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The Historical Development of the Book of Church Order

Delegated Assemblies: A History of the Debate in the PCA

Almost from the beginning, the concept of a delegated or representative assembly has been discussed and debated numerous times in the still brief history of the Presbyterian Church in America. The PCA was organized on 4 December 1973 [initially as the National Presbyterian Church and renamed a year later]; the denomination began with 260 churches and 41,000 members and by 1975 had 393 churches and 60,000 members. Perhaps it was that rapid growth which in part prompted several overtures before the Third General Assembly (1975) calling for consideration of a delegated assembly. Countering those overtures, other voices were raised in opposition to the idea and in support of the existing "grassroots" assembly. The matter has continued to resurface periodically and as recently as 2006 three more overtures were presented in favor of a delegated assembly.

Overview of the Delegated Assembly Debate in the PCA, 1975-2006

Overtures in favor of a Delegated Assembly:
Overture 2 from Central Georgia Presbytery (1975)
Overture 3 from Calvary Presbytery (1975)
Overture 9 from New River Presbytery (1975)
Overture 22 from Western Carolina Presbytery (1984)
Overture 27 from Delmarva Presbytery (1984)
Overture 48 from Central Georgia Presbytery (1984)
Overture 14 from Western Carolina Presbytery (1986)
Overture 27 from Covenant Presbytery (1987)
Overture 24 from Western Carolina Presbytery (2006)

Overtures against a Delegated Assembly:
Personnel Resolution 3 from RE Ken Keyes (1975) — [M3GA, p. 28]
Overture 27 from Tennessee Valley Presbytery (1981) — [M9GA, 9-10, B, p. 37]
Overture 34 from Oklahoma Presbytery (1983) — [M11GA, 11-9, B, p. 38]

Actions taken by Assemblies in regard to :
1976 - Approved no change in structure of future Assemblies until PCA reaches 500 churches.
1980-81 - Subcommittee erected for study of delegated general assemblies; report expressed concern for parity.
1981 - Report of the Sub-committee on Study of Delegated General Assemblies, with related correspondence [1.0 Mb file size]
1982 - Study continued by AC; Report recommended no change from existing grassroots system
1983 - AC recommended change to representative assemblies--defeated by vote of 329 to 412
1985 - Straw votes at GA indicated support for change; Ad Interim Committee recommended change to representative assembly; Committee on Judicial Business rejected proposed change as too complex
1986 - Ad Interim Committee report proposed triennial assembly; urged Presbyteries to assist with cost of sending delegates

Related issues: Maintain Ruling Elder/Teaching Elder Parity
Imbalance of ruling elder representation at GA, sometimes as low as 1 RE for every 2.5 TEs. [2010 may have been closer to 1:3].
1982 - Overture 9, Siouxlands Pby addressed parity
1984 - Overture 8 from Covenant Presbytery
and Overture 20 from Evangel Presbytery [argued that a lack of parity produces discouragement, lack of participation and increased disinterest in financial support of GA, produces further unrest and divisiveness]
Overture 51 from Westminster Presbytery

Related Issues: Contain Cost by Using Smaller Facilities
Overture 47 from Southeast Alabama Presbytery (1986)
Overture 52 from Ascension Presbytery (1986)
Overture 6 from Heartland Presbytery (2001)
Overture 4 from Western Carolina Presbytery (2006)

Related Issues: Increase RE Involvement by Containing Length of Meeting
Overture 8 from Covenant Presbytery (1984) - limit GA to 3 days

Arguments presented in favor of a delegated assembly:
1. SIZE:
Increasing size obscures character as a deliberative body (CGAP 1975) Current size doesn't allow discussion of issues before GA (WCP 2006)
Work of a deliberative body is more efficient and productive when of a manageable size (WCP 1984)
Limited size will reduce cost (WCP 1984)
It is deemed necessary for the effective ministry of our denomination that the highest court be smaller (DP 1984)
Size is impractical (WCP 1986)
2. PARITY:
A fundamental principle of the PCA is representative government with equal representation between TE and RE (CGP 1984)
Current system fosters poor involvement by ruling elders; recent BCO amendments allowing more REs hasn't made any difference (WCP 2006)
3. EXPENSE:
Unwarranted expense (WCP 1986)
Current order of expenditure is not the best stewardship nor public testimony; GA should not be a partial vacation time (WCP 1986)
4. PRESBYTERY DELEGATES INSTEAD OF CHURCH-BASED DELEGATES:
Presbytery would elect reps and will tend to send those best qualified (WCP 1984)
5. LOGIC:
Logical way to streamline GA is to have a delegated assembly (DP 1984)

Arguments against a delegated assembly & for "grassroots" assemblies:
1. GRASSROOTS VALUES:
A delegated assembly approach would lend to the establishment of hierarchy (NRP 1975)
Benefits of retaining grass roots interest and participation far outweights any possible disadvantages (NRP 1975)
Every member voice and vote participation remains feasible (Keyes 1975)
Larger denominations met in annual convention and manage, despite their size
Every member realization of challenges and needs (Keyes 1975)
2. SAFETY IN NUMBERS:
Safety in numbers: decisions made by representatives from congregations are less likely to err than decisions made by a small group (NRP 1975)
3. VISIBILITY AND WITNESS:
A large assembly will make a stronger impact on the area where each assembly is held, strengthening our witness for Christ (Keyes 1975)
4. BUILDS COMMUNITY & CONNECTIONALISM:
Historical evidence indicates that denominations with a delegated assembly lose a vital representative link with the local church, which then engenders estrangement and suspicion
Local church representation is a great strength in the present system, building a common bond of purpose and love, insuring greater congregational support of assembly-wide programs and policies
Fellowship of community at the General Assembly level: personal acquaintance & exchange of ideas provides dynamic for growth & outreach (Keyes 1975)
GA is more than just an ecclesiastical business meeting, but also a time for corporate worship, fellowship, networking, exhibits, seminars, interest group meetings, etc. (AC 2006)

Documentary History of the Debate over Delegated Assemblies, 1975-2006

1975
Overture 2, from Central Georgia Presbytery
[M3GA, 3-11, p. 27]
Whereas, it was reported to the Second General Assembly that 360 Presbyterian churches having 70-75,000 members considered themselves a part of the Presbyterian Church in America, and
Whereas, it is conservatively estimated that another 100 churches will have joined the Presbyterian Church in America by the time of the Third General Assembly, and
Whereas, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America is a church court, whose size should not obscure its character as a deliberative body,
Now therefore, Central Georgia Presbytery overtures the Third General Assembly to direct the Committee on Administration to study the matter of representation to the General Assembly, and bring recommendations to the Fourth General Assembly for changes in The Book of Church Order to reduce the number of Commissioners.
Walter V. Worsham, Stated Clerk

Overture 3, from Calvary Presbytery [M3GA, 3-11, p. 27]
Calvary Presbytery respectfully overtures the Third General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America meeting at Jackson, Mississippi, September 8, 1975, to make all future assemblies delegated assemblies on the following basis:
1. That one-third of the churches on the roll of Presbytery shall be eligible to send Ruling Elder representative(s) and their minister(s) on a rotation basis. Where two or more churches are served by the same minister, theses shall be grouped in the same one-third;
2. That the division of churches shall be alphabetically so far as it is consistent with the second item in Number 1;
3. That local churches shall pay expenses for their representatives. Where local churches are not financially able, aid shall be supplied by the Presbytery Committee on the Mission to the U.S.
4. That Presbytery take care that each church and each minister on Presbytery's roll have the privilege of attending the General Assembly every three years.

