The deadline for submitting overtures to the 41st General Assembly has passed. The 23 overtures submitted by 11 presbyteries prior to the deadline are listed below.
Pacific Northwest Presbytery has proposed 7 overtures:
- Overture 1, subject of a previous post at this site, was sent to the Assembly by Pacific Northwest Presbytery. It calls for the amendment of Rules of Assembly Operation Article One by adding a new final paragraph to set a combined special order for six items at each Assembly. The proposed items, which would be docketed immediately after reconvening on the second morning of the Assembly, are: (1) Voting on BCO amendments previously approved by Presbyteries; (2) the Report of the Standing Judicial Commission; (3) the Report of the Nominating Committee; (4) the Report of the Committee on Review of Presbytery Records; (5) the Report of Overtures Committee; and (6) the Report of any Ad-Interim Committee (if the report contains recommendations). To read the text of the overture and the rationale for it, click here.
- Overture 11 calls for the Assembly to assign to the Administrative Committee the task of developing a plan for the feasibility of transitioning to a largely-paperless GA. Click here to read an article in byFaith that explains this proposal and the reasons for it. For the full text of the overture and supporting rationale, click here.
- Overture 12 calls for amendment to BCO 20-6 to update the form for the call to a pastor, and also recommends the addition of an Appendix J to the BCO that would provide a form for the congregation to record the details of the call. A byFaith article explaining the proposal may be found by clicking here. The text and complete rationale for this overture my be found when you click here.
- Overture 13 calls on the Assembly to amdend BCO 34-8 and 37-6 to require a 2/3 vote before removing a censure of deposition for scandalous conduct. To read a byFaith article explaining this proposed change, click here. For the text and rationale for this overture, click here.
- Overture 14 proposes the amendment of several BCO paragraphs regarding indefinite suspension from office. The Presbytery argues that some disiplinary cases require a greater flexibility in the imposition of the censure of suspension from office than the current language allows. To read the text of the overture and the rational behind it, click here.
- Overture 15 recommends a change in BCO 43-10 regarding a very specific circumstance: a lower court declines to indict someone, against whom allegations of a doctrinal deviation or public scandal have been made; a Complaint is filed against that decision; the higher court sustains that Complaint and rules the lower court erred by not indicting the alleged offender; and the lower court References the matter back to the higher court. The recommended change would require the higher court in such an instance to accede to the request and institute process. To read the text of this overture and its rationale, click here.
- In Overture 16, Pacific Northwest is resubmitting the substance of a proposal sent to the 40th General Assembly (then designated Overture 18) and returned to them, without prejudice, for further consideration. It proposes amendment of two BCO paragraphs outlining the procedure to be followed when a court “declines to order an indictment” (newly proposed wording) of someone accused of doctrinal deviation or public scandal, and other co-ordinate courts ask the next highest court to assume original jurisdiction of the matter. Besides the recommended change in the language noted above, the overture proposes an increase in the number of presbyteries required for the General Assembly to assume original jurisdiction in such an instance (from two presbyteries to at least 5% of the presbyteries – the proposal to the 40th GA called for the number to be 7%). In addition, the overture to this year’s Assembly proposes additional language that indicates it would be “appropriate” for the co-ordinate courts petitioning the higher court to assume original jurisdiction to contribute toward the expenses of the consequent investigation and trial. For the overture text and explanation, and references that will direct the reader to the more extensive rationale offered for last year’s Overture 18, click here.
North Texas Presbytery has sent three overtures to the Assembly:
- Overture 2 seeks to clarify several matters concerning mission churches in BCO 5, which was revised extensively in 2011. Overture 3 would modify the procedure for granting powers to an evangelist. An article in byFaith Online featuring a discussion with members of North Texas Presbytery in which they explain the reasons they are submitting these overtures may be found by clicking here. For the text of Overture 2, click here; for the text of Overture 3, click here.
- North Texas has also submitted Overture 7, which requests the Assembly to erect a Committee to examine the teaching on the Sabbath in the Westminster Standards. The Committee would be empowered to study the issue and propose “necessary and appropriate” amendments to the Standards. For an explanation of their reasons for proposing this overture, see the article in byFaith by clicking here. For the text of Overture 7 and the rationale for it, click here.
Suncoast Presbytery has also submitted three overtures:
- Overtures 4, 5, and 6 all seek to clarify what papers and reasoning should be considered by a higher court handling a complaint or an appeal from a lower court. ByFaith Online has interviewed TE Bill Lyle, a member of Suncoast Presbytetry who is also a member of the Standing Judicial Commission and helped draft the overtures. To read the article, click here. The Text and rationale for Overture 4 may be found by clicking here; for Overture 5, click here; for Overture 6, click here.
James River has sent two overtures to the Assembly:
- Overture 8 calls for a revision of the second ordination vow for ruling and teaching elders. To read an explanation of this proposal one of the members of James River has given to byFaith, click here. The text and full official rationale may be found by clicking here.
- In Overture 9, James River asks for the Assembly to divide their presbytery, creating a new Virginia Tidewater Presbytery. To read the text of this overture, which includes the proposed boundaries of the new presbytery, click here.
Westminster Presbytery has submitted one overture:
- Overture 10 is the resubmission of a proposal it sent to the 40th General Assembly that would amend BCO 37-4 to specify that a court that excommunicates a member would be the one that restores that member upon his or her giving evidence of repentance. For further explanation of the overture, click here for the article about it in byFaith. For their the text of the overture and the full rationale that was sent to the Assembly in support of it, click here.
Ascension Presbytery has submitted two overtures:
- Overture 17 calls for the amendment of Westminster Confession of Faith 21-5 to include the collection of funds as an element of worship. To read the article about this overture in byFaith, click here. For the text of this overture and the rationale for the change it suggests, click here.
- Overture 18 calls for amendment of BCO 12-6 to require that the business conducted at a called meeting of Session be restricted to the stated purpose or purposes for which the meeting was called. This restriction would bring called Session meetings into harmony with similar restrictions placed on called Presbytery and General Assembly meetings. For the overture’s text and rationale, click here.
Illiana Presbytery has submitted one overture:
Gulf Coast, Calvary, and Mississippi Valley Presbyteries have submitted Overtures 20, 21, and 22, respectively:
- The three overtures are identical. They ask the General Assembly to assume original jurisdiction and direct the Standing Judicial Commission to hear “Pacific Northwest Presbytery v. Peter Leithart” under the provisions of BCO 34-1 on the grounds that the Presbytery refused to act by not declaring a mistrial in this case. For the text and rationale for Overture 20, click here; for Overture 21, click here; for Overture 22, click here.
Great Lakes Presbytery has submitted one overture:
- Overture 23 asks the General Assembly to direct the Standing Judicial Committee to find a Case 2012-09 administratively in order, to proceed to hear the case (either by panel or by the full Commission), and to render a decision on it. The case was declared administratively out of order by the SJC. To read the Overture and the rational for it, click here.
We will will link to byFaith Online articles on overtures as those articles are released.