Tuesday, June 20, 2006

PUP Voting Underway

According to Les, Recommendations 1-4 of the Peace, Unity, and Purity Task force report passed the General Assembly Plenary by a vote of 459-41-7. Were they handled as a group? They had identical vote tallies.

Recommendations 5, 6, and, 7 have no action listed at this time.

3:41pm -- the minority substitute motion fails; A motion to refer recommendations 5 and 6 to the presbyterys was made and seconded and is now under debate.

Well, it's 5:45pm and I'm back from picking up my car from Firestone. Recomendations 5, 6, and 7 passed the Plenary by a vote of 298-221-1.

Two things are worth noting.

First is that recommendation 4, relating to using alternate forms of discernment, was amended to make it clear that this does not apply to final actions, which are governed by Robert's Rules unless otherwise provided for.

The second is that recommendation 5 was amended to provide for not only the process used by governing bodies to be subject to review, but to allow the results to be reviewed as to their constitutionality. The comment that accompanied this is as follows:
Comment: The success of this proposal is dependent upon all governing bodies taking all standards of the church seriously and applying them rigorously in the examination process. All governing bodies are encouraged to develop resources to ensure that this happens.
Recommendation 6, passed with 5, asks that all existing Authoritative Interpretations be retained, and that no new ones be passed, and further that no changes to existing constitutional statements on Christology, ordination requirements, and sexuality be proposed:

a. the 217th General Assembly (2006) to approve no additional authoritative interpretations, to remove no existing authoritative interpretations, and to send to the presbyteries no proposed constitutional amendments that would have the effect of changing denominational policy on any of the major issues in the task force’s report, including Christology, biblical interpretation, essential tenets, and sexuality and ordination.

b. all church members to acknowledge their traditional biblical obligation, as set forth in Matthew 18:15-17, Matthew 5:23-25, and in the Rules of Discipline in the Book of Order, “to conciliate, mediate, and adjust differences without strife” prayerfully and deliberately (D-1.0103) and to institute administrative or judicial proceedings only when other efforts fail to preserve the purposes and purity of the church.
For better or for worse, this is now approved by the General Assembly. I do not share the vehement opposition of some, although I respect their opinions. The two changes made to the recommendations improve the final product, and personally, I do not see a tectonic shift taking place in the PC(USA). Sessions and Presbyteries that are already inclined to ignore constitutional standards will, no doubt, continue to do so. Recommendation 5 takes note of this and (if I understand it correctly) adds the review of the outcome, in addition to the review of the process. Does this mean that an ordination can be set aside, if the process was unconstitutional? I'm not sure. We'll have to see how this goes down in practice.

In any case it was a busy and, no doubt, grueling day at General Assembly. Let's pray for forbearance and strength for all our commisioners.

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