Meeting in Assembly Buildings, Belfast, the General Assembly is the denomination’s principle governing and decision-making body and the highest court of the Church. It opened last night with the formal nomination, election and installation of the Moderator, Right Reverend Dr John Kirkpatrick of Portrush Presbyterian Church in County Antrim. Dr Kirkpatrick is the 177th person to hold the office since the establishment of PCI in 1840 and the first to come from the Portrush congregation.
Business will open this morning at 10am with Dr Kirkpatrick taking the chair and will close at 5.45pm. After today’s business, at 7.45pm the General Assembly Evening Celebration will take place.
You can watch today's proceedings via the livestream here.
Today’s business before the Assembly
The following reports will come before the General Assembly today:
- Initial Report of the General Assembly Business Committee
- Reports of Presbytery
- General Council (Section 1)
- Council for Training in Ministry
- General Council (Section 2)
- Code Republication Panel
The General Council is PCI’s senior decision making body that takes any necessary decisions on behalf of the General Assembly between its meetings. The General Council has conducted its business through 6 General Assembly committees and 8 task groups and one panel this year. Of all the Annual Reports before the General Assembly, the Report of the General Council is the longest, running to just under 100 pages out of the 272 in the Blue Book, which contains all the reports and resolutions. To facilitate business during the week its report is divided into five sections, with discussion and debate on its contents and resolutions taking place today, Friday afternoon, and Saturday afternoon.
Today the General Council's Reports include:
- Decision Making & Dissent Task Group
- Doctrine Committee
- Support Service Committee
- United Appeal Committee
- Guyesmere Panel.
The General Assembly will also hear from the Council for Training in Ministry. This Council has responsibility of looking after all aspects of selection, training and ongoing development of full-time ministers. In addition, amongst its other responsibilities, it selects, trains and develops auxiliary ministers, accredited preachers and deaconesses who in turn serve in congregations and communities. Management of Union Theological College, which exists to train effective ministers who will lead Christ’s church, forms a central part of this Councils’ work.
During this session there will also be an announcement of a major international conference that Union Theological College will be holding in the autumn.
Worship will also take place at 12.15 along with the Reception of delegates and one of the highlights of the General Assembly, Listening to the Global Church.
Full details on each of the reports and where to find them in the Blue Book can be found below
GENERAL ASSEMBLY BUSINESS COMMITTEE
- Initial Report and Resolutions 1-5 (pages 3-4 and 259)
REPORTS OF PRESBYTERIES (pages 99-105)
GENERAL COUNCIL: Section 1 of Report and Resolution 6 (pages 1-21 and 259)
- Executive Summary and Introduction
- Decision Making and Dissent Task Group
- Doctrine Committee
Reception of Delegates
- 1pm Lunch
COUNCIL FOR TRAINING IN MINISTRY:
Report and Resolutions (pages 106-116 and 263)
Listening to the Global Church - Hearing the heart
GENERAL COUNCIL: Section 2 of Report and Resolutions 7-9 (pages 22-52 and 259-260)
- Support Services Committee
- United Appeal Committee
- Guysmere Panel
Code Republication Panel (pages 192-194 and 266)
Evening Celebration - Grace Works
You can read the reports and resolutions as they relate to the page numbers above here.
Reception of delegates
Following the first three items of today’s business - reports from the General Assembly Business Committee and the Church’s 19 regional presbyteries, the Moderator will receive the delegates from both local and overseas denominations. These include delegates from the Reformed Church in Hungary, Church of North India (Gujurat Diocese) Scripture Union Malawi and Presbyterian Church of East Africa. Local representatives will also be received by Dr Kirkpatrick. These will include guests from the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Religious Society for Friends and the Irish Council of Churches, who will also address the Assembly. Following the reception of delegates worship will take place.
Listening to the Global Church
An important feature of General Assemblies for the last seven years will take place today in the form the Council for Global Mission’s alternative presentation - ‘Listening to the Global Church’. This year it is entitled ‘Hearing the Heart’.
Always a highlight of the General Assembly, it is an important opportunity to hear the challenges and opportunities that colleagues in our partner churches are facing around the world. Through Listening to the Global Church Members seek to hear whatever PCI’s partners feel able to share from their hearts, especially about what God is doing in their lives today. Representatives from Hungarian Reformed Church, Church of North India, and Presbyterian Church of East Africa will be taking part.
You can see all the business before the General Assembly this week here.