Overture 9, from New River Presbytery [M3GA, 3-11, pp. 27-28]
New River Presbytery (by unanimous vote) respectfully overtures the Third General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America as follows:
1. That whereas the Presbyterian Church in America has come into being by a groundswell of movement from the "grass roots" and has continued through these past two years as a "grass roots" movement arising from the hearts and prayers of many individual Christians rather than from the dictates of a hierarchy above;
2. And whereas "there is safety in numbers" and decisions made by representatives from congregations are less likely to err than decisions made by a small group;
3. And whereas individual congregations are more likely to join heartily in participation, support and interest in the causes of the whole Church if such congregations are individually represented at the General Assembly and have a voice in the making of decisions;
4. And whereas (to put into the words of a similar overture already presented to the General Assembly) "the benefits of retaining such a "grass roots" interest and participation . . . far outweigh any possible disadvantages . . .
Now therefore be it resolved that the presbytery . . . is of the opinion that it is in the best interests of the Church to continue the "grass roots" General Assembly."
New River Presbytery, therefore (by unanimous vote) respectfully requests that the Third General Assembly continue our Church as a "grass roots" movement by allowing each church or congregation to send commissioners to the General Assembly.
Respectfully submitted,
S.C. Dunbar, Moderator
James N. Gay, Stated Clerk
Overtures 2, 3, 9 answered by reference, paragraph 3-65.

Resolution 3. Late Overture presented as a personal resolution by Ruling Elder Kenneth S. Keyes [M3GA, 3-11, pp. 28-29.]
Whereas, it has come to our attention that at least one Presbytery in the Presbyterian Church in America has overtured the next General Assembly to amend the Book of Church Order to provide for a delegated General Assembly; and
Whereas, the Presbyterian Church in America came into being as a result of a convocation of Sessions, reflecting a "grass roots" interest and concern; and
Whereas, the benefits of retaining such a "grass roots" interest and participation in our opinion, far outweigh any possible disadvantage some of these benefits being:
1. Making it possible for representatives of every local church to see and hear first hand the state of the Church and to have a voice and vote in any decisions made.
2. Enabling representatives of every local church to learn first hand of the challenges and needs of the Presbyterian Church in America.
3. Enabling representatives from every local church to have fellowship and to exchange ideas with representatives of other local churches, to become personally acquainted with some of the members of the Church's committees and the staff personnel thus providing a dynamic for growth and outreach which could not be achieved in any other way.
4. A large assembly of dedicated Churchmen will make a stronger impact on the area in which the General Assembly is held resulting in a strengthening of our witness for Christ.
Now therefore be it resolved, that the Presbytery of Southern Florida is of the opinion that it is in the best interests of the Church to continue the "grass roots" General Assembly as presently provided in the Book of Church Order.
We realize that in years to come it is conceivable that the number of churches in our fellowship may grow to the point where some form of a delegated Assembly may need to be considered but in our opinion we are not at that point now.
Adopted at the January 14, 1975 meeting of the Presbytery.
Donald R. Esty, Stated Clerk
Presbytery of Southern Florida
Note: This Overture was not received by the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly until September 1, 1975. According to the "Rules for Assembly Operation" it cannot be considered as an overture from a Presbytery by the 1975 Assembly. (5-7)
It was introduced as a personal resolution by Ruling Elder Ken Keyes, a member of the court.
Answered by reference, paragraph 3-65.

3-65 Report of Committee on Administration, Continued (3-63) [M3GA, 3-65, Item 19, p. 79]
19. That Overtures #2, #3, #9 (and a late Overture from Presbytery of South Florida) all be answered as follows:
That representation to the 1976 General Assembly be on the basis as in past and that this procedure be reviewed by the permanent Committee on Administration during the year and that it present a procedure for representation at future assemblies for consideration by the 1976 Assembly.
[All items in the report (except for Item 5) were adopted. See M3GA, 3-63, p. 76.]

1976
The Overtures presented to the Third General Assembly (1975) were carried over to the Fourth General Assembly (1976) and so were reprinted on pages 34-35 of the Minutes of the latter Assembly [M4GA, 4-10, pp. 34-35.]

4-74 Report of the Committee on Administration [M4GA, Item III, B., p. 80.]
B. Representation at Assemblies:
The Committee recommends that there be no change of the structure of future Assemblies until the denomination's membership of churches exceeds 500.
Adopted.


4-76 Report of the Committee on Administration
[M4GA, 4-76, I., Items 1, 2, 3, and 4, p. 82]
[Overtures 2, 3, 9 and Resolution 3 were answered by reference to actions taken in 4-74, item III, B.]

1979
The following overture, while not specifically addressing the delegated assembly concept, sought to address the related matter of ruling elder participation in the General Assembly:
Overture 2, from the Presbytery of Southern Florida [M7GA, 7-9, B., p. 27]
Whereas, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America has made an effort to increase the participation of Ruling Elders in the functions of the Assembly, and
Whereas, some Ruling Elders are discouraged over the imbalance between Ruling and Teaching Elders representatives to the Presbytery and the General Assembly,
Be It Therefore Resolved, that the Seventh General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America ask the Permanent Committee on Judicial Business to study this imbalance and make recommendations to General Assembly as to a solution which would be in line with the Presbyterian Church in America's Doctrine of the Parity of Elders.
Adopted at the Fall Meeting, October 17, 1978.
Earl S. Mizell, Stated Clerk
Referred to the Permanent Committee on Administration, 7-90, Item 31, p. 140.
31. That Overture 2 (p. 27) referred from Judicial Business be referred to the Permanent Committee on Administration.
[answered by the Eighth General Assembly by reference to the Committee on Administration, with report to be made before the Ninth General Assembly, M8GA, 8-103, III, Item 8, p. 122.]

1980
Echoing the above overture from Southern Florida, Louisiana Presbytery brought Overture 25 before the Eighth General Assembly, again seeking to address the ratio of ruling and teaching elders.
Overture 25, from Louisiana Presbytery
Whereas, the Presbyterian Church in America strives for a parity between Elders who rule and Elders who teach, and
Whereas, Ruling Elders often are frustrated by the large numbers of registered Teaching Elders who vote at General Assembly and Committee of Commissioner's Committees, and
Whereas, the maturity and counsel of Elders who rule is vital and yet often over-shadowed by the number of Teaching Elders eligible and present.
Therefore, we propose that a ratio between the registered Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders be established each General Assembly and in each Committee of Commissioner's Committee and the minority Elders vote shall be increased in all General Assembly and Committee of Commissioner's Committees voting activity in order to arrive at a voting equality.
Adopted at Spring Stated Meeting of Louisiana Presbytery, March 15, 1980.
Attest: Baker S. Smith, Stated Clerk, Louisiana Presbytery.
Answered in the negative, 8-103, III, Item 17, p. 123.
17. That Overture 25 be answered in the negative.
Grounds: See Recommendation 8.
Adopted.
8. That the Assembly answer Overture 2, from the Seventh General Assembly, by referring the matter back to the Committee on Administration, to report to the Ninth General Assembly.
Adopted.


1981

Overture 27, from the Tennessee Valley Presbytery
Whereas,
it is likely that the PCA General Assembly will soon consider moving to a delegated Assembly, and it has actually been said that having representatives from local churches rather than presbyteries is a "weakness in the present system"; and
Whereas, there is abundant historical evidence to indicate that denominations that have a delegated assembly thereby lose a vital representative link with the local church and engender estrangement and suspicion; and
Whereas, having the local church represented at the Assembly is a very great strength in the present system, annually cementing the local churches together nationally in the bonds of a common purpose and mutual love, thus insuring greater congregational support of Assembly-wide programs and policies; and
Whereas, there are churches far larger than our own, who hold annual conventions and manage to tend to their business despite their size;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the Presbyterian Church in America retain the "grass roots" character of its General Assembly, preserving the principle that each local church shall have the right to be represented at the Assembly.
Respectfully submitted,
Richard R. Harris, Stated Clerk
Tennessee Valley Presbytery
Dated May 13, 1981, received May 16, 1981.
Answered by the Assembly's action of not adopting a plan for delegated assemblies [M9GA, III, Item 2, p. 155]

9-80 Committee of Commissioners on Administration
II. Major Issues Discussed [M9GA, II, Item 2, p. 154 ]
2. Recommendation #3 on delegated General Assemblies (Report of the Sub-committee on Study of Delegated General Assemblies to the Committee on Administration). The report reflected the thinking of previous General Assemblies that the General Assembly would consider delegated/representative assemblies when the number of churches reached 500 in number. The Committee of Commissioners observed that the Committee on Administration's Report indicated a growing concern for the parity at the General Assembly level. The General Assembly statistical report confirms this problem. Also concern was expressed regarding the costs to individual churches in sending two or more representatives each year.
III. Recommendations [M9GA, 9-80, III, Item 7, p. 155 ]
7. That the issue of a Delegated Assembly be returned to the Committee on Administration for further study, especially giving attention to a plan for achieving greater parity of representation among teaching and ruling elders within the current structure. It is further recommended that the Committee on Administration, in study, solicit formal advice from each Presbytery to consider in its deliberation.
Adopted.

