LOUISVILLE — Following the tradition of the Presbyterian Church USA, the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, as the Stated Clerk to the denomination, shared his predictions about the “top ten” issues that will take the center stage during the Annual General Assembly Convention. Kirkpatrick forecasted, “mission plan, family paper and sexuality” as the main issues that would dominate the 216th Assembly, which convenes on June 26 in Richmond Virginia.
The following are the “top ten list” as generated and released by Rev. Kirkpatrick:
1. General Assembly Council’s Mission Work Plan — The GAC will bring to the Assembly a major proposal to prioritize its mission programs into four areas: evangelism, justice, leadership and spiritual formation.
2. Final Report on Middle Governing Body Relations — At the conclusion of 115 consultations over three years with synods and presbyteries, the GAC and the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly will be bringing a joint report on how to strengthen partnership between our governing bodies.
3. Reviews — Review committees have completed their studies of the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program and National Council of Churches and will bring to the Assembly positive reports on those two bodies.
4. Transforming Families paper — The 215th General Assembly (2003) referred the paper now entitled “Transforming Families” back to the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) with a concern that there be stronger affirmations of the theological values of traditional patterns of family life. The revised report will be a major item before the 216th General Assembly.
5. Overtures on G-6.0106b — As in prior years, overtures to remove G-6.0106b from the Book of Order will be before the 216th General Assembly. This Assembly also will deal with additional overtures to remove all authoritative interpretations concerning homosexuality and ordination issued prior to the adoption of G-6.0106b in 1996.
6. Elections — As always, much attention will be given to the election of a moderator. In addition, this is the year for the election of a Stated Clerk and for the confirmation of the presidents of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Foundation and the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program.
7. Evangelism and Jewish-Christian Relations — Growing out of the new “messianic” congregation in Philadelphia Presbytery, Avodat Yisrael, a number of overtures are currently before presbyteries calling for a study and reevaluation of policies related to Jewish-Christian relations and evangelism.
8. Constitutional Amendments on Sexual Misconduct — Growing out of the work of the Independent Committee of Inquiry (into previous sexual abuse of missionary children in the Congo), the General Assembly Council will be bringing to the Assembly proposed constitutional amendments to prevent sexual misconduct by church workers and to protect children.
9. Overtures Relating to Abortion — Overtures have been received to modify the actions taken by the last two General Assemblies related to late-term abortions.
10. Issues Related to a Post-9/11 World — Both ACSWP and the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical Relations will be bringing proposals to the Assembly related to advocacy for justice in relation to peacemaking, immigration, response to terrorism, and Iraq.