GA23: Day Three Preview – Saturday 24 June 2023
Saturday marks the third and final day of business at the 2023 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Ministers and elders from the Church’s 500-plus congregations across Ireland, along with corresponding members from home and overseas, have been meeting in General Assembly for worship, prayer, celebration, debate and discussion. It will close on the afternoon of Saturday, 24 June.
Business starts at 10.30am and continues into this afternoon. The final business sessions, including any lapsed business from the two previous days, begin at 3pm
You can attend the public gallery, or watch the livestream here.
One this page you will find:
- Business before the Assembly
- A description of the responsibilities of each Council
- Links to the Blue Book and full business schedule and
- other relevant information.
Meeting in Assembly Buildings in Belfast, the General Assembly is the all-Ireland denomination’s principle governing and decision-making body and the highest court of the Church. It opened on Wednesday evening with the formal nomination, election and installation of the Moderator, Right Reverend Dr Sam Mawhinney of Adelaide Road Presbyterian Church in Dublin.
Dr Mawhinney is the 178th person to hold the office since the establishment of PCI in 1840 and the first minister in nearly a quarter of a century to come from a congregation in the Republic of Ireland since Rev Dr Trevor Morrow of Lucan Presbyterian Church in County Dublin was elected in the year 2000. Dr Mawhinney is the 10th Moderator to come from a congregation in the city since 1845.
Open to the public, the Assembly will close on the afternoon of Saturday, 25 June. Proceedings can be watched via the livestream, or in the public gallery.
Day Three: Saturday’s business before the Assembly
The following reports will come before the General Assembly today:
- Judicial Commission*
- General Council (Section 4)**
- General Council (Section 6)
- Council for Training in Ministry
- General Council (Section 7)
- Lapsed business (if any)
- Final Report of the General Assembly Business Committee
*NB Business relating to this aspect of the work of the Judicial Commission is held in private session.
**NB The section of General Council Report, Section 4, relating to the Pandemic Response Task Group lapsed from yesterday and will be the first item of public business following the private session.
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 six General Assembly committees and seven task groups and two panels this year. Of all the Annual Reports before the General Assembly, the Report of the General Council is the longest, running to 207 pages out of the 406 in the Blue Book, which contains all the reports and resolutions before members.
To facilitate business during the week its report is divided into seven sections, with discussion and debate on its contents and resolutions taking place across the General Assembly’s 25 sessions. Sections 6 and 7 will be discussed today.
General Council Section 6:
- Support Services Committee
- United Appeal for Mission Committee
- Initial Pension Scheme Review Panel
- Holding Trustees Task Group
- Guysmere Panel
Section 6 of Report and Resolutions 22-29 can be found on pages 151-187 and 403-404.
General Council Section 7:
- Nominations Committee
- General Assembly Advisory Committee
- Church Relations Committee
- Ad Hoc Business Committee +
- Reports for information ++
Section 6 of Report and Resolutions 30-40 can be found on pages 188-214 and 404-406.
+NB This session also includes Memorials to be heard by the General Assembly from the Presbytery of South Belfast and the Presbytery of Monaghan.
++NB Reports for information are reports from organisations that are closely associated with, but not under the direct control of, the General Assembly - The Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland and the Presbyterian Children’s Society.
Council for Training in Ministry
The Council for Training in Ministry 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 local communities. Management of Union Theological College is also part of its responsibilities. The College is PCI’s principal body for the training of its ministers prior to ordination. It also offers a range of courses in ministry and undergraduate, or postgraduate academic degrees in divinity and theology. Most are accessible to all-comers, irrespective of faith, although students are typically Christian.
The Council’s Report and Resolutions can be found on pages 386-396 and 411-412.
Memorials are requests made to the Assembly, usually by a person or body who is not a member of the Assembly – a presbytery, a church member or group of members, or a group of people not connected with the Church. If you are not a member of the Assembly, you are able to bring a memorial. Procedures and forms are laid down to be used in bringing memorials
Memorials from the Presbytery of South Belfast and Presbytery of Monaghan and thier Resolutions can be found on pages 208-210 and 412-413.
Overtures are special resolutions which are used to change The Code, which is the constitution of the Church. Some overtures are printed in the Blue Book. If these are agreed by a two-thirds majority, they will be adopted immediately. Others which have not had such notice, will be adopted if no one votes against. If overtures do not achieve the preceding majorities, they are ‘placed on the books’ for one year, and decided on by the following Assembly.
In the Basic Code, where it’s desirable that the proposed changes come into operation immediately, the change can be adopted temporarily during the intervening year as an ‘Interim Act’. If an overture is submitted that would result in a significant constitutional change, it must also be sent to presbyteries to be voted on during the intervening year.
You can find all procedures in the Revised Guide to Assembly Procedures here.
NB Times in brackets may be anticpated times.
Private Session – JUDICIAL COMMISSION:
Report and Resolutions (pages 365-379 and 409-410)
Special Judicial Commission (pages 378 and 410); Commission on Applications (pages 379 and 410
Timings will therefore be pushed back as a result.
GENERAL COUNCIL: Section 4 of Report and Resolutions 16-18 (pages 73-102 and 403)
Pandemic Response Task Group
Report and Resolutions (pages 380-385 and 411)
GENERAL COUNCIL: Section 6 of Report and Resolutions 22-29 (pages 151-187 and 403-404)
Support Services Committee; United Appeal Committee; Initial Pension Scheme Review Panel; Holding Trustees Task Group; Guyesmere Panel
COUNCIL FOR TRAINING IN MINISTRY:
Report and Resolutions (pages 386-396 and 411-412)
GENERAL COUNCIL: Section 7 of Report and Resolutions 30-40 (pages 188-204 and 404-406)
Nominations Committee; General Assembly Advisory Committee; Church Relations Committee; Ad-Hoc Business (inc. Memorials (pages 412-413)); Reports for information (Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland and Presbyterian Children's Society)
Lapsed Business (if any)
Final Report of the General Assembly Business Committee
- CLOSE OF ASSEMBLY -