I’m in Portland for the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). There is a lot on the agenda for the week and each morning I’ll be posting a video round up of the news from the prior day. There is no question that the week will be filled with controversial decisions but one of the very first votes may reveal how things are likely to go.
- Jan Edmiston (@jledmiston) and Denise Anderson (@thesoulstepford)
- David P. Parker (@DavidPParker) and Adan Mairena (@elburque)
Some have wondered if electing co-moderators would, in and of itself, be out of order and in direct violation of The Book of Order (BOO).
BOO 3.0501 says “Each person elected Moderator shall be enrolled as a member of the General Assembly until a successor is elected and installed.” It is notable that here and in each other place in BOO, “moderator” when referring to the GA Moderator is singular. No provision is provided for GA co-moderators, that I’ve been able to find.
BOO 3.0105 says “Meetings shall be conducted in accordance with the most recent edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, except when it is in contradiction to this Constitution.”
Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, in the section of interpreting bylaws says, “If the bylaws authorize certain things specifically, other things of the same class are thereby prohibited. There is a presumption that nothing has been placed in the bylaws without some reason for it. There can be no valid reason for authorizing certain things to be done that can clearly be done without the authorization of the bylaws, unless the intent is to specify the things of the same class that may be done, all others being prohibited. Thus, where Article IV, Section I of the Sample Bylaws (p. 585) lists certain officers, the election of other officers not named, such as a sergeant-at-arms, is prohibited. [Page 589-590, RONR, 11th ed.].
Should someone call for a point of order the retort will likely be that the Standing Rules allow for Co-Moderators.
b. At the discretion of the candidate, he or she may choose to stand for election with a Co-Moderator or with a Vice Moderator candidate. When choosing to stand with another Moderator candidate, both candidates: (1) must fulfill all the requirements specified in these Standing Rules, (2) notify the Stated Clerk of their intention to stand for election together, and (3) will together determine how to fulfill the duties of the office.
However, the BOO is a superior rule to standing rules of GA. If the desire to have Co-Moderators instead of a Moderator and Vice Moderator then they GA should have amended the BOO. The GA has assumed a power they do not have, i.e. the ability to elect an officer in violation of a provision in BOO. And yet, the only choice for commissioners is to vote for Co-Moderators so, Co-Moderators the PCUSA shall have.
You can see and follow all the business on-line PC-Biz system.
As the business now stands, here are my thoughts.
This site also includes the PCUSA’s constitutional documents, the Manual of the General Assembly, a schedule for the week and a docket, which is subject to continual change as the meeting progresses or gets bogged down, whichever the case may be. Business will continue to be added today as Commissioner’s Resolutions are filed. By Wednesday, you’ll want to review how all the business was filtered through the committee process because the GA will actually be voting on recommendations from its 14 committees, not the business items in their current form.
Plenary sessions are scheduled to be live streamed on the GA 222 Home Page. If you want to follow us on Twitter we’ll be posting @PresLayman. The official General Assembly twitter @presbyGA is kind of a play-by-play but there are many interesting perspectives posted using the hashtag for the meeting #ga222.