The way that business gets to this meeting is this: Someone from one of our churches proposes and idea about something they want addressed, so they send in what we call an overture but what would be called a motion in any other kind of business meeting. It needs to be sent to the Bills and Overtures Committee 120 days before the GA if it has financial implications or 90 days if it doesn’t. The Bills and Overture Committee compares all overtures that address the same thing and sends to the appropriate committee the one that includes most of the ideas and is the most clearly written. There are fourteen such committees, each dealing with a certain aspect of the PC(USA). Some of them are the Social Justice Committee, the Mission Coordination Committee, the Middle East Committee, the Ecumenical and Interfaith Committee, the Environmental Issues Committee, the Church Polity and Ordered Ministry Committee, The Way Forward Committee, and and seven more. The overtures are addressed in committee (like I wrote about) before they come before the plenary, as they did today and will continue to do for the next couple of days. Some of the overtures are simple and are passed without much discussion, while others address issues that are complex and will take a significant amount of discussion to get agreement. We are dealing with the relatively simple ones today, but it is fascinating to learn about all the ways our church serves its people. The Presbyterian Church is called The Connectional Church just because it addresses all areas of concern in today’s world.
The theme of this General Assembly is “Building the Kin-dom,” which you can see is a play on the words “Building the Kingdom.” We have had two very interesting Bible studies that explained how God’s kingdom is not like earthly kingdoms of the time with their top-down rule by one dominant figure. It is more a gathering of all kin where brotherly love, not domination, is the expectation and the norm.
You can learn more about all the news and activities of the GA, even those Bible studies, if you go to pcusa.org on your computers. The first several pages give you more detail about everything I have mentioned and much more.