Thursday, June 24, 2010

More on General Assembly overtures

Someone e-mailed me and asked how I thought each overture vote would go.

I'm very limited in my capacity to speculate/anticipate on this sort of thing-- I've tried in the past and been surprised as where I was wrong. That said, here are my best guesses for what the Bills and Overtures Committee (B&O) will bring, and how it will go:
  • Overtures 3, 4, 8, 19, 26, and 27 are all boundary changes for presbyteries. All of these will pass quickly.
  • Overtures 1 and 28 are simple resolutions/affirmations of existing positions, and probably both will pass. #28 may be thrown out because it is so redundant, but given the subject matter, I doubt it.
  • Overtures 2, 7, and 9 are all appeals to amend BCO 9-7 regarding diaconal assistants and clarification thereof. I expect that B&O will combine these into a single harmonized overture, taking something of the best of each (and the final result will probably be mostly #9). I would think this would pass, but not without some discussion on the floor.
  • Overtures 5 and 18 address the same issue in very different ways: one is a BCO amendment, and the other actually undoes a BCO amendment from last year (until it can be properly approved). #5 addresses the problem, but also gives open acknowledgement that there are some parts of the BCO that are "non-binding" (which at present is only due to a "temporary statement" adopted 34 years ago at the 4th G.A.!); therefore, it may be defeated for lack of willingness to declare any part of the BCO officially "non-binding". Given the climate of fear regarding litigation and other consequences with regard to same-sex marriage, I'd be surprised if #18 passes-- unless it can be done with the illicit amendment from last year remaining in place while the approval carries on, which would be weird.
  • Overtures 6 and 20 look at variations of future General Assemblies, both requesting study/consideration by the Administrative Committee. I don't see why either should fail, because it doesn't represent any increase in cost to the Assembly.
  • Overture 10 offers a proposed BCO amendment that would open up diaconal ministry to unordained men and women. This overture will have to be presented on the floor of the Assembly as-is, it seems to me, because it simply wouldn't work to consolidate it with any other amendment: it DOES overture an amendment of BCO 9-7, like the ones above, but also other parts of the BCO. And it is different from #25, both because #25 doesn't offer a BCO amendment and because #10 goes much further than #25. My guess is that #10 will be defeated.
  • Overtures 11 and 15 both offer amendments to the BCO regarding how mission churches are overseen and organized. These will probably be combined by B&O and offered as a single overture, and it will pass without much discussion.
  • Overtures 12, 17, and 22 all ask the PCA to urge the retention of the "Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell" policy. These will be consolidated into a single overture, and there will be a number of people who rise to speak in favor of it. One or two brave voices will speak against it, because (as I said in my earlier post) it is hiding from biblical proclamation about a difficult public topic and the overture is based on the grounds of avoiding legal action. Nevertheless, it will pass.
  • Overture 14 (about "intincture" in General Assembly worship) will be presented on its own, and there will be some discussion about it. I'm not sure how this one will go, but my best guess is that it will be voted down because: a) intincture isn't prohibited by our BCO's Directory for Worship; b) our BCO's Directory for Worship is (unofficially) "non-binding"; and c) it sets a poor precedent for how we determine what forms and styles of worship are acceptable for future General Assemblies. However, IF it passes, look for overtures in 2011 that seek a similar prohibition for certain music styles.
  • Overture 21 affirms the coordination of disaster relief efforts, and it will be presented on its own. It will pass.
  • Overture 23 asks for a study committee on political and economic justice, and it will be presented alone. There will be some who speak against it because they will argue that it isn't the role of the church to speak to this sorts of public matters (yet many of the same will affirm the declaration about the sanctity of life, in spite of the fact that it directly speaks to the public policy issue of abortion). Others will oppose it because it represents a cost to the Assembly to erect a study committee. Overall, though, I think (and hope) it will pass.
  • Overture 24, the call for PCA renewal, will probably be presented as it is: an alternative to the proposed Strategic Plan. There will be some floor debate about it (probably a surprising amount-- at least, surprising to me), and it will be narrowly defeated after several calls for division (= counting of the votes), and the proposed Strategic Plan from the Administrative Committee will pass.

And that wraps up all of the overtures (though not all in numerical order). It will be interesting to see where I'm right and where I'm way off. Next week, we'll all find out.

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