home

Nary An Unpublished Thought

sermons

archives

 

biography

 

 

September 21, 2007: A New Version of the Revision

If you have been following along, you will know that I have been reviewing the changes proposed to the Form of Government (the G- sections of the Book of Order). I started this review after receiving a letter from the Task Force inviting sessions to study the proposal. I downloaded it from the site and began the process of review.

Now, I may be the only one for whom this is an issue, but after a phone call with a member of the Task Force, I have been informed that the on-line version I have been reviewing has been updated. The version I had was from March, the most recent (at least the one posted now) is from August. The change on-line was made mid-week. I apparently responded to their request too quickly.

Some changes have been made. In fact, using the illustration from yesterday, the language has changed again -- making more substantive changes, not less.

Let's stack them up:

The August 2007, Draft

The congregation shall hold an annual meeting and may hold special meetings as necessary. At least annually, the congregation shall review the adequacy of the compensation of the pastor or pastors and shall elect ruling elders, deacons, and trustees.

The March, 2007, draft

The congregation shall hold an annual meeting and may hold other special meetings as necessary. The annual meeting shall review the adequacy of the compensation of the pastor or pastors and shall elect officers, and it may transact other business as appropriate.

G-7.0302:

The congregation shall hold an annual meeting and may hold other meetings as necessary. The annual meeting may consider such business as electing officers, hearing reports of the session along with plans for the coming year, hearing reports from the board of deacons and other organizations of the church, and transacting other business as is appropriate. It shall review the adequacy of the compensation of the pastor or pastors upon report of the prior review by the session.

Do you see how innocuous changes make a big difference? In trying to bring clarity, more confusion is created.

For the congregation I serve, this would mean that in addition to requiring that the election of officers takes place at the annual meeting (when our congregation had held the elections during a special meeting in the Fall), we also would now be required to elect trustees -- a position that has never existed within our congregation. The language now requires ("shall") the election of "elders, deacons, and trustees."

The role of trustees is defined in G-7 as follows: "Any particular church which is not incorporated may select trustees from the members on the active roll of the church. The power and duties of such trustees shall not infringe upon the powers and duties of the session or of the board of deacons."

We are incorporated. We elect corporate officers. If the new rules are approved, we would be required:

  1. to elect people to a previously-permissible-but-not-required position that is
  2. irrelevant to our incorporated situation -- thus, redundant-at-best, conflicting-at-worst; and
  3. do so at a different time of year for no substantive reason.

Again, this is not a particularly earth-shattering kind of issue, but it is a perfect illustration of the problems created when making whole-sale changes.

UPDATE:

I received an e-mail pointing out how I had mis-read the most recent edit; in fact, the newest version no longer specifies when the elections take place but does add the requirement for the offices.

It does go to show how technical the reading has to be. It must be frustrating to the committee -- because it is to me -- to try to keep track of all of the changes.

Monday: A Word About the Study Materials