbytery in 2001.) If the General Assembly accepts the recommendation of the Committee, the question will be referred to the Presbyteries. A simple majority of the 173 Presbyteries must approve any overture before it is ratified. But first the GA has to accept it; they rejected a similar overture last year. I've got my fingers crossed that it will be accepted by the GA and that it will be ratified this time around

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