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Form of Government Task Force. Presbytery of Eastern Oklahoma Claremore, OK 2 March 2010. FOG Task Force Web Site Translations. Translations into Spanish and Korean have recently been completed They are now online. Goal of our Proposal.

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Form of government task force

Form of GovernmentTask Force

Presbytery of Eastern Oklahoma

Claremore, OK

2 March 2010

Fog task force web site www pcusa org formofgovernment
FOG Task Force Web


Translations into Spanish and Korean have recently been completed

They are now online

Goal of our proposal
Goal of our Proposal

  • Maximize flexibility to meet the changing needs of particular contexts, while maintaining standards that are appropriate to the practice of the whole church

Maintaining standards
Maintaining Standards

  • Mission and ministry “between the hedges”

  • Broad principles of governance specified

  • Specifics left to discretion of a particular council

Changing needs
Changing Needs

Current FOG: one size fits all polity

Based on an organizational model now close to 30 years old

Many requirements cannot be met by many sessions / presbyteries

Maximize flexibility
Maximize Flexibility

A more flexibility, less regulatory polity

Eliminated as much “process-oriented” language as possible – example: lists

More adaptable to today’s differing contexts for ministry

Maintain the standards w/out mandating the structure or procedures to be employed

Polity is
Polity is…

The Architecture of Mission

Polity is not the work of the church; it is the blueprint for the church engaged in the mission of God

Relational, not regulatory

Not built on rules, but calls us into relationships

Covenantal, more than connectional

Bound together in partnerships in mission, built on accountability to each other

Theological basis
Theological basis

“Foundations of Presbyterian Polity” - a new section intended to convey the ecclesiological and historical commitments of our polity

F-1.01 God’s Mission

The good news of the gospel is that the triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - creates, redeems, sustains, rules, and transforms all things and all people. …

F-3.01 Historic Principles of Church Order

In setting forth this Book of Order, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) reaffirms the historic principles of church order which have been part of our common heritage…

Theological basis1
Theological Basis

Usually, the first paragraph of each chapter presents the ecclesiological foundation for what follows

G-1.0101 – The Mission of the Congregation

The congregation is the church engaged in the mission of God in its particular context. The triune God gives to the congregation all the gifts of the gospel necessary to being the Church. The congregation is the basic form of the church …

Important terminology changes
Important Terminology Changes

  • Ordered Ministry – instead of “office” or “officer” (specific functions w/in total context of ministry of the whole church)

  • Teaching Elder (instead of MWS) and Ruling Elder

    • Lifts up parity of ordination (avoidance of clericalism)

    • Emphasizes role of session as leaders, discerners of the Spirit (Ruling = measuring)

    • Elevates importance of teaching the faith / equipping people for their ministry

  • Councils instead of governing bodies – latter an unintentional synonym for “board of directors”?

  • Structure of new fog
    Structure of New FOG

    • Foundations: 3 chapters – reorders current FOG chapters 1-4, w/in a missional framework

    • The ecclesiological and historical commitments on which our polity rests

      • Chapter 1: mission of the church – God’s sending in Christ; marks, notes, great ends

      • Chapter 2: the status of confessions as part of the church’s constitutional life

      • Chapter 3: historical and governmental principles

    Foundations what s new
    Foundations: What’s New

    Focus on the mission of God in the world - F-1.01

    New four-part theological statement on the calling of the Church - F-1.03

    Emphasis on “Marks” and “Notes” of the Church - F-1.0302, 1.0303

    Stronger statement on Unity in Diversity - F-1.0403

    Foundations what s not new
    Foundations: What’s Not New

    Jesus Christ as Head of the Church – F-1.02

    The “Great Ends of the Church” – F-1.0304

    The Church and Its Confessions – F-2.00

    Historic Principles of Order and Government – F-3.01 and 3.02

    Form of government
    Form of Government

    • From 14 chapters to 6:

      • Chapter 1: Congregations and membership (current G-5 and G-7)

      • Chapter 2: Ordered Ministries / Other Ministries (current G-6 and G-14)

      • Chapter 3: Councils (current G-9, 10, 11, 12, 13)

      • Chapter 4: Property / Trustees / Confidentiality (current G-6, 7, 8)

      • Chapter 5: Ecumenical Relationships and Union (current G-15, 16, 17)

      • Chapter 6: Interpreting/Amending the Constitution (current G-18)

    Chapter 1 congregations and membership
    Chapter 1: Congregationsand Membership

    • The congregation: basic form of the church; where mission take place (G-1.0101)

    • Congregations: not sufficient on their own; are bound to each other in relationships of accountability (G-1.0101)

    • Membership is a covenant between individuals, the faith community, and God (G-1.0301)

    • Familiar areas covered:

      • Organizing Covenant (G-1.0201)

      • Membership Responsibilities (G-1.0304)

      • Membership categories (G-1.04 - but no formal category for “inactive”)

      • Congregational meetings (G-1.05)

    Chapter 2 ordered ministry
    Chapter 2: Ordered Ministry

    • All members are called to share in the ministry of Jesus Christ

    • Some are called to particular ministries established (“ordered”) by the Church “so that the ministry of the whole people of God may flourish” (G-2.0102)

    • Three ordered ministries / descriptive titles

      • Deacons: The Ministry of Compassion and Service (G-2.02)

      • Ruling Elders: The Ministry of Discernment and Governance (G-2.03)

      • Teaching Elders: The Ministry of the Word and Sacrament (G-2.05)

    Chapter 2 things to note
    Chapter 2: Things to Note

    Validated ministry: no specific requirement to preach, celebrate sacraments annually (G-2.0503a)

    Associate / interim succession (G-2.0504a,b,c)

    CPM ‘stuff’: same basics (inquiry, candidacy, final assessment), w/out prescribe process pieces

    New terminology: Commissioned Ruling Elder – for Limited Pastoral Service (G-2.10)

    Certified Church Service: treating all certified persons equally, not Certified Christian educators and others (G-2.11)

    Chapter 3 councils
    Chapter 3: Councils

    • Council: consistent with the historic name for the gathering of church leadership to arrive at decisions

    • Work of each council ordered around the Notes of the Reformed Church – F-1.0303; repeated in G-3.0101)

      • Provides a context for the work of each council rooted in our core definition of what the church is called to do

      • Reminds us that preaching the Word, administering the Sacraments, and making disciples are not the work of the pastor, but belong to the whole church at every level

      • The rubrics force us to ask of any new responsibility under consideration, “How does this help us be the church?”

    Chapter 3 functions not structures
    Chapter 3: Functions,not Structures

    • Chapter mandates core functions, but not structures

    • “Mechanisms and processes” left to the discretion of the council (G-3.0307)

    • Some notable examples:

      • COM, CPM, COR: essential work remains responsibility of councils to accomplish

      • How they do these things left to councils to do as best suits their contexts

      • Many are likely to keep the current structures as exist

      • Some councils may try different means of accomplishing this work, which may benefit all thru their example/experience

    Chapters 4 5 and 6
    Chapters 4, 5, and 6

    Chapter 4: ‘interface’ between the church and civil authority: incorporation, trustees, property, confidentiality issues

    Chapter 5: current statements about ecumenical commitment, plus descriptions of “in correspondence” and “full communion.”

    Chapter 6: Interpreting / amending the constitution

    Two-thirds votes to amend? – an issue that has been dealt with previously, and should be a separate matter from our work

    The Road Ahead …

    • Final version released:

    • 1 Sept 2009

    • 219th General Assembly (2010) – Minneapolis

      • Committee review and recommendation

      • Plenary action

  • Presbytery votes, if approved

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