1982
10-33 Report of the Committee of Commissioners on Administration [M10GA, 10-33, III, Item 14, p. 14]
14. That the Committee on Administration be authorized to continue to study the matter of delegated Assemblies.

Meanwhile, Siouxlands Presbytery sought to address parity of representation:
Overture 9, from Siouxlands Presbytery
Whereas, there is in the one office of Elder two orders of Teaching and Ruling Elder (1 Timothy 5:17), and the government and spiritual oversight of the Church is to be equally shared by both orders; and
Whereas, in the highest court of the Church there currently exists an imbalance in representation of the two orders of the office of Elder; and,
Whereas, it is in the best interest of the Church in seeking to more perfectly glorify God and do His will, and in seeking to promote the spiritual well-being and health of itself;
Therefore, the Presbytery of the Siouxlands overtures the Tenth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America to amend the Book of Church Order §14-2 as follows:
The General Assembly, which is a permanent court, shall meet at least annually upon its own adjournment, and shall consist of Elders elected by the Presbyteries in the same number (or plus one if that number not be even) as there are particular churches on the rolls of the respective Presbyteries as of January 1st of that year, with one half of the Elders being those of the order of Teaching Elder, who are in good standing in their Presbyteries, and one half being those of the order of Ruling Elder.
Jack Mayfield, Stated Clerk.
Answered by Reference to Committee on Administration, §10-33, III, Item 21, p. 70.

10-33 Report of the Committee of Commissioners on Administration [M10GA, 10-33, III, Item 14, p. 69 and Item 21, p. 70. ]
III. Recommendations
14. That the Committee on Administration be authorized to continue to study the matter of delegated Assemblies. Adopted.
21.That Overture #9 (§10-12, p. 42) from Siouxlands Presbytery be answered by Recommendation #14. Adopted.

Appendix A - Report of the Committee on Administration
IV. DELEGATED ASSEMBLIES
[M10GA, Appendix A, p. 132.]
At the direction of the Ninth General Assembly the Committee on Administration continued to study the matter of the possibility of delegated Assemblies. The Stated Clerk's Office was asked by the Committee on Administration to conduct a survey of all Sessions as to the cost of sending commissioners to the past two General Assemblies, and also to ask the Sessions to indicate their feelings about delegated Assemblies. The Presbyteries were also asked to speak to this matter as requested by the Ninth General Assembly.
Survey requests were sent out to approximately 500 churches, 236 responses were received. These 236 churches reported that they had spent $83,015.35 in 1980, and #123,101.43 in 1981 to send commissioners to the Assembly. [Editor's note.: What was the per capita cost?] Fifteen reported that because of the costs they were not sending commissioners to the Assembly, while a larger number indicated partial or non-participation, without stating the reason. Several suggested that the location of the Assembly meetings was a factor in non-participation or only partial participation in the Assembly.
The survey included a request for thoughts from the Sessions on "delegated" Assemblies. The results were as follows:

Favoring delegated Assemblies
Opposed to delegated Assemblies
No response
Other suggestions
42
64
123
22

From this, it may be seen that the largest single group had no opinion. Of those expressing an opinion, if the "other suggestions:, which were generally proposing some sort of solution other than our present system, are counted with those favoring a delegated Assembly, the vote is essentially equal. If the no opinion group be considered as preferring the continuation of the present procedure, then the vote is seen as about 2 to 1 against a change at this point.
Presbyteries were also asked to express themselves on this matter. Only four have made formal reply. All were opposed to "delegated" Assemblies.
Judging from this survey, and from the vote of the Assembly last year, it appears that the Church is not ready to make a change from the present "grass roots" representation at the General Assembly. Also, with the "joining and receiving" as a possibility, it does not appear to be the best time to make a change in our present system. It could be that if "joining and receiving" takes place, there will be reason for reconsidering the matter in the future. For the present, the Committee feels it best not to propose any changes.

X. RECOMMENDATIONS [M10GA, Appendix A, X., Items 2 and 17, pp. 134-135.]
2. That study questions of delegated Assemblies be discontinued for the present.
17. That the Committee on Administration be authorized to continue to study the matter of delegated Assemblies, but that no change be made at present in the makeup of the General Assembly.
[Editor's note: At the moment I have no explanation for the apparent contradiction between the above two recommendations.]

1983
Overture 34, from Oklahoma Presbytery [M11GA, 11-9, B., p. 38]
Whereas, the Oklahoma Presbytery meeting in Lawton, Oklahoma, March 11-12, 1983, respectfully responds to the Committee on Administration proposal concerning representative assemblies. This presbytery wishes to record its opposition to this proposal for the following reasons:
1. That since many former Reformed Presbyterians are still not familiar with the operation of General Assembly, nor acquainted with its commissioners that this proposal is perhaps for the future but not now.
2. That the making of this proposal seems to be in conflict with the recommendations and reports of the Tenth General Assembly to wit:
p. 132 -- 'It appears that the Church is not ready to make a change from the present 'grass roots' representation', and
p. 134 -- 'That study questions of delegated assemblies be discontinued for the present.'
Attest: Paul E. DeLong, Stated Clerk.
Answered by action 11-30, III, Items 10 and 21, pp. 80-81.


11-30 Committee of Commissioners on Administration [M11GA, 11-30, III, Items 10 & 21, pp. 80-81.]
III. Recommendations
10. That the General Assembly approve the change to representative assemblies.
Defeated by a vote of 329 to 412.
21. That Overture 34 from the Presbytery of Oklahoma be answered by reference to recommendation 10. Adopted.


1984
Overture 8 from Covenant Presbytery [M12GA, 12-10, B., pp. 38-39]
Whereas, the Presbyterian Church in America strives to achieve parity between teaching elders and ruling elders, and
Whereas, the General Assembly currently meets for five days, and the Committees of Commissioners meet for eight days, and
Whereas,
teaching elders generally, outnumber ruling elders by approximately two to one ration, and
Whereas, the currently length of General Assembly discourages participation by ruling elders from both the Assembly and the Committees of Commissioners:
Therefore, to encourage greater participation by ruling elders in future Assemblies, the Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Indianola, Mississippi overtures the Twelfth General Assembly to limit the length of future General Assembly assemblies to three days.
Attest: Paul O. Honomichi, Stated Clerk.
Answered in the negative, 12-90, III, 31, p. 189.

