Monday, June 16, 2014

Presbyterians Get the Right Advice

This week I am blogging from the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly

The Commissioners to the General Assembly get advice before each vote from an array of Advisory Delegates.  The bulk of them are Young Adult Advisory Delegates; in addition, there are smaller groups of theological students, and ecumenical visitors from other denominations.

If it were up to me, I would abolish all of these official advisors.  For my money, only the Executive (or General) Presbyters of each presbytery, and maybe the Stated Clerks of each presbytery, should get an advisory vote. They are the best informed group in the whole denomination.

To my surprise, a motion came from the floor at the plenary yesterday to ask for advisory votes from the presbytery executives.  This rule would apply only to this Assembly, and would be in addition to the other established advisory votes. 

The commissioners (like me) voted by raising red cards.  I thought the division was pretty close.  The Moderator, eyeballing the array (and from a much better position to see the whole than I had), declared that the motion passed.  I think this is an excellent outcome.

And then twenty minutes later, another commissioner asked if this vote was even legal (it was), and then asked for division.  Since the electronic voting system is still wonky, and since these advisory votes will not matter until the next plenary on Wednesday night, the Moderator put off the counted vote until then.

Still, an unexpected step forward, from my way of thinking.


Jim Moore said...

Thank you for these updates.

Reformed Catholic said...

As the commissioner who raised the question about the legality of the vote, it really didn't happen 10 minutes later, but they had already gone into their next report on the docket by the time my point of order was acknowledged, so I had to wait.

My issue was that this motion was never placed on the docket for commissioners to read, there was no notice of any vote to be taken, and many commissioners were confused about what was being voted on, at least there was some questions from those around me.

Finally, if we had to have advice, I'd get it from the Presbytery stated clerks, the reasons:

1) Stated Clerk is a constitutional position, while EP/GP is not

2) Some presbyteries do not have a GP/EP.

Gruntled said...

Stated Clerks are good, too. The motion called for the presbytery stated clerk to give advice in the absence of the GP.

Gruntled said...

Dang, we took it back, by a vote of 46% to 54%. Not sure why.