We are gearing up for an exciting but busy month of February, and we want to make sure you are in the know about what to expect from our two upcoming presbytery gatherings!
“First, why are we doing two meetings again?” The simple answer is we are playing catchup with the work of the General Assembly due to the pandemic—four years of work that needs to come before the presbyteries! In 2020, the General Assembly in Baltimore was transformed into an online assembly, which referred a vast majority of the work that was to come before the 2020 assembly to this past summer’s 2022 assembly. That means…drum roll please…we have now received 31 amendments to the PCUSA Book of Order with 135 pages of supporting documentation for our February business, all impacting the way we share our ministry together. That was (a little) too much to put into a single presbytery gathering without cutting some of the things that we didn’t want to cut (worship, learning, coordinating, etc).
“What are we doing on February 2nd?” Because we didn’t want the pandemic backup to disrupt our resourcing and coordination efforts as a presbytery, first up will be our Stated Meeting of the Presbytery, from 3:30-6:30pm. Highlights include: introducing our 2023 Presbytery theme of public witness, centering around a keynote lecture by Rev. Dr. J. Clinton McCann, Evangelical Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Eden Seminary on “The Climate Crisis in America and the Biblical Response”, considering joining the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Matthew 25 movement as a presbytery, fine-tuning our Legacy Policy for building sales, and being inspired in worship led by Rev. Ellie Stock, honorably retired pastor. It will be a full and wonderful day! And an expression of our values as a presbytery.
“What are we doing on February 18th?” This will be our Special Called Meeting for the business of the amendments to the Book of Order, scheduled to start at 9am. For this meeting, we are joining many other presbyteries that are devoting a single space to address the amendments in one focused meeting, opening with a short centering homily and prayer.
To streamline the business, our General Assembly commissioners are tailoring a recommended series of slates organizing the amendments into what may look like three omnibus motions, and then addressing the remaining ones individually. The docket for that meeting is still coming together, but here is a sneak peak of what the day might look like as the details come together:
- Slate #1: a first series of amendments primarily dealing with language changes and technology (GA Commissioners’ recommendation for 1 vote to cover all 6 items).
- Slate #2: a second series of amendments dealing with Boundary Training (GA Commissioners’ recommendation of 1 vote for 4 items)
- Slate #3: a third section of five votes concerning the Book of Discipline. While yes there is one vote for a sweeping change that if passes would render the other four moot, on the other hand, if that fails across other presbyteries, we need to be on the record for the other votes as well. (possibly 1 vote for 5 items)
- The remaining section of the remaining amendments were discerned to deserve space for attention on their individual merits, and will be taken up separately. (12 votes)
The docket will clarify exactly what the slates are, with hyperlinks to each motion. This is just an example of what it might look like as it comes together! But this way, instead of 33 votes, we could potentially have 15, which seems like a much more palatable approach! If you would like to read ahead, click HERE for the 135 page document with all of the amendments. That said, our presbytery commissioners on February 18th have the authority to reshape the agenda as you choose, and if any items need more attention, we will adjust as we go! But if the way be clear, we will have votes and ratifications completed before lunch on Saturday the 18th and be effectively caught up from the pandemic. We will make sure that material is available at last two weeks ahead of the February 18th gathering.
Why are both meetings Zoom only? Februarys in our part of the world are a beautiful grab-bag of sunshine and snowstorms—could be 50 degrees, could be 5 inches of snow. In order to be kind to our hosts sites who put time and expense into receiving us, we are playing it safe this month to simply meet electronically.
Who are our General Assembly Commissioners again? Our General Assembly commissioners until the next General Assembly are Karen Dumey, Ramona Williams, Jeff Ott, Amber Geiger, and our Young Adult Advisory Delegate Maggie Cleeland. Feel free to contact them if you have any questions!
In this together,
Rev. Ryan J. Landino
1001 Craig Road
St. Louis, MO 63146
Office Phone: 314-772-2395
Cell Phone: 314-409-9002