Ruling Elder E.J. Nusbaum first attended a PCA General Assembly (GA) in 1997 as a volunteer with the host committee in Colorado Springs. At that time, he was a ruling elder at Village Seven Presbyterian Church, but he rarely attended a presbytery meeting, let alone the national Assembly. After his 1997 experience, he decided to change that pattern.
Nusbaum developed such skill at GA that in 2007 the Assembly elected him moderator. Over the past 20 years Nusbaum has served on the Committee on Constitutional Business and Overtures Committee. Currently he serves on the Standing Judicial Commission.
Nusbaum talked with byFaith about why ruling elder involvement matters at GA.
As a ruling elder, what about General Assembly business made you want to attend a GA?
My “first” GA was in Colorado Springs at my home church. I was not a registered commissioner, but I did go onto the floor of the Assembly for a little while to see what was going on. I do not remember the topic being discussed, but I do remember that the discussion was intense and serious. I figured this must be something important, so I decided to go to the next Assembly and jump in.
Many of the discussions and decisions that take place at General Assembly have a direct effect on ministry and how the kingdom advances. Each ruling elder has gifts and talents that can contribute to those discussions and decisions.
[The following year] I was able to participate in discussions about relocating the PCA headquarters. The decision regarding the headquarters move involved issues of stewardship, caring for employees, church polity, and unity. Every year the Assembly deals with issues that impact the ministry of the church, some in big ways and some in small ways. Those business issues are important, and I want to contribute to the process when I can.
You serve as a ruling-elder advocate. What does that mean, and what do you do?
I try to identify other ruling elders in my presbytery who may have the availability and a desire to attend GA. Once they are identified, I try to encourage them to attend and then mentor them as they prepare for and participate in their first Assembly.
Why is it important for ruling elders to participate at GA?
Many of the discussions and decisions that take place at General Assembly have a direct effect on ministry and how the kingdom advances. Each ruling elder has gifts and talents that can contribute to those discussions and decisions. For the men who do not enjoy or feel gifted to participate in parliamentary debate, they can still contribute by listening carefully and voting, using their particular gifts and experiences to discern the best course of action.
For those who are comfortable in the debate, they can bring great insight that will help the whole Assembly make better decisions.