Several overtures were submitted to General Assembly last year with the intention of changing portions of BCO 15-5 so that General Assembly reflects the presbytery model of allowing the entire body to have the final say in Standing Judicial Commission rulings. One of the more surprising overtures suggested that the opposite would make more sense — for presbyteries to reflect General Assembly’s model, allowing the decisions of judicial commissions to be final.

This year, Pacific Northwest Presbytery submitted a new overture that would, in a sense, merge the two recommendations. The proposed recommendation calls for portions of BCO 15-1 and 15- 3 to be modified to allow an individual presbytery to decide whether the ruling of a judicial commission should be brought to a vote in the larger group or whether it should be final.

“After my 16 years on the SJC reviewing complaints and appeals often arising from a presbytery’s approval of a non-debatable judicial commission judgment, it became clear there could be a better way,” said Howard Donahoe, clerk of Pacific Northwest. “Presbyteries should have the option of appointing a judicial commission to act with finality on a judicial matter. This option mirrors how the SJC works at the General Assembly level.

“By giving presbyteries this additional option, it should make judicial commissions more efficient and expedite final decisions. Since justice delayed is sometimes justice denied, anything that could assist the prompt rendering of a decision should be considered. This overture, if adopted, could allow a Presbytery to reach a final decision months earlier.”

To read the overture, please click here.

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