Overture 20, from Evangel Presbytery [M12GA, 12-10, p. 51]
Whereas, the number of Teaching Elders in the denomination attached to active churches is only sixty-two percent of the total number of Teaching Elders in the denomination; and
Whereas, the principle of parity of the Eldership embraced at the birth of the denomination has, for all intents and purposes, been abandoned, and the proportion of Teaching Elders to Ruling Elders attending the General Assembly has become extremely disproportionate; and,
Whereas, this present trend within the General Assembly is producing discouragement, lack of participation and increased disinterest in the financial support of the work of the General Assembly which, if continued, will produced additional unrest and divisiveness;
Therefore, Evangel Presbytery overtures the Twelfth General Assembly to amend Section 14-2 of the BCO by substituting for the whole the following:
"14-2. The General Assembly, which is a permanent court, shall meet at least annually upon its own adjournment, and shall consist of all Teaching Elders in good standing with their Presbyteries, as hereinafter provided, and Ruling Elders in the ratio of one from each congregation for each 500 members, or fraction thereof, but not to exceed five Ruling Elder commissioners from any one congregation. Teaching Elders attached to a congregation must be accompanied by at least one Ruling Elder commissioner from such congregation in order to qualify as a commissioner to General Assembly. Each Presbytery of the General Assembly shall be permitted to send Teaching Elders who are not attached to a congregation as commissioners to the General Assembly, provided, however, such additional Teaching Elder commissioners shall not exceed twenty-five per cent of the total number of such unattached Teaching Elders in good standing with such Presbytery."
Attest: Hubert C. Stewart, Stated Clerk.
Referred to the Ad Interim Committee, 12-53, II, 37, p. 134.

Overture 22, from Western Carolinas Presbytery
[M12GA, 12-10, B., p. 39]
Whereas, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America as presently constituted bears the potential of a gathering of some 2,500 commissioners; and
Whereas, the work of a deliberative body is more efficient and productive when it is of manageable size; and
Whereas, a limited number of commissioners elected by each Presbytery will reduce the cost of otherwise large and expensive gatherings; and
Whereas, we are called and committed to responsible stewardship in our oversight of God's people; and
Whereas, a limited number of commissioners elected by a Presbytery shall bring forth the selection of those best qualified to serve;
Now Therefore, be it resolved, that the Presbytery of Western Carolinas overture the General Assembly to redraft Chapter 14-2 of the Book of Church Order to provide for a delegated General Assembly.
Attest: W. Donald Munson, Jr., Stated Clerk.
Referred to Ad-Interim Committee, 12-90, III, 32, p. 189.

Overture 27, from Delmarva Presbytery [M12GA, 12-10, pp. 51-52]
Whereas, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America is now potentially composed of voting delegates from each and every particular church, as well as teaching elders serving in other fields, and
Whereas, teaching elders outnumbered ruling elders at the 1983 meeting of the General Assembly, and
Whereas, it is deemed necessary for the effective ministry of our denomination that the highest court be smaller, and
Whereas, it is considered that the logical way to accomplish a streamlined assembly is through delegating voting members and insuring equal representation by both teaching and ruling elders,
Therefore, the Delmarva Presbytery overtures the 12th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America to approve a change to representative General Assemblies, and
Further, that the following amendments to the Book of Church Order be adopted, considering the second contingent upon the acceptance of the first.
(1) That the Book of Church Order 14-2 be amended by substituting for the whole:
"14-2. The General Assembly, which is a permanent court, shall meet at least annually upon its own adjournment. The total number of commissioners shall be 600. There shall be an equal number of teaching and ruling elder commissioners. Each Presbytery shall be entitled to two teaching elder commissioners and two ruling elder commissioners. The remaining commissioners shall be allotted to the Presbyteries based on the proportion of the total number of communicant members of the denomination. Each Presbytery's allotment shall be equally divided between teaching and ruling elders. The Assembly's Committee on Administration shall make the allotment to each Presbytery within 60 days after each regular annual meeting of General Assembly, based on the last annual statistical report of communicant membership. Each Presbytery shall develop its own method of selecting its allotted commissioners, providing an equal number of teaching and ruling elders are chosen. Presbyteries shall select alternates for each of the four commissioners to which they may be entitled. Each Presbytery shall select its commissioners and notify the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly at least 120 days prior to the beginning of the next stated meeting of the General Assembly. All teaching and ruling elders in the denomination shall be eligible to attend the General Assembly as observers. Such observers may attend all meetings of the Committees of Commissioners and all sessions of the General Assembly, except for those closed by rules of the Assembly or by parliamentary order."
(2) That the Book of Church Order 10-6, be amended by substituting the following for the whole:
"10-6. The General Assembly shall pay all or a portion of the expenses of its commissioners according to the rules set annually by its Committee on Administration. The expenses of teaching and ruling elders occasioned by their attendance at Presbytery shall be defrayed by the bodies they respectively represent. Local churches are encouraged to pay the expenses of their observers to General Assembly in order that they may receive instruction, information, and inspiration regarding the work of the denomination."
Attest: Thomas G. Webb, Stated Clerk.
Referred to the Ad Interim Committee, 12-90, III, 32, p. 189.

Overture 48, from the Central Georgia Presbytery [M12GA, 12-10, p. 59]
Whereas,
the number of Elders attending the General Assembly has increased substantially and to such an extent and manner that the General Assembly is becoming too large for meaningful and orderly discussion; and
Whereas, the vast majority of the Elders attending General Assembly and discussing and voting on issues are Teaching Elders, a large proportion of whom are not attached to particular churches in the Presbyterian Church in America; and
Whereas, a fundamental principle of the Presbyterian Church in America is representative government with equal representation on the higher courts between Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders,
Therefore, Central Georgia Presbytery overtures the Twelfth General Assembly to amend Section 14-2 of BCO as follows:
"14.2. The General Assembly, which is a permanent court shall meet at least annually upon its own adjournment. The total number of commissioners shall be _____. There shall be an equal number of Teaching and Ruling Elder commissioners. Each Presbytery shall be entitled to _____ Teaching Elder commissioners and _____ Ruling Elder commissioners. The remaining commissioners shall be allotted to the Presbyteries based on the proportion of the total number of communicant members of the denomination. Each Presbytery's allotment shall be equally divided between Teaching and Ruling Elders. The Assembly's Committee on Administration shall make the allotment to each Presbytery within 60 days after each regular annual meeting of General Assembly, based on the last annual statistical report of communicant membership. Each Presbytery shall develop its own method of selecting its allotted commissioners, assuring a reasonable plan of rotation among all eligible Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders and providing an equal number of Teaching and Ruling Elders are chosen. Presbyteries shall select alternates for each of the _____ commissioners to which they are basically entitled. Each Presbytery shall select its commissioners and notify the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly at least _____ days prior to the beginning of the next stated meeting of the General Assembly. All Teaching and Ruling Elders in the denomination shall be eligible to attend the General Assembly as observers. Such observers may attend all meetings of the Committees of Commissioners and all sessions of the General Assembly, except for those closed by rules of the Assembly or by parliamentary order."
Attested: Donald D. Comer, Stated Clerk.
Referred to Committee on Administration, 12-53, II, 47, p. 136.


Overture 51, from Westminster Presbytery
[M12GA, 12-10, p. 60]
Westminster Presbytery overtures the General Assembly to proceed toward the amendment of the Book of Church Order, as follows:
1. That BCO 14-2 be amended to read, "The General Assembly, which is a permanent court, shall meet at least annually upon its own adjournment and shall consist of all teaching elders and ruling elders representing their respective Presbyteries. The number of commissioners each Presbytery is entitled to send shall be equal to the total number of particular churches in that Presbytery as of January 1st of that year. In the event that there be an odd number of churches in the Presbytery, one additional may be sent. Of those commissioners entitled to attend from a particular Presbytery, half shall be teaching elders and half shall be ruling elders. (Not all those entitled will necessarily attend.) The method for selecting commissioners shall be left to the discretion of each presbytery."
2. That BCO 10-6 be amended to read, "The expenses of ruling [and] teaching elders in their attendance at General Assembly shall ordinarily be defrayed by the church or institution with which the commissioner is associated."
Adopted at the Spring Stated Meeting of Westminster Presbytery on April 14, 1984.
Attested: Larry E. Ball, Stated Clerk.
Referred to Committee on Administration, 12-53, II, 49, p. 137.

