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Updated: 28 min 42 sec ago

Committee recommends that Presbyterian pastors be permitted to perform same-sex marriages where they are legal

Tue, 06/17/2014 - 17:59

June 17, 2014

General Assembly News

Jerry L. Van Marter

Pastors in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) would be granted discretion to perform same-gender marriages in civil jurisdictions where they are legal if a recommendation from a committee at the 221st General Assembly (2014) is adopted by the full Assembly later this week.

The Assembly Committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues voted Tuesday 51-18 to recommend an authoritative interpretation of the denomination's constitution that removes the proscription that pastors could not perform same-gender marriages.

Being a disciple is really pretty simple: 'Follow Jesus,' pastor says

Tue, 06/17/2014 - 17:54

June 17, 2014

General Assembly News

Paul Seebeck

Discipleship is really pretty simple, says Brian Clark, organizing pastor of a successful new church development outside Washington, D.C.

“Discipleship is about following Jesus – nothing more, nothing less,” Clark said Tuesday at the Evangelism and Church Growth Disciple Making Breakfast at the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Social Justice Issues Committee disapproves call for a new abortion study

Tue, 06/17/2014 - 17:47

June 17, 2014

General Assembly News

Eva Stimson

Abortion, a recurring issue at Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assemblies, was one of the matters before the Assembly’s Social Justice Issues Committee.

An overture from the Presbytery of South Alabama related to abortion drew more speakers during the open hearings session than any other matter of business before the committee. Yet after a short discussion, the committee voted 50 to 17 to disapprove the measure. A motion later in the day to reconsider also was defeated.

Committee recommends rejection of making distinction between modern and ancient Israel

Tue, 06/17/2014 - 14:22

June 17, 2014

General Assembly News

Bob Sloan

Despite a general consensus that recent military actions by the present state of Israel are a grave concern, the Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations chose Tuesday to recommend rejection of a proposal that the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) make a distinction between "ancient" and "modern" Israel.

The issue came to the Assembly from the Presbytery of Chicago, prompted by the heading “God’s Covenant with Israel” in Glory to God, The Presbyterian Hymnal.

Immigrant worshiping communities help revitalize the PC(USA)

Tue, 06/17/2014 - 14:16

June 17, 2014

General Assembly News

Eva Stimson

New immigrant ministries are flourishing and producing leaders in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), leaders of the denominational efforts say.

“We have grown while other parts of the church are declining,” Rhashell Hunter, director of Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries/Presbyterian Women for the Presbyterian Mission Agency, said Monday during the New Immigrants and Emerging Ministries Luncheon at the 221st General Assembly (2014).

Committee approves advocating for tighter measures to fight gun violence

Tue, 06/17/2014 - 11:03

June 17, 2014

General Assembly News

Eva Stimson

Recommendations that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) advocate measures to prevent gun violence, including limits on ammunition, were overwhelmingly approved Monday by the 221st General Assembly (2014)'s Committee on Social Justice Issues and sent on for plenary approval later this week.

Other recommendations covered trauma crisis counseling, maternal and child nutrition, and food sovereignty.

PMA 'vitality' initiatives win endorsement by Assembly committee

Tue, 06/17/2014 - 10:42

June 17, 2014

General Assembly News

Paul Seebeck

Two churchwide initiatives would be launched under recommendations adopted Monday by the Committee on Congregational Vitality of the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

In two unanimous votes, the committee recommended the Assembly approve “Living Missionally” and “Educate a Child, Transform the World," two initiatives recommended by the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

Assembly committee recommends Valentine for third term as PMA executive director

Tue, 06/17/2014 - 10:37

June 17, 2014

General Assembly News

Emily Enders Odom

Communications Associate

Exuberant applause and a standing ovation punctuated the 221st General Assembly (2014)'s Committee on Mission Coordination’s evening business session on June 16 as the committee recommended that Linda Bryant Valentine be confirmed to a third four-year term as executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA).

Valentine’s election is subject to confirmation by the full Assembly. No previous executive director has served more than two terms.

Committee of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations approves “interreligious stance”

Tue, 06/17/2014 - 10:25

June 17, 2014

General Assembly News

Bob Sloan

After lengthy discussion, the Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relationships on Monday approved with amendment a proposed policy on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s "interreligious stance" to be sent to the 221st General Assembly (2014).

Authors called it a "future-oriented" document that would "empower Presbyterians to draw on the open-mindedness of our Reformed faith.”

Committee recommends GA urge pulling investments from for-profit prison companies

Tue, 06/17/2014 - 10:19

June 17, 2014

General Assembly News

Rachel Shussett

For-profit prison companies would be added to the list of investments the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) urges be banned or divested under a proposal recommended Monday by a committee of the 221st General Assembly (2014).

By a vote of 26-15, the Committee on Mission Coordination endorsed for Assembly approval this recommendation from the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Currently the action would affect two companies: Corrections Corp. of America and the GEO Group, Inc.

Assembly committee endorses elections of Board of Pensions, Foundation leaders

Mon, 06/16/2014 - 20:53

June 16, 2014

General Assembly News

Eva Stimson

Election of leaders of two of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s six agencies was endorsed Monday and sent to the 221st General Assembly (2014) for confirmation.

