We know many of you are curious about whether the 48th General Assembly scheduled for June 16-19, 2020 in Birmingham will continue as planned. A decision has not been made, but we want to answer some common questions about how the decision will be made and the impact of a postponement on our work as a denomination.
Is the Assembly required to meet annually?
Yes. BCO 14-2 states, “The General Assembly, which is a permanent court, shall meet at least annually upon its own adjournment.”
But, the Rules of Assembly Operation have a contingency clause to account for extraordinary circumstances. According to RAO 10-6, “In case of extraordinary events occurring or unusual circumstances arising that make it impractical for the General Assembly to hold its annual stated meeting on the dates or at the site previously approved by the Assembly, the Moderator with the Administrative Committee shall be authorized, upon the recommendation of the Stated Clerk and Moderator, to make alternative arrangements.”
When will a decision be made regarding the 48th General Assembly?
The next important date in the decision-making process regarding the 48th General Assembly is April 23 when the Administrative Committee will have its normally scheduled meeting virtually due to the crisis. The current situation is fluid and the decision could be accelerated as local, state, or federal officials impose regulations about large gatherings, but at this time the AC does not have a special called meeting on its schedule to consider the matter (RAO 4-14).
Who will be part of the decision-making process?
Besides the Administrative Committee and any special regulations imposed by governing authorities, two other parties will have a part in the decision-making process:
- The Moderator and the Stated Clerk will be part of the process as required by RAO 10-6 previously cited.
- We will also consult the local host committee from Evangel Presbytery who will have a significant voice in the decision-making process. They have worked for over a year to put this event together and are more familiar with the way the current crisis has impacted Birmingham and their volunteers.
According to RAO 10-1, “Final approval of all decisions regarding the Assembly shall rest in the Administrative Committee.”
The Moderator and the Stated Clerk have not yet made a recommendation to the Administrative Committee.
The Administrative Committee will also take into account that many presbyteries will have cancelled their spring meetings when they might normally take action on items pertaining to the Assembly (BCO amendments, overtures, etc.).
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