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October 9, 2007: Changes Change Things (G-2.0102)

As we saw yesterday, the substitute constitution's proposed change from "elders" to "presbyters" could have a big impact on the denomination's understanding of ordination standards.

The move to "presbyters" is defined in the substitute constitution's G-2.0102 "Ordered Minstries" section. Here again, a comparison of language will highlight a major substantive change that would result:

Current:

T h e government of this church is representative, and the right of God’s people to elect their officers is inalienable. Therefore, no person can be placed in any permanent office in a congregation or governing body of the church except by election of that body.

Proposed:

The government of this church is representative, and the right of God's people to elect presbyters and deacons is inalienable. Therefore, no person can be placed in any ordered ministry in a congregation or council of the church except by election of that body.

This would have a profound impact on all the New Wineskins property cases. It would undo one of the first steps recommended by the Louisville Papers -- appointing an administrative commission to take original jurisdiction of the session.

In the current language of the Book of Order, presbyteries have the authority to appoint administrative commissions because they are not intended to fill permanent offices. Administrative commissions are, by their very commissioning, temporary and limited in scope and purpose. However, under the new proposed language, administrative commissions are impermissible because the congregation or council of the church would not have elected them -- not even temporarily. It is an absolute bar.

Tomorrow: Renunciation of Jurisdiction and Validated Ministries.