The Synod of Boriquén (Puerto Rico) has submitted an overture to the 221st General Assembly Presbyterian Church (USA), asking that it remain as a synod no matter how many synods ultimately result from the recommendations coming from the Mid-Council Commission II.
“If, as a result upon recommendations of the Mid-Council Commission II to reconfigure synod boundaries and to reduce the number of synods from 16 to eight by the 222nd General Assembly (2016), the Synod of Boriquén and its constituent presbyteries petition the General Assembly to retain the Synod of Boriquén as one of the configured synods,” reads Item 05-02.
The overture comes after the MCC-2 in January adopted a report for submission to the GA that recommends the synod reduction, following up on the work of the MCC-1 panel, which recommended to the 220th GA in 2012 that synods should be eliminated as ecclesial bodies but could continue as missional partners for the PCUSA’s 172 presbyteries.
Overture 05-02 references the rapid transformation of the United States into a culturally diverse society, which influences the growth and future of the church, evidenced by a growing number of Hispanic/Latinos and Spanish-speaking members joining congregations in Puerto Rico. It also points out that the Synod of Boriquén and its presbyteries (the Presbytery of the Southwest of Puerto Rico, the Presbytery of the Northwest of Puerto Rico and the Presbytery of San Juan) are the only governing bodies within the PCUSA “that fulfill entirely in Spanish the mission given by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:19 to ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’”
“Our language and heritage are essential to carrying out our ministry,” the overture reads.
In its rationale for the overture, the Synod of Boriquén acknowledged that the ecumenical and interdenominational relations of G-3.0401a in the Book of Order apply to all synods, directing them to “provide that the word of God may be truly preached and heard.” But the overture references the uniqueness of the synod.
“… our geographical location and the language and heritage shared with our brothers and sisters of the Caribbean and Latin American regions have developed alliances and ecumenical relations that continue to mutually enrich our ministry and mission in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean countries. Our alliances, relations and active memberships in the Alliance of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches in Latin-America (AIPRAL) and the Latin-American Churches Council (CLAI) allows us to carry the ministry and mission of the PC(USA) beyond the shores of the island.”
The rationale also notes that teaching and ruling elders, members and leaders of the Synod of Boriquén have served and continue to serve in different positions at the national Office of the General Assembly, General Assembly committees, commissions and task forces contributing significantly to the mission within the PCUSA.
San Juan Presbytery and Southwest (Puerto Rico) Presbytery have provided concurrences for the overture.
The 221st General Assembly will be held June 14-21 in Detroit, Mich. The official GA web site can be found here. The Layman’s coverage of the 2014 GA can be accessed here.