An overture from the Presbytery of Homestead is asking the 2014 General Assembly to require synods and presbyteries to seek consultation before any possible reorganization of synod or presbytery boundaries.
Overture 028 asks the GA to respond to any plan for comprehensive reorganization of synod or presbytery boundaries by encouraging presbyteries to consult with synods and surrounding presbyteries to determine appropriate functions within synods and whether boundaries of synods of affected presbyteries should be changed to meet the needs of affected congregations.
A recommendation from the Mid-Council Commission 2 (MCC-2) — appointed by the 220th GA in 2012 — to reconfigure the current synod structure also will be presented to the GA. The proposal, adopted Jan. 15, 2014, in Dallas, Texas, calls for a reconfiguration of synods from 16 to eight larger regional bodies by the 222nd General Assembly (2016). If those boundaries are not established by 2016, the proposal asks the 222nd GA moderator and the stated clerk to appoint an Administrative Commission to assist those synods in the establishment of boundaries to complete the reconfiguration by the 223rd GA (2018).
The Homestead overture has received a concurrence from the Presbytery of John Calvin and will be addressed at the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Detroit, Mich., June 14-21.
The rationale for the overture notes that the “needs of presbyteries and congregations vary greatly” and a “one size fits all” mentality may not be appropriate.
The overture continues, “The functions ascribed to synods are necessary to the efficient and effective functioning of the whole system of governance, and if a particular synod’s functions are reduced or eliminated, it is the affected presbyteries in that synod that must ‘take up the slack.’ Hence, it is those same presbyteries who should initiate any needed change in their region, not the General Assembly determining one solution for the whole church.”
The measure goes on to point out that presbyteries first created synods, not the General Assembly, therefore, any decisions regarding the appropriate functions, operation and boundaries of synods would be best left to the affected presbyteries and their synod(s).
It also points out that the current Form of Government, in effect since 2011, allows for considerable flexibility in synod function and structure within the PCUSA, up to and including the reduction of function to only judicial process and administrative review of presbyteries (G-3.0404). The rational cites recent action regarding the Synod of Alaska-Northwest as an example of synods and presbyteries using the Form of Government as guidance to reduce the function of a synod when they find it appropriate, accomplishing such a move without a General Assembly directive.
The official GA web site can be found here. The Layman’s coverage of the 2014 GA can be accessed here.