View this email in your browser

The Church Responds to the Opioid Crisis, Electronic Meetings Follow-up, Introducing Constitutional Corner …


April 16, 2018

From Tricia Dykers Koenig,
Associate for Mid Council Relations, 502-569-8360


Per Capita

The Easter Monday episode of Coffee with the Clerk features discussion of the ministry enabled by per capita giving, with Shannan Vance-Ocampo and Wayne Yost.

For specifics about the proposal approved by COGA and PMAB to be considered by the 223rd General Assembly (2018), read the narrative budget.

Opioid Crisis

A number of presbyteries and/or their congregations are sponsoring events designed to help their congregations respond to the opioid crisis. (Image by M.Rode-Foto /Adobe Stock)
  • Many thanks to Tim Wolfe, Presbytery of the Miami Valley, for this account of the retreat held by the Stephen Ministry of his congregation, the Presbyterian Church of Hamilton, Ohio. Tim lists a number of actions congregations can take to address the epidemic.
  • Check out the fact sheet and the PowerPoint provided by the Presbytery of Providence.
  • The Presbytery of Newton has posted a video of a presentation as well as a resource sheet.
If your presbytery is addressing this issue, what have you learned that can help others’ ministries?

Electronic Meetings: Follow-up

I am grateful to Greg Goodwiller, Presbytery of St. Andrew, for responding to the article about electronic meetings in the last issue of this newsletter. A professional registered parliamentarian, Greg has a great deal of experience and offers advice and a helpful clarification:
We use Adobe Connect as our primary meeting service, and I am a big fan of that technology. …

I am willing to serve as a resource on this at any time, including helping draft rules for councils to adopt—which I contend need to be written specifically for the technology or technologies being used. An electronic meeting in Adobe Connect is very different from one in Zoom, for example, even though they are both teleconference technologies.

I have one specific comment on a section of your article, related to email voting and your use of the word “ratify.” Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised (RONR) (p. 124, ll. 24–27) states, “The motion to ratify (also called approve or confirm) is an incidental main motion that is used to confirm or make valid an action already taken that cannot become valid until approved by the assembly.” By requiring that actions be ratified at the next meeting, I believe that a council is calling into question the “status” of the motion between when the vote is taken and when it is ratified—and that particularly if the matter voted on has any legal or financial ramifications, that could become very problematic.

A better solution would be to simply authorize the conditions under which such an action may be taken—and how—and then require that it be reported at the next meeting, so that it can be included in meeting minutes. Here is the policy statement I wrote for St. Andrew that has also been adopted by the Synod of Living Waters and Living Waters for the World:

2.04.65 Action Between Meetings
The Presbytery of St. Andrew authorizes its commissions, committees, boards, and agencies to take action required or permitted to be taken at a meeting with like effect between meetings of the entity, provided that every member is contacted either in person or via email and no member objects. If contacted via email, verification must consist of an email reply stating “no objection,” or words to that effect.

If any member objects or wishes to have discussion on the motion, then a special meeting is required to take the action. Discussion via email in lieu of a meeting is not sufficient.

Such action, if taken, shall be recorded in the minutes of the next meeting of the entity as an action taken by unanimous consent between meetings in accordance with the rules.
I hope you will take Greg up on his offer to help you draft rules appropriate to the needs of your mid council, and/or to assist your sessions. And if you have further thoughts to contribute to the conversation, send them along.

Introducing “Constitutional Corner”

The OGA’s associate director for constitutional services, Laurie Griffith, is initiating a new feature for this newsletter. In her first installment, she lifts up some issues your mid councils and sessions may face if the current housing allowance rules are found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and suggests being prepared.

Information about the issues—both the current litigation and General Assembly guidance on the matter—has been prepared by two attorneys serving the PC(USA), Associate General Counsel April Davenport and Manager for Judicial Process and Social Witness Flor Vélez-Díaz.

Attention Stated Clerks!

In light of the transition from Kay Moore to Becca Cummings as manager of assembly business, we want to be sure that none of your items of assembly business has fallen through the cracks. Please help us out by checking that your business (including concurrences) has been posted to PC-Biz; if you can’t find it, contact Becca right away at

General Assembly Dates to Know

  • April 17: Sixty-day deadline for General Assembly business with financial implications
  • May 3: Registration deadline
  • May 6: Forty-five-day deadline for General Assembly business with no constitutional or financial implications
  • June 16–23: 223rd General Assembly (2018), St. Louis, Missouri

GA223 Commissioners Set to Take a Break

In a dramatic departure from longstanding practice, the Thursday evening (June 21) business session of the General Assembly will be replaced by a jazz concert featuring Grammy-winning tenor saxophonist Kirk Whalum and a celebration of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s “Hands & Feet” initiative. The concert and celebration is a ticketed event of the 223rd General Assembly (2018). To purchase tickets, go to the General Assembly registration page

Announcing New Hands and Feet Yearlong Internship Opportunity

The Center, a mission initiative of the Presbytery of Baltimore, is offering a 2018–2019 yearlong internship opportunity in conjunction with the Office of the General Assembly of the PC(USA) and its new initiative, Hands and Feet. Find the description and application instructions here.

Announcing Open Positions

Could God be calling you, or do you have someone to recommend or encourage?

Director of Communications, Office of the General Assembly

Job openings published here upon request.

Conference Dates

Mid Council Leaders Gathering
Cosponsored by the Office of the General Assembly and the Board of Pensions (BOP): a combination of the former Fall Polity Conference (OGA) and the Regional Benefits Consultations (BOP). October 5–7, 2018, Chicago, Hyatt Regency O’Hare.
Association of Stated Clerks and Association of Mid Council Leaders
October 7–9, 2018, Chicago, Hyatt Regency O’Hare.

Mid Council Financial Network Conference
This conference is a continuing education and training opportunity for people who work with finances for synods, presbyteries, and congregations.
November 7–9, 2018, Austin, Texas, Holiday Inn Austin Town Lake
Moderators Conference
November 15–17, 2018, Louisville, Brown Hotel 
Copyright © 2018 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.