General Assembly Preview

“Celebrate!” taken from Psalm 145.6-7 is the theme of the 32nd General Assembly, which will take place Wednesday, June 20 through Saturday, June 23 at First Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge, LA. The Commissioner’s Handbook can be downloaded from the EPC website (www.epc.org/2012GA-Documents). It has been mailed to commissioners who asked for a hard copy. A summary of what to expect follows:

Assembly Workshop

The Wednesday 2012 Workshop is “Celebrate among the Nations.” Our guest speaker is Rev. Dr. Christopher J.H. Wright, International Director of Langham Partnership International, founded by the late John R.W. Stott. A major missional leader and writer, Chris was Chair of the Lausanne Theology Working Group from 2005-2011. His most recent book is The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission (2010).

Officers to be Elected

On Thursday morning, Nominating Committee Chair RE Tom Reesor (Southeast Presbytery) will nominate RE Ken Roberts (West) as the Moderator of the 32th General Assembly. Upon his election, Ken will be installed as Moderator at the Thursday night worship service. TE Bill Dudley (Southeast) will be introduced Thursday morning as Moderator-elect. He will be formally nominated and elected on Saturday morning. Also on Saturday morning, the Assembly will act on the recommendation that the Stated Clerk be elected to a new three-year term.

Worship Services

Special guest Rev. Paul Mpindi, French team leader of “Back to God Ministries” (a radio and television ministry of the Christian Reformed Church in North America) will preach the opening and evening worship services on Thursday. Our new World Outreach missionaries will be commissioned at the Thursday evening service. Host pastor Dr. Gerrit Dawson will preach the Friday night worship service. Retiring 31st GA Moderator Doug Klein will deliver the message at the Moderator’s Communion service on Friday morning and Rev. Alec Flynt will preach on Saturday morning.

Church Planting

The National Outreach Committee-endorsed Church Planters Team will make a presentation to the Assembly on Thursday morning, with lunch meetings hosted by the Team on Thursday and Friday. Current and former church planters will lead us in prayer at the beginning and end of each business session.

Bart Hess Award

The award this year will be given to Waterbrook Community Church, Longs, SC (www.waterbrookcommunitychurch.com). Tom Clymer is the pastor.

Religious Freedom

Overtures from Alleghenies and Mid-America Presbyteries ask the Assembly to take a position against the impact of the Preventative Care Mandate on the exercise of religious freedom. The Overtures and Resolutions standing committee will review these overtures and make a recommendation to the Assembly.

Transitional Presbyteries to End

At the 27th General Assembly in 2007, the New Wineskins/EPC Transitional Presbytery and the National Transitional Presbytery were created. The period for transitional presbyteries comes to an end in June 2012.

New Presbyteries

The Interim Committee on Presbytery Boundaries, created at the 30th Assembly in 2010, will make its concluding report. Chaired by Mike Glodo, the Committee will present an updated statement on presbytery development for Assembly consideration. In addition, it will propose the creation of a new Great Plains Presbytery, which the Committee on Administration will be asked to study, develop and make a report to the 2013 Assembly.

Terms of Call

Central South Presbytery overtured this Assembly to consider a change in the public disclosure of terms of call for pastors. Mid-Atlantic, West and Pacific Presbyteries took action to support the Central South overture at their spring 2012 meetings. This overture will come to the floor from the Ministerial Vocation standing committee.

Book of Government Revision

At the 30th General Assembly in 2010, a special committee was formed to produce a revision of the Book of Government. The focus of this revision is to clarify and simplify language and process in this constitutional document. The committee, consisting of Howard Shockley, James Quillen and Ted Brandsma, has done this work. The Assembly will be asked to have the revision sent to sessions and presbyteries for study and comment including corrections, additions, and/or other pertinent information. The Committee will take this input and bring a proposal for approval at the 2013 General Assembly.

Position Papers Revised

The 30th General Assembly in 2010 asked the permanent Theology Committee to revise and update the Position Papers on Abortion and on the Value of and Respect for Human Life.” The Committee has done this work, which will be acted upon by this Assembly.

Fraternal Relations

The 31st General Assembly asked the permanent Fraternal Relations Committee to do a review of the EPC’s relations with other denominations and groups. In addition to its report to this Assembly, the Committee is proposing a revision to the definition of fraternal relations.

Board of Benefits

Due to the retirement of Benefits Director Michael Leighton this fall, and possible changes required by the new Federal health care mandates that will affect the EPC medical plan, the Assembly will consider a recommendation to expand the Board of Benefits by two members for one year. This will allow Board Chair Ron Horgan and Medical Sub-committee Chair John Baird to continue to serve during this important transition time.

Briefly:

  • The Assembly will consider a constitutional amendment clarifying the process whereby a minister may serve beyond the age of 70.
  • The Assembly will be asked to combine the Student Ministries and College Ministries Committees into a single ministry.
  • The Assembly will welcome fraternal guests Reverend Seth Yi representing the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and Reverend Woody Markett representing the Presbyterian Church in America.