12-90 Committee of Commissioners on Administration [M12GA, 12-90, III, Items 31 and 32, p. 189.]
III. Recommendations
31. That Overture #8 be answered in the negative. Adopted.
32. That the subject matter in Overtures 20, 22, 27, 48, and 51 be referred to the Ad-Interim Study and Evaluation Committee erected by Recommendation 1 of this report. Adopted.

Recommendation #1.
That the Moderator appoint a six man Ad Interim Committee to evaluate and make its recommendations to the Thirteenth General Assembly as to:
a. The functions and coordination of the four Permanent Committees, the Office of the Stated Clerk, and the other General Assembly Committees, with the exception of any Ad Hoc Committee.
b. The structure or organization of the denomination.
c. Judicial Business procedure and structure.
The expense of this Ad Interim Committee shall be paid by the Committee on Administration.

1985
13-57 Committee on Judicial Business and Ad Interim Committee on the General Assembly.
Response to the Report of the Ad Interim Committee on General Assembly Structure.
B. The Proposal for a Representative General Assembly. [M13GA, 13-57, pp. 120-121.]
The Committee on Judicial Business finds no constitutional irregularities with the proposal of the Ad Interim Committee.
Recommendation:
That the Assembly find the proposal in order. Adopted.
RE W. Jack Williams continued the Ad Interim Committee's report. A period of general questioning from the floor was followed by the Assembly's moving into a committee of the whole. Straw votes were taken indicating (1.) overwhelming support for the concept of a representative assembly and (2.) a small majority of support for the plan presented by the Ad Interim Committee. The Assembly then moved out of the committee of the whole. Mr. Chewning returned to the chair, and by common consent the Assembly proceeded to the following votes:
Recommendations:
1. That the advice of the Committee on Judicial Business regarding Constitutional Inquiry (Appendix I, I.C.1, p. 245) from the Ad Interim Committee be ratified; that the proposed amendments touching both judicial process and representative assembly (Appendix P, p. 313) be referred back to the Ad Interim Committee; and that it be noted that the proposal of the Ad Interim Committee's report marks a radical departure from the original tenets of the Presbyterian Church in America.
Adopted.
(Clerk's note: By this action the Assembly adopted A and B above.)

Appendix I, C. Constitutional Inquiries, Item 1 [M13GA, Appendix I, C, #1, p. 245.
#1. Constitutional Inquiry 11.
From the Ad Interim Committee on General Assembly Restructure. The text of the proposed changes to the BCO was referred to this committee in accord with RAO VI 6-2. See Recommendation 40.
Recommendation 40. [M13GA, Appendix I, Supplement, II, Item 40, p. 247]
40. Regarding BCO 14-2
A. That the proposed amendment to BCO 14-2 be referred back to the committee for further study and refinement.
Grounds:
1. The proposed formula using both teaching and ruling elders to determine the number of representatives from presbyteries is too complex to implement in a feasible fashion.
2. No criteria are established by which to determine the exact size of the GA.
3. Provision 2. c. as written would allow churches with as many as three eligible commissioners to be represented at each GA.
[Editor's Note: The above applies to "Appendix P, Exhibit B," below.]

Appendix P -- Report of Ad Interim Committee to Study and Make Recommendations as to Structure and Procedure
CONCLUSION [M13GA, Appendix P, Conclusion, #2, p. 321.]
2. That the General Assembly approve and send to the Presbyteries for action the proposed amendment to Book of Church Order Section 14-2 as set out in Exhibit "B" of this report.

Appendix P, Exhibit "B" [M13GA, pp. 324-325.]
Proposed Amendment to the Book of Church Order to provide for a representative General Assembly, with approximately 800 commissioners.
Replace the present 14-2 with the following:
The General Assembly, which is a permanent court, shall meet at least annually upon its own adjournment. The Assembly's maximum size shall be 800 commissioners. Each year 800 commissioners shall be apportioned among the Presbyteries, although the number of commissioners from each Presbytery eligible to attend a particular General Assembly may be limited by paragraph II-3, below.
I. On the basis of the statistics as reported to the Stated Clerk's Office, for the previous year, the Stated Clerk shall determine the apportionment of the 800 commissioners among the presbyteries, as follows:
a. Determine the number of eligible commissioners from the entire denomination on the following formula: all teaching elders in good standing with their Presbyteries, one ruling elder from every congregation, with allowance of one additional ruling elder from every congregation for each 500 members, or fraction thereof, not to exceed 5 ruling elder commissioners from any one congregation.
b. Determine the percentage that the total possible commissioners from each Presbytery represents of the total possible commissioners from the entire denomination.
c. Multiply this percentage for each presbytery times 800, rounding to the nearest whole, to determine the Presbytery's allotment.
In his annual report to the General Assembly, the Stated Clerk shall report this allotment for each Presbytery for the next General Assembly.
II. Each Presbytery shall select commissioners as follows:
1. The Stated Clerk of each Presbytery shall maintain a roster of teaching elders, in which the position of each shall be determined by:
a. The number of years since he last attended a General Assembly, whether as a delegate of this or another PCA Presbytery.
b. Alphabetical order in each year's class.
c. Each teaching elder shall automatically be elected as a commissioner as his name comes to the top of a roster.
d. The name of any eligible teaching elder who fails to attend such General Assembly shall be moved to the bottom of the roster.
A newly-ordained teaching elder or a teaching elder transferring from another denomination shall be placed at the bottom of the list. In the event of a Joining and Receiving of another ecclesiastical body into the PCA, the teaching elders shall be handled as if in the PCA all along.
2. The Stated Clerk of each Presbytery shall maintain a roster of the churches in which each church's position shall be determined by:
a. The number of years since it was last represented.
b. Alphabetical order of the church's post office and within a post office where there is more than one church, by alphabetical order of the churches' names therein.
c. Any church which is eligible to send a Ruling Elder Commissioner and fails to do so shall be moved to the bottom of the roster; except if a church is entitled to send more than one Ruling elder, but can not send its full quota, because of its Presbytery's allotment limitations, it would be eligible in the succeeding year to complete that quota.
d. A newly organized church in the Presbytery would start at the bottom of the roster.
3. Although by the formula stated above, a Presbytery may be allotted a certain number of Teaching Elder Commissioners, such Presbytery shall be eligible to send to a particular General Assembly only the same number of Teaching Elder Commissioners as Ruling Elder Commissioners who have notified the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery, in writing, their good faith intention to attend at least ninety days prior to the opening of the General Assembly.
4. Ordinarily the churches or sending body shall bear the expenses of both teaching and ruling elders.
5. At its option, any Presbytery may make a provision for alternates following the Rosters of Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders as above set out.

1986
Overture 14, from Western Carolinas Presbytery, [M14GA, 14-4, B., pp. 40-41.]
Whereas, the Ascension Presbytery has in action adopted July 13, 1985, expressed its concern over the cost of attending General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church in America, and
Whereas, the many of the smaller churches of the PCA are financially unable to send either their teaching or ruling elder representatives to the General Assembly,
Whereas, the cost appears to be unwarranted or unaffordable by many who would otherwise have to pay their own personal expense,
Whereas, the cost also for use of hotel convention centers and for transportation, room and board, and registration for assemblies of the size now possible and experienced is judged neither the best stewardship nor public testimony for the Presbyterian Church in America, nor is the apparent increasing practice of using General Assemblies for partial vacation experiences, and
Whereas, there appears already to be growing sentiment that the size of the PCA is making continuation of the present form of undelegated assembly impractical.
We, the Presbytery of Western Carolinas, do hereby overture the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America that in its study of the size of future assemblies it adopt as one guideline that the General Assembly of the PCA will normally be held at one of its member churches or one of the educational or conference institutions of the PCA, the NAPARC Churches, or some approved non-denominational board such as Reformed Theological or Westminster Theological Seminaries, and
That any formula for establishing a maximum potential size provide for no larger an assembled body than that which might be housed in homes of congregations of the community and/or living facilities of the host institution(s).
Adopted November 9, 1985
Attest: W. Donald Munson, Jr., Stated Clerk (1985)
Answered in the negative, 14-74, III, 11, p. 171.
Grounds: Sets impractical limits. Adopted.

