Families Report to be Focus of Public Hearing

Sep 05, 2003 11:46 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE - An open hearing on the "changing families" report that prompted spirited debate during the recent 215th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has been scheduled for 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 24.

The public meeting will take place during the Sept. 23-24 meeting of a special panel of the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

The controversial paper, Living Faithfully with Families in Transition, will be the focus of ACSWP's Changing Families Panel, which produced it.

Noting that the families paper "drew a lot of attention" during the Assembly in Denver, ACSWP Coordinator Peter Sulyok said the committee "wants to invite concerned people to share their thoughts on ministering faithfully with families in church and society. ... We want to hear from as many people as possible."

ACSWP's 45-page report was referred to the Assembly's National Issues Committee, which approved a two-page substitute drafted by committee members with the assistance of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a Presbyterian "think tank." Some committee members then drafted a minority report.

The Assembly voted to send the original report and the proposed substitute back to ACSWP with instructions that it "strengthen" the original in consultation with the General Assembly Council's Office of Theology and Worship and report to next year's 216th Assembly in Richmond, VA.

The Changing Families Panel will discuss a draft of a theological statement on family - which it requested from the Office of Theology and Worship in July - during the first session of this month's meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 23.

After Wednesday's open hearing, the Changing Families Panel will discuss the draft theological statement Thursday morning before adjourning at noon.

The open hearing is expected to last from 8:45 a.m. until 10. People interested in speaking to the ACSWP group should sign up ahead of time. They will be permitted to speak for two to five minutes each, depending on their number.

"People who are unable to travel to Louisville and yet wish to communicate with the Changing Families Panel may send their feedback and concerns to the ACSWP offices," Sulyok said. He noted that email is a convenient way of communicating with the committee, but "the traditional mail response is also welcomed."

Write to Peter Sulyok ([email protected]), coordinator, Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, Presbyterian Church USA, 100 Witherspoon Street, Room 3607, Louisville, KY 40202-1396; or reach the ACSWP office by phone at (800) 728-7228, ext. 5814, or by fax at (502) 569-8041.