As noted in this blog post, and again here attempt was made at last summer's General Assembly, to amend this portion of our Rules of Assembly Operation. Though the motion that I put forth received a majority of votes it fell short of the required 2/3s majority to change our bylaws. The next day the moderator of the assembly, RE Dan Carroll, encouraged me to work on the language and bring this matter up in 2012.
On Saturday January 14, 2012 Great Lakes Presbytery convened for its stated winter meeting. On the docket was an overture to amend Rules of Assembly Operations (RAO) 15-1. Below is the overture that was passed with unanimous consent:
Whereas the Rules of Assembly Operation were amended in the recent past to streamline the business of the General Assembly, and
Whereas the Overtures Committee was created to debate overtures to the General Assembly by a delegated body of commissioners, and
Whereas each presbytery has the right to elect two representatives annually (one TE and RE) to serve on this committee, and
Whereas most presbyteries avail themselves of this right by sending representatives to serve on this committee so that they have a voice on important constitutional matters, and
Whereas denominational Agencies and Committees have made recommendations to amend our denomination's constitution and brought those directly to the General Assembly bypassing the Overtures Committee, and
Whereas overtures have come to the General Assembly from presbyteries that sometimes mix amendments to the Book of Church Order with other business (e.g. funding the Administrative Committee), and
Whereas such "mixed" overtures are sometimes sent to an Agency or Committee for deliberation and debate resulting in said Agencies or Committees recommending changes to our denomination's constitution without consulting the Overtures Committee, and
Whereas in such instances the Overtures Committee is being bypassed and denied the right to debate important matters that affect our denomination, and
Whereas these actions pose a direct threat to the 'grass-roots Presbyterianism' envisioned by our denomination's founders and subverts the role of the Overtures Committee,
Therefore, let it be resolved that Great Lakes Presbytery petitions The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America to adopt this overture to amend section 15-1 Rules of Assembly Operation with the following language (new language underlined):
15-1. The Overtures Committee shall consider and make recommendation upon all overtures and recommendations from Committees or Agencies proposing constitutional amendment and all other overtures referred by the Stated Clerk.