Overture 27, from the Session of Grace Presbyterian Church, Madison, Florida [not adopted by Gulf Coast Presbytery], p. 43
The Session of Grace Presbyterian Church (Madison, FL) overtures the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America in its fourteenth meeting to adopt the following:
Whereas,
all churches should send delegates, both their TE and appropriate number of RE's, to the General Assembly; and
Whereas, the majority of our denomination's congregations number two hundred communicants or less; and
Whereas, the traveling of great distances and staying in hotels or motels that cater to conventions are quite expensive; and
Whereas, such expense is prohibitive to the sending of delegates to the General Assembly; and
Whereas, the majority of the PCA's member churches are located in the southeastern part of the United States of America; and
Whereas, the offices of the General Assembly's agencies are located in the southeastern part of the United States of America also; and
Whereas, it is poor stewardship of the Lord's money for the majority of the delegates to the General Assemblies to travel to cities which are great distances from the majority of the membership;
Therefore, be it resolved by the Presbyterian Church in America, at its Fourteenth General Assembly that until the time comes that the denomination's membership is more evenly distributed over the nation, all future General Assemblies will be held in the southeastern part of the United States.
And, therefore, be it resolved by the Fourteenth General Assembly that future assemblies be held on a college or university campus, utilizing the dormitories, the cafeteria, and appropriate facilities, as much as possible.
Attest: Alton M. Phillips, Moderator of the Session
See 14-74, III, 19, p. 171.

Overture 47, from Southeast Alabama Presbytery, p. 43-44
Whereas it is incumbent upon us to be faithful stewards of the money which God entrusts to us; and
Whereas it is becoming increasingly difficult for some smaller churches to bear the burden of sending a commissioner or commissioners to the General Assembly; and
Whereas the 6th General Assembly gave explicit instructions to encourage the Permanent Committee on Administration to seek out college facilities and the support of local churches in hosting those meetings of the General Assembly after 1980; and
Whereas the use of such college facilities proves both practical and economical;
Therefore be it resolved that Southeast Alabama Presbytery overture the 14th General Assembly to exhort the Permanent Committee on Administration to abide by the instructions given by the 6th General Assembly pertaining to Assembly arrangements.
Adopted by Southeast Alabama Presbytery at its 6th Stated Meeting, April 22, 1986.
Attest: Randy Kimbrough, Recording Clerk.
See 14-74, III, 19, p. 171.


Overture 52, from Ascension Presbytery, p. 44.
Whereas, there has been much concern throughout the General Assembly and the Church-at-large at the huge expenditures to have and accommodate the General Assembly; and
Whereas, in last year's denominational survey of churches not sending delegates to General Assembly the largest response for not attending was the high cost of attending the General Assembly; and
Whereas, we are commanded by our Lord to be good stewards of His resources; and
Whereas, the General Assembly is a biblical and necessary part of the Presbyterian Church in America; and
Whereas,
we should help and encourage all of the eligible brethren to attend and participate;
Be it resolved,
that each year's General Assembly arrangements committee be limited to use the facilities of colleges or conference centers, so that we might maintain a reasonable cost for all of the commissioners.
Attest: Frank D. Moser, Stated Clerk.
See 14-74, III, 19, p. 171.

14-74 Committee of Commissioners on Administration
III. Recommendations
[M14GA, 14-74, III, Items 14 and 19, p. 171]
19. That Overture #27 (p. 43) and Overture #47 (p. 43) and Overture #52 (p. 44) be answered by Committee Recommendation #14.
14. That the Manual for General Assembly Arrangements, Attachment A, p. 254, be approved with the following amendments: That the word "net" be inserted after "Assembly" and before "costs", line one, and after the word "proposed" and before "costs", line two of III. Financial Arrangements and that the following section be added under II. Location of Assemblies.
II. D. The cost of items included in C above shall be submitted to a previous General Assembly.
Adopted.

Appendix P -- Report of Ad Interim Committee to Study and Make Recommendations as to Structure and Procedure.
REPRESENTATIVE ASSEMBLY
[M14GA, Appendix P, p. 426 ]
This is an area which has evoked much discussion and debate across the Church. Your Committee has sought answers to many concerns such as:

(1) How is the Presbyterian principle of representative government to be implemented at the General Assembly level?
(2) How can we have an effective and efficient Assembly when there are now more than 2500 eligible to attend?
(3) How can we get more Ruling Elder participation?
(4) How can we protect the privilege of each Teaching Elder and each Church to attend in its turn without discrimination?
(5) How can we develop more effective review and control of our General Assembly committees, agencies and their staff?
(6) How can we best use the General Assembly meetings to inform, inspire, and build a fellowship among our people?

Your Committee found no easy answer to these concerns. But we believe the proposal set out in Exhibit "B" attached is a good starting point and answers many of such concerns. At least, we recommend that it be tried. If it doesn't work it can always be changed.
We point out that there are very significant changes from our proposal last year such as: a "grassroots" General Assembly as now constituted, each third year, a provision that a Presbytery may send one-half of its quota of teaching elders no matter how few ruling elders it sends, and an alternative election process whereby a Presbytery may choose up to fifty percent of its commissioners from the Presbytery at large and the other from its rotation roster.
Although the proposed BCO language in Exhibit "B" does not specify how the Assemblies should be conducted, it is the present opinion of the Committee that General Assembly Committees and Agencies would make major promotional presentations only at the triennial "grassroots" Assemblies.
Concerning expenses of commissioners, ordinarily the churches and sending bodies have borne these expenses; however, it is the opinion of the Ad Interim Committee that if this proposed amendment is adopted that Presbyteries, as soon as possible, should move toward Presbytery paying these expenses, as provided in BCO 10-6.

