By Eva Stimson, Office of the General Assembly.
Presbyterian identity, environmental issues, and the election of at least two top denominational leaders will be among the matters of business topping the agenda of the 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Participants of the 2015 Polity Conference got a preview of next year’s assembly in plenary sessions today at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, site of next year’s assembly that will be held June 18–25.
“We have some big issues coming to this assembly,” said Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly. He encouraged presbytery leaders to train their commissioners well before sending them to Portland. “Help those folks be prepped so they can bring their best.”
Meeting in Portland has historic significance, said Tom Hay, director for assembly operations. The first General Assembly west of the Mississippi River was held at First Presbyterian Church in Portland in 1892.
In 1967, the assembly met in Portland and adopted The Confession of 1967. Special events are planned at next year’s assembly to highlight this confession.
Hay said there will be 594 commissioners to the 2016 assembly, 60 fewer than in 2014. In order to comply with the Standing Rules requirement of no more than a 3-to-1 ratio of commissioners to advisory delegates, the number of advisory delegates has been reduced to 198. Presbyteries wishing to send young adult advisory delegates to Portland must report their selected delegates to the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) by December 21.
Assembly business will be divided among twelve committees—and for the first time in many years, Hay said, there will not be a committee assigned to deal with sexuality issues. “Yes, Presbyterians can get together and not talk about sex,” he quipped.