Frank Spencer's election as new president for the PC(USA) Board of Pensions and the re-election of Tom Taylor to a second four-year term as president of the Presbyterian Foundation were endorsed by the Assembly committee reviewing business related to the BOP, Foundation, Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program and Presbyterian Publishing Corporation.

Peacemaking committee approves continued discernment despite calls for more definitive action

Mon, 06/16/2014 - 20:47

June 16, 2014

General Assembly News

Patrick D. Heery

Peace activists challenged two proposals under consideration Monday by the 221st General Assembly (2014)'s Committee on Peacemaking and International Issues, not because the proposals did not advance peace, but because they did not go far enough.

Both proposals come from the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy. The first asks the Assembly to initiate a second stage of peace discernment, inviting presbyteries to consider five “affirmations” related to the church’s commitment to peacemaking and nonviolence in the world. The second proposal asks the church to engage in a public conversation about the moral use of drones in national security, urge the United States Congress to pass legislation governing their use and condemn targeted killing without due process and oversight.

Committee endorses creation of immigration defense group within PC(USA)

Mon, 06/16/2014 - 19:42

June 16, 2014

Immigration and Environmental Issues Committee signage —Danny Bolin

General Assembly News

Pat Cole

A new immigrant advocacy group within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) would be recognized if the 221st General Assembly (2014) adopts a recommendation from the Committee on Immigration and Environmental Issues.

The recommendation, approved Monday by a vote of 49-8, recognizes a new grassroots group, the Presbyterian Immigrant Defense Initiative, and directs the Office of the General Assembly to facilitate the group’s efforts. That responsibility would fall to a vacant position the office is seeking to fill.

Committee recommends teaching elders 'assume moral responsibility' of per capita

Mon, 06/16/2014 - 19:36

June 16, 2014

General Assembly News

Erin Cox-Holmes

Teaching elders in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) would be asked to "assume the moral responsibility" of paying per capita if a recommendation of the Committee on General Assembly Procedures is adopted by the 221st General Assembly (2104).

The committee narrowly approved, by a 32-25 vote, the overture from the Presbytery of Albany.

Committee OKs recommendation permitting a presbytery to have fewer than 10 congregations

Mon, 06/16/2014 - 19:30

June 16, 2014

General Assembly News

Mike Ferguson

How small is too small?

The Church Polity and Ordered Ministry Committee of the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) decided Monday that some presbyteries may drop down below the 10-church minimum for sessions and pastors, so long as they have synod and General Assembly permission.

Committee votes to recommend dissolution of nongeographic Korean-American presbytery

Mon, 06/16/2014 - 19:26

June 16, 2014

General Assembly News

Mike Ferguson

Despite pleas to give the Presbytery of Hanmi more time to solve its many issues, the Mid Councils Issues Committee of the 221st General Assembly (2014) voted overwhelmingly Monday to recommend that the Korean-American nongeographic presbytery be dissolved.

The committee voted 63-4 to approve the request from the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii. While an administrative commission has been working with the presbytery for about 15 years, the overture cited a number of problems remaining within the presbytery.

Draft of new Directory for Worship recommended for Assembly approval

Mon, 06/16/2014 - 19:20

June 16, 2014

General Assembly News

Bob Sloan

A revised Directory for Worship of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) took another step toward adoption Monday as the 221st General Assembly (2014)'s Committee on Theological Issues and Institutions voted unanimously to recommend adoption of the revised document prepared by the denomination's Office of Theology and Worship.

The process began in 2004 when the 216th General Assembly directed that the directory, contained in the Book of Order, be evaluated; then two years later, the Assembly directed it be rewritten and updated.

Differing stances on civil union and marriage quickly appear in public hearing

Mon, 06/16/2014 - 17:24

June 16, 2014

General Assembly News

Jerry L. Van Marter

It only took a couple of minutes before diametrically opposed positions were laid out Monday before the Committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues of the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

“The Book of Genesis establishes a majority pattern of marriage between a man and a woman,” but there are other patterns in the Bible as well, “and the witness of the entire Bible” is to a more expansive pattern of loving relationships, said theologian and Teaching Elder Mark Achtemeier of the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, who has recently written a book supporting same-gender marriage.

UKirk ministries reclaiming Presbyterian heritage of integrating faith and service

Mon, 06/16/2014 - 17:20

June 16, 2014

General Assembly News

Paul Seebeck

Just two years after it was launched, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s campus ministry initiative UKirk is helping reclaim the heritage of faith and service at colleges across the country, according to Wayne Meiser, a top administrator at one of the denomination's seminaries.

Since being introduced at the 220th General Assembly (2012), UKirk, or University Church, has developed 66 ministry sites on college campuses around the country and 120 collegiate ministries connected to the UKirk network.

'Post-Christendom' isn't such a bad thing, UCC leader tells GA commissioners

Mon, 06/16/2014 - 17:05

June 16, 2014

General Assembly News

Rachel Shussett

For the second straight day, a group of commissioners to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s 221st General Assembly (2014) heard that post-Christendom life in the United States can be pretty exciting.

“Christendom is over," Lillian Daniel, senior minister of First Congregational Church of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, said Monday at the General Assembly Breakfast. "The denominational market-share no longer exists. And in some ways, that is a beautiful thing.”

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