Appendix P -- Report of Ad Interim Committee to Study and Make Recommendations as to Structure and Procedure.
EXHIBIT "B"
[M14GA, Appendix P, p. 437-438. ]
Proposed Amendment to the Book of Church Order relating to General Assembly.
REPLACE BCO 14-2 WITH THE FOLLOWING:
14-2 GENERAL
A. The General Assembly, which is a permanent court, shall meet at least annually upon its own adjournment.
TRIENNIAL ASSEMBLY
B. In every third year following the adoption of this section, the General Assembly shall consist of all Teaching Elders in good standing with their Presbyteries, and Ruling Elders in the ratio of one from each congregation for each 500 members, or fraction thereof, but not to exceed five Ruling Elder Commissioners from any one congregation.
OTHER YEARS ASSEMBLY
C. In every other year, the General Assembly's maximum size shall be 800 commissioners. Although the number of commissioners from each Presbytery may be limited by II-3, below, such 800 commissioners shall be apportioned among the Presbyteries as follows:
1. Each Presbytery shall have at least one teaching elder and one ruling elder eligible to attend the Assembly. On the basis of the statistics as reported to the Stated Clerk's Office for the previous year, the General Assembly shall determine the apportionment of the 800 commissioners among the Presbyteries, as follows:
a. Determine the number of eligible commissioners from the entire denomination on the following formula: all teaching elders in good standing with their Presbyteries, one ruling elder from every congregation, with allowance of one additional ruling elder from every congregation for each 500 members, or fraction thereof, not to exceed 5 ruling elder commissioners from any one congregation.
b. Determine the percentage that the total possible commissioners from each Presbytery represents of the total possible commissioners from the entire denomination.
c. Multiply this percentage for each Presbytery times 800, rounding to the nearest whole, to determine each Presbytery's allotment.
d. In his annual report to the General Assembly, the Stated Clerk shall report this allotment for each Presbytery for the next General Assembly.
II. Each Presbytery shall elect its commissioners as follows unless procedures of III are followed:
1. The Stated Clerk of each Presbytery shall maintain a roster of teaching elders, in which the position of each shall be determined by:
a. The number of years since he last attended a General Assembly, whether as a delegate of this or another PCA Presbytery.
b. Alphabetical order in each year's class.
c. Each teaching elder shall automatically be elected as a commissioner as his name comes to the top of the roster.
d. The name of any eligible teaching elder who fails to attend such General Assembly shall be moved to the bottom of the roster, unless excused by his Presbytery because of his being providentially hindered.
e. Missionaries and Chaplains may notify the Stated Clerk of their Presbytery of the years they will be available to be commissioners, and the Stated Clerk shall adjust the Presbytery roster so that they have appropriate opportunity to be commissioners in accordance with their schedule.
f. A newly-ordained teaching elder or a teaching elder transferring from another denomination shall be placed at the bottom of the list. In the event of a Joining and Receiving of another ecclesiastical body into the PCA, the teaching elders shall be handled as if in the PCA all along.
2. The Stated Clerk of each Presbytery shall maintain a roster of the churches in which each church's position shall be determined by:
a. The number of years since it was last represented.
b. Alphabetical order by the church's post office and within a post office where there is more than one church, by alphabetical order by the church's names therein.
c. Any church which is eligible to send a Ruling Elder Commissioner and fails to do so shall be moved to the bottom of the roster; except if a church is entitled to send more than one Ruling Elder but cannot send its full quota because of its Presbytery's allotment limitation, it would be eligible in the succeeding year to complete that quota.
d. A newly organized church or a church being received from outside the PCA would start at the bottom of the roster in the Presbytery.
3. Although by the formula stated above, a Presbytery may be allotted a certain number of Teaching Elder Commissioners, such Presbytery shall be eligible to send to a particular General Assembly only the same number of Teaching Elder Commissioners as Ruling Elder Commissioners who have notified the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery, in writing, their good faith intention to attend at least ninety days prior to the opening date of the General Assembly. However, in the event that a Presbytery cannot obtain its full quota of Ruling Elder Commissioners, it would still be allowed to send at least one-half its quota of Teaching Elder Commissioners.
4. At its option, any Presbytery may make a provision for alternates following the Rosters of Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders as above set out.
III. As an alternative to the election process set out in II., above, the Presbytery has the option of electing up to 50% of its Teaching and/or Ruling Elder Commissioners from the Presbytery at large. The balance of the commissioners shall be elected as provided in II. above. If a teaching elder is so elected at large, his name goes to the bottom of the roster. If a ruling elder is so elected at large, his church does not go to the bottom of the list but maintains its place on the Roster of Churches.

1987
15-3, B, p. 50, Overture 27: from Covenant Presbytery
Whereas,
there have been numerous proposals presented to the General Assembly for a delegated Assembly, none of which have yet been approved by the Assembly, and
Whereas, the Ad-Interim Committee on the General Assembly has sought diligently to resolve the delegated Assembly question with various proposals, and
Whereas, there is much benefit from a General Assembly with commissioners from all of the churches, and
Whereas, there is a need to restrict the size of any General Assembly so it may remain small enough to be a deliberative body but also an evenly representative body, and
Whereas, there is a desire to have a near equal number of Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders present at each Assembly,
Therefore, Be it resolved that we overture the Fifteenth General Assembly to amend the Book of Church Order to provide for a delegated Assembly with Proposed amendments to the BCO as follows:

REPLACE BCO 14-2 WITH THE FOLLOWING 14-2

1. The General Assembly, which is a permanent court, shall meet at least annually upon it's own adjournment.
2. Every church shall be able to send at least one commissioner to the General Assembly on the following basis:
       A. Churches with less than 500 members will be able to send only one commissioner to each General Assembly each year. The commissioner from a church must alternate every year between a Teaching Elder and a Ruling Elder. Every church of this size will be designated in accordance with paragraph 4 of this chapter as to which years they will be allowed to send a Teaching Elder and to which years they will send a Ruling Elder as a commissioner to General Assembly,
       B. Churches with 500 members or more and less than 1000 members will be able to send only one Teaching Elder and only one Ruling Elder every year to the General Assembly as commissioners.
       C. Churches with 1000 members or more and less than 1500 members will be able to send only three commissioners every year to the General Assembly of which one commissioner must be a Teaching Elder and one commissioner must be a Ruling Elder.
       D. Churches with 1500 members or more and less than 2000 members will be able to send only two Teaching Elders and only two Ruling Elders to the General Assembly each year as Commissioners.
       E. Churches with 2000 members of more will be able to send only five commisioners to the General Assembly every year, two of which must be Teaching Elders and two of which must be Ruling Elders.
3. All Teaching Elders not on the staff of a particular PCA church will only be able to attend General Assembly every other year as a commissioner. In accordance with paragraph 4 of this chapter, these Teaching Elders will be assigned which years they may attend General Assembly as a commissioner and will only be able to attend as a commissioner in those designated years.
4. The Stated Clerk of each Presbytery shall be responsible under the Presbytery's authority for evenly dividing the distribution of churches with less than 500 members and Teaching Elders not on the staff of a PCA church between even and odd years so there will be as nearly an even distribution between Ruling and Teaching Elders eligible to attend each General Assembly. The Statistical Reports for the year ending prior to the General Assembly of the last reported statistics shall be used to determine the number of commissioners eligible for each church.
Approved by Covenant Presbytery meeting at Greenwood, MS, March 3, 1987.
Attest: Paul O. Honomichl, Stated Clerk.
Answered by action on the Ad Interim Committee on General Assembly. See 15-38, p. 105:

15-38 Ad Interim Committee on the General Assembly - Representative Assembly
.
RE Jack Williamson continued the report of the Committee from 15-36, p. 104, the Assembly moving as adopted into a quasi committee of the whole and then rising for debate and action. Recommendation 1 of the Majority Report (Appendix S, p. 475) proposing a delegated assembly was defeated by a vote of 329 affirmative, 423 negative. Recommendation 1 of the Minority Report was then adopted as follows:
1. That the Committee's proposed amendment to BCO 14-2, providing for a delegated assembly, be rejected, and if the life of the Ad Interim Committee is extended, that the Committee be directed not to pursue the concept of a delegated assembly further. Adopted.

[see also M15GA, Appendix S, pp. 476-477 and "Exhibit A", pp. 486-487.]


2001

Overture 6 from Heartland Presbytery [M29GA, 29-51, III, 3, p. 252.]
"Ask AC to Provide Options for Lower Costs and Greater RE Participation at General Assembly"
Whereas, the PCA has from its inception subscribed to the parity of Elders, and,
Whereas, since the first GA in 1973 when the enrollment was 208 Ruling Elders and 179 Teaching Elders, the disparity, between Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders has grown to as many as 2-1/2 Teaching Elders to 1 Ruling Elder (2.5 to 1) at some Assemblies; and, Whereas, the rising costs associated with attending GA has become a burden for many churches; therefore they send only one Commissioner and he is the pastor; and
Whereas, the perception of congregations is that General Assembly is a time for Teaching Elders to renew friendships rather than being on the floor and participating in the business of the Church; and,
Whereas, Ruling Elders do not have the advantage of knowing others attending in comparison to Teaching Elders who have developed friendships in seminary and other ministry opportunities; and,
Whereas, many of the Ruling Elders are frustrated by parliamentary, maneuvering and/or debate over semantics and technical points; and,
Whereas, many Ruling Elders subsequently become discouraged and choose not to return; and,
Whereas, the expenses for Ruling Elders are greater than the Teaching Elders (i.e., the RE often must use vacation and/or personal time; some self-employed are required to hire a substitute for them [increasing their personal cost]; and others often pay all the expenses related to GA from their personal account); and,
Whereas, previous assemblies (M16GA, p. 211) instructed the Administrative Committee (Stated Clerk's Office) to contract with motels, and/or convention centers in locations where pornographic and other questionable programming are not available; and,
Whereas, it is becoming more difficult to find such locations; and,
Whereas, previous Assemblies indicated their desire for facilities with Air Conditioning and other amenities; and,
Whereas, the opportunity for the Administrative Committee to negotiate contracts with motels etc. to host GA is limited; therefore adding to the rising costs;
Therefore, be it resolved that the Administrative Committee report to the 30th General Assembly in 2002 with recommendations and possible options how the General Assembly can have greater parity between elders while keeping the costs of GA as low as possible for final approval by the Assembly understanding that options before us may require the Assembly to approve significant changes so that costs may be reduced and greater involvement of Ruling Elders achieved.
Adopted at the 36th Stated Meeting of Heartland Presbytery, on November 11, 2000.
Attested by: /s/ Lawrence N. Lunceford
Answered in the affirmative and that the AC continue to work towards both of these items. Adopted.

