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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Two by Two

It's not too often that Monmouth Presbytery sends an overture to the General Assembly, but just in case anyone's thinking about writing one, there's a possible change in the works that would affect how this is done.

The last General Assembly approved a constitutional amendment that would, for the first time, require a presbytery sending an overture to first convince another presbytery or synod to pass a similar overture. In other words, an overture would be treated something like a motion, with another presbytery being required to second it.

The reason for the change is to cut down on the business before the General Assembly. If an overture arrived in the office of the General Assembly without a concurring overture, the General Assembly Stated Clerk would simply hold it until a similar overture arrived. If that didn't happen, the proposal would fail for want of a "second."

That amendment is now being voted on in the presbyteries. If a majority of presbyteries concurs, it will become the law of the church.

The Office of the General Assembly has been thinking about how they would implement this change, should it gain the necessary number of concurring votes in the presbyteries.  Here's their implementation plan:

Amendment 12-F, currently being voted on by the presbyteries, recommends that section G‑3.0302d be amended to require that overtures have at least one concurrence from another presbytery or synod before the overture can be referred to the next General Assembly....If approved, Amendment 12-F will go into effect on July 7, 2013.

All overtures received before July 7, 2013 will be processed as usual and will be forwarded to the 221st General Assembly (2014).

Overtures received on or after July 7, 2013 will be processed as follows:

-If Amendment 12-F does not receive the necessary affirmative votes (87), there will be no amendment to G-3.0302d, and no change in the overture process.

-If Amendment 12-F receives 87 or more votes, the overture(s) will not be referred to the next assembly until at least one other presbytery or synod has timely concurred with it.

It will be the responsibility of the presbytery submitting the initial overture to secure the needed concurrence. Keep in mind that the deadlines for concurring with another overture are as follows:

120-day Deadline:   February 14, 2014   (amendment to/interpretation of Book of Order)
 45-day Deadline:   April 30, 2014          (all other overtures)

Overtures not receiving the necessary concurrence within the designated time limits above shall not be considered.

So, if you're considering writing an overture to the General Assembly, please remember: if this amendment passes, then overtures will be treated like the animals lined up at the gangplank to Noah's ark. "Two by two" will be the rule.

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