GA23: Day Two Preview – Friday 23 June 2023
Friday marks the second full 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, will meet in General Assembly for worship, prayer, celebration, debate and discussion. It will close on the afternoon of Saturday, 24 June.
Business starts at 10am and continues into this evening, concluding at around 9pm.
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 Two: Friday’s business before the Assembly
The following reports will come before the General Assembly today:
- General Council (Section 3)
- General Council (Section 4)*
- Council for Congregational Life & Witness**
- Council for Global Mission*
- Linkage Commission*
- Judicial Commission
- Council for Mission in Ireland
- General Council (Section 5)
*NB The section of General Council Report, Section 4, relating to the Pandemic Response Task Group lapsed and will be taken after 10am tomorrow, Saturday.
**NB This year, following the decision of the General Assembly to rotate the presentation of council and commission reports each year, while the reports of these councils and commission appear as full reports, along with their resolutions, in the Blue Book, they won’t be presented verbally. Presentations will, however be made by these councils and the Linkage Commission at the 2024 General Assembly.
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 3, 4 and 5 will be discussed today.
General Council Section 3:
- Membership and People with Intellectual Disabilities Task Group
Section 3 of Report and Resolutions 13-15 can be found on pages 55-60 and 402-403.
General Council Section 4:
- Communications Strategy Task Group
- Pandemic Response Task Group
Section 4 of Report and Resolutions 16-18 can be found on pages 61-102 and 403.
General Council Section 5:
- Reconfiguration of Ministry Task Group
Section 5 of Report and Resolutions 19-21 can be found on pages 103-150 and 403.
Council for Congregational Life & Witness
The Council for Congregational Life & Witness seeks to support the on-going life, mission and witness of congregations in their work with all age-groups. This assistance can take various forms such as casting vision, assisting in development, offering training, providing and signposting models of good practice and resourcing. Areas included are worship, discipleship, nurture and teaching; pastoral care; evangelism and outreach in the community, including social outreach; co-operative working with others; involvement in global mission; leadership, including elder training.
It holds specific responsibility for ensuring the strategic development within the Presbyterian Church in Ireland of youth and children’s ministry; Presbyterian Women and ministry among women generally; young adults’ ministry, marriage and counselling service.
This Council also has the responsibility for encouraging and resourcing congregations to witness in their communities where they are placed. Part of this includes building supportive links with local schools; supporting Christians in the workplace; being proactive in the work of good relations.
Council’s Report and Resolutions can be found on pages 259-282 and 407.
Council for Global Mission
The Council for Global Mission oversees the work of the Church on behalf of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
The Council supports the mission and service of PCI offered by congregations. Its remit includes sending personnel and developing mission overseas, developing partnerships with churches, Christian institutions, international mission agencies and other agencies.
The Council’s Report and Resolutions can be found on pages 283-306 and 408.
The Linkage Commission acts on behalf of the General Assembly in allocating ordained ministry and related financial resources to congregations. Membership is drawn from PCI’s 19 regional presbyteries from across Ireland, together with representatives of allied General Assembly councils and committees.
The Commission’s Report and Resolutions can be found on pages 307-324 and 408.
The Judicial Commission is appointed by the powers of the General Assembly to hear and to decide finally cases of appeal against the lower courts of the Church, these are Kirk Sessions and Presbyteries), or cases which have been referred to it.
Each congregation has a Kirk Session which is made up of the Teaching Elder (who is the minister) and the congregation’s elders. Each presbytery is responsible for overseeing those congregations in its local area and is made up of ministers and elders from those congregations within its bounds. It undertakes other important tasks, which include the ordination, installation of ministers the ordination of elders, their discipline, and the annual selection of the Moderator, and
The Commission is further charged with general oversight of any proposed changes in the Church's laws and rules, or with other constitutional matters which may be referred to it. It is the latter responsibility with regards to The Code and its republishing, which will be discussed on Friday afternoon.
Commission’s Report and Resolutions can be found on pages 365-379 and 409-410.
Council for Mission in Ireland
The focus of the Council for Mission in Ireland is to develop PCI’s strategic priorities in all-age mission across Ireland and to plan major church-wide initiatives at a General Assembly level.
It considers new church development looking at locations which might be suitable for church planting and oversees all aspects of the work of the Home and Irish Mission, including the Irish Mission Fund and the deployment and on-going support of deaconesses who serve in congregations, chaplaincies and communities.
The Council also oversees the delivery of a chaplaincy service in the forces, hospitals, hospices and prisons helping to bring a ministry of presence to those in need. Supporting mission and ministry in universities and colleges through chaplaincy services on campus is also part of this Council’s work.
The Council’s Report and Resolutions can be found on pages 325-364 and 410-411.
The General Assembly’s Communion Service will take place at 11.45am. It will also include the Memorial Roll of those ministers who have passed away since the last General Assembly.
Listening to the Global Church
As in previous years, the 2023 General Assembly will have what has become one of the highlights of the annual meeting, the informal presentation ‘Listening to the Global Church’. Organised by PCI’s Council for Global Mission, it will involve some of the overseas guests who will be attending the General Assembly. This year – the eighth since the presentations began - the theme is taken from Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer…” and is called ‘Joyful…patient…faithful’. It will take place at 2.45pm.
NB Times in brackets may be anticpated times.
GENERAL COUNCIL: Section 3 of Report and Resolutions 13-15 (pages 55-60 and 402-403)
Membership and People with Intellectual Disabilities Task Group
GENERAL COUNCIL: Section 4 of Report and Resolutions 16-18 (pages 61-102 and 403)
Communications Strategy Task Group; Pandemic Response Task Group
Assembly Communion Service
- including the Memorial Roll.
COUNCILS/COMMISSIONS NOT PRESENTING VERBALLY:
Council for Congregational Life & Witness (pages 259-282 and 407); Council for Global Mission (pages 283-306 and 408); Linkage Commission (pages 307-324 and 48)
Listening to the Global Church:
Report and Resolutions (pages 365-379 and 409-410)
Code Republishing Task Group
COUNCIL FOR MISSION IN IRELAND:
Report and Resolutions (pages 325-364 and 410-411)
GENERAL COUNCIL: Section 5 of Report and Resolutions 19-21 (pages 103-150 and 403)
Reconfiguration of Ministry Task Group
Close of Business