The Book of Church Order (BCO) and Rules of Assembly Operation (RAO) set up an elaborate procedure for making nominations to the General Assembly (GA) committees and agencies and the Standing Judicial Commission (SJC). Nominees must first be approved by their presbyteries and provide a biographical sketch that includes a summary of their church, presbytery and General Assembly involvement.
All of this information must be sent to the stated clerk’s office by a hard deadline so it can be collated in what is known as the “Rainbow Book,” which outlines the terms of service, rules of eligibility, and responsibilities of the various committees and boards of the PCA. The book is distributed to the Nominating Committee, which consists of a member from every presbytery. These members serve a three-year term; terms rotate between ruling and teaching elders. They meet annually to review the résumés of those approved by the presbyteries and to present to the GA one nominee for each committee, agency board and SJC opening. When these nominations are presented at the GA meeting, any commissioner may nominate any elder in good standing to oppose a committee nominee.
Northern New England Presbytery has proposed Overture 12, which they believe preserves the right of the GA to elect committee members by floor nomination and honors the work of the presbyteries and the Nominating Committee in presenting candidates. The proposal would limit those nominated from the floor to those approved by their presbyteries and sent to the Nominating Committee. Exception would be made in a case where the presbyteries have not approved a sufficient number of candidates.
According to Ian Hard, pastor of the church that proposed the overture, under the current rule, an officer can be nominated on the floor of the GA and elected to serve on a permanent committee even if he did not seek or receive nomination from his own presbytery.
“This overture seeks to reaffirm the work of local presbyteries and the Nominating Committee,” Hard says. “The intent is to honor the movement up from presbyteries, rather than giving an unintended privilege to the Assembly over the actions of the presbyteries.”
The overture has been referred to the Committee on Constitutional Business to advise on its compatibility with the constitution, and to the Overtures Committee for its recommendation to the GA.