2002 - to be checked.

2006
Overture 4 from Western Carolina Presbytery [M34GA, 34-43, III, Item 14, p. 161-162.]
"Direct AC to Revise Assembly Docket and Use Smaller Facilities for Assembly"
Whereas, the registration fee for the 34th General Assembly has been set at $400 for each commissioner; and
Whereas, this will further exacerbate the problem of small churches not being able to afford the cost, including housing and transportation, of sending both a Teaching Elder and a Ruling Elder; and
Whereas, the likely result in many cases will be that only the Teaching Elder will be sent, thus further reducing the representation of Ruling Elder commissioners; and
Whereas, one of the major contributing factors to the higher cost is the expense related to holding General Assembly in large metropolitan areas which have convention facilities capable of seating the large crowds coming to hear the high profile speakers at the evening sessions;
Therefore be it resolved, that Western Carolina Presbytery overtures the 34th General Assembly to take the following actions:
1. Direct the Administration Committee to schedule evening sessions as business sessions, thus possibly shortening General Assembly one day and also reducing the expense of General Assembly.
2. Direct the Administration Committee to rent facilities proportionate to the anticipated commissioner enrollment rather than the excessively large facilities currently being used, thus considerably reducing the cost and thus reducing the registration fee.
Adopted by Western Carolina Presbytery at the Stated Meeting on November 11, 2005.
Attested by /s/ Skip Gillikin, Stated Clerk.

Recommendation 14 [M34GA, 34-43, III, Item 14, p. 160-161.]
14.
That Overture 14 from Western Carolina Presbytery, "Direct AC to Revise Assembly Docket and Use Smaller Facilities for Assembly," be answered in the negative.
Adopted.
Grounds:
1.
Historically, the PCA General Assembly as a grass-roots annual gathering of the Church has been more than just an ecclesiastical business meeting. Corporate worship, fellowship, networking, exhibits, seminars, interest group meetings (CC, CTS, RTS, WTS, GPTS, PEF, MTW, MNA, AC, etc.) have been significant aspects of the annual Assembly.
2. Evening sessions are now devoted primarily to worship. A number of time slots for worship have been tried. The evening time slot for worship seems to work best.
3. Time is already available for business after the evening worship services, if such time is necessary.
4. Planning evening business sessions each night does make for some long (12-hour) workdays, which may not be efficient and could be counter-productive.
5. Using a meeting facility that would accommodate commissioners only would essentially change the nature of the Assembly form a multifaceted Assembly to a business-only Assembly.
6. We have just gone through a Strategic Planning process, which concluded that the multifaceted nature of the Assembly is one of the few means by which the PCA expresses its visible unity and sense of identity.

Overture 20 from Southeast Alabama Presbytery [M34GA, 34-9, p. 65]
"Revise RAO 9-7 to Authorize AC to elect site of General Assembly"
Whereas, the General Assembly's ad interim Committee on Strategic Planning Committee [SPC] is proposing the following change to the Rules of Assembly Operations for adoption by the Thirty-Fourth General Assembly:

Amend RAO 9-7 by adding the following:
9.7. The Administrative Committee shall be authorized to take the initiative to investigate and recommend to General Assembly sites for the annual meeting of the General Assembly, and to that end, the Administrative Committee shall be authorized to suggest to Presbyteries their hosting the annual meeting of the General Assembly.

And whereas,
the SPC gave as a rationale, "The change is intended to allow the AC to achieve economics that will enhance GA in being a self-supporting event;" and
Whereas, there is substantial wisdom to the proposed change by adding RAO 9-7; and
Whereas, the SPC has announced its intention that all proposed RAO changes coming from the SPC are to be "considered as a whole" by the Assembly; and
Whereas, some commissioners may desire to support the proposed amendment RAO 9-7 without reference to all other RAO changes being proposed by the SPC;
Therefore, Southeast Alabama Presbytery overtures the Thirty-fourth General Assembly to consider the above-proposed amendment to RAO 9-7 as a separate item of business.
Adopted by Southeast Alabama Presbytery at the Stated Meeting on April 25, 2006.
Attested by /s/ Henry Lewis Smith, Stated Clerk.

Recommendation 15 [M34GA, 34-9, p. 64 ]
15.
That Overture 20 from Southeast Alabama Presbytery, "Revise RAO 9-7 to Authorize AC to Select Site of General Assembly," be answered in the affirmative as follows:
Amend the RAO by adding a new 9-8 to wit:
9-7. The Administrative Committee shall be authorized to take the initiative to investigate and recommend to General Assembly sites for the annual meeting of the General Assembly, and to that end, the Administrative Committee shall be authorized to suggest to Presbyteries their hosting the annual meeting of the General Assembly.
Grounds:
Allowing the AC to take the initiative in selecting Assembly sites would provide for competitive bidding and would be more cost effective.

Overture 24 from Western Carolina Presbytery [M34GA, 34-43, III, Item 17, p. 165. ]
"Postpone Action on SPC Proposals Regarding Bills & Overtures and Ask AC to Prepare BCO Amendments for a Delegated Assembly"
Whereas, there is concern over the fact there is poor ruling elder participation at the General Assembly level; and
Whereas, the recent amendments to the Book of Church Order providing for larger numbers of ruling elders to be allowed to be sent to the Assembly has not resulted in an increased participation of the ruling elders at the level of the General Assembly; and
Whereas, there is concern over the increasing cost of large convention facilities now required for the present size of the General Assembly; and
Whereas, the present size of the Assembly does not permit the possibility of adequate discussion of issues before the Assembly; and
Whereas, there are radical proposals being made to the 34th General Assembly regarding the change of the Rules for Assembly Operations that minimize the function of the Committees of Commissioners regarding the Permanent Committees and Agencies, and will shift the actual operation of the Assembly from the floor of the Assembly to the super Committee of Commissioners on Bills and Overtures;
Now be it resolved, that the 34th General Assembly postpone action on all of the proposed changes to the BCO and RAO currently before the Assembly, and that the whole matter be referred to the Administrative Committee to bring to the 35th General Assembly an alternative proposal to amend both the BCO and the RAO to provide for a representative Assembly elected by the Presbyteries not to exceed 350 commissioners, expenses for whom will be paid for by either the

Recommendation 17 [M34GA, 34-43, III, Item 17, p. 165.]
17.
That Overture 24 from Western Carolina Presbytery, "Postpone Actions on SPC Proposals Regarding Bills & Overtures and Ask AC to Prepare BCO Amendments for a Delegated Assembly," be answered in the negative.
Adopted.
Grounds:
The SPC has been examining these issues over the last five years. The Assembly should act on the recommendations from the SPC.


Documentary History of the Debate over Delegated Assemblies, 1975-2006 :


Chapter Index [links to Par. 1 of each chapter]:
FoG..
1
2
3.
4
5.
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
§4
§5
RoD
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
II. Preliminary Principles
§1
§2
§3
§4
§5
§6
§7
§8
DfW
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]

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