General Assembly

221st General Assembly Highlights

221st General Assembly
Theme: “Abound In Hope” (Rom. 15:13)GA Logo

The GA this year was composed of 654 voting commissioners and 219 advisory delegates of various categories (young adult, theological student, missionary, and ecumenical).

Congregational Resources about GA221 –
  1. We, in the Presbytery, Created a bulletin insert with more detail about the Assembly.
      1. Download it here. Free. Can be used by anyone.
        221st General Assembly Summary by Presbytery – English
  2. Presbytery purchased permission for our member congregations to use the bulletin insert summary created by the Presbyterian Outlook.
    Click on the one you want.

    1. 2014 GA Summary by Outlook (2-up) – English
    2. 2014 GA Summary by Outlook (large print) – English
    3. 2014 GA Inserción de anuncios en español by Outlook  (Spanish)
    4. 장로교 총회 공지가 한국어로 삽입  — Korean
      2014 GA Korean Language by Outlook
    5. NOTE: these inserts are purchase is for member congregations of Coastal Carolina Presbytery ONLY. If you want to use this insert in another setting, please purchase permission at this site

Exciting News to Celebrate:

  • North Carolina Ruling Elder Heath Rada was elected Moderator of the 221st General Assembly on the first ballot.
  • The overture that Coastal Carolina endorsed was approved. In it the Assembly “takes note of and endorses efforts by the organization known as ‘Friends of IMCK’ (FIMCK) to raise a permanent endowment for the Institut Médical Chrétien du Kasai (IMCK), or Kasai Christian Medical Institute.” (See Item 08-01)
  • The new translation of the Heidelberg Catechism was affirmed for inclusion in the Book of Confessions completing a multiyear process.
  • Modifications were made to the Peacemaking Offering to include “Global Witness” and it will be renamed the Peace and Global Witness Offering.
  • Encouraged each session to pray for the fulfillment of the 1001 New Worshipping Community movement by daily praying at 10:02 AM the scripture passage Luke 10:2 that asks God to send more workers into the harvest field. (“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”)
  • Celebration
    • Recommend each presbytery to view a new 1001 video at presbytery meetings and discuss, “How can we engage in ministry outside the walls of the church in our own context?”
    • The 248 New Worshiping Communities were celebrated with a goal of 1001 to be created.
  • In celebration of the 500th birthday of John Knox, who laid the foundation of Presbyterianism through fervent prayer and spiritual renewal, the 221st General Assembly (2014) has designated the month of October 2014 as the John Knox memorial month, aiming to position the church’s ministry and mission for another half millennium through rediscovering Presbyterian roots and future-driven revitalization. Encouraging congregations to celebrate intentionally the faithful witness of John Knox on Sunday, October 26, 2014 (Reformation Sunday).
  • Background checks are urged when hiring pastors but it was decided not to add it as a requirement of the call process in the Book of Order. (Coastal Carolina starting requiring these checks in January 2014)
  • The Assembly commends to the PCUSA congregations to advocate and urge that the United States Congress, other Federal, state, and/or local agencies, as appropriate, pass legislation and/or regulations governing the use of domestic drones so that Constitutional rights are upheld. (Item 11-10ABCD)
  • Per capita rate was set at $7.07 for 2015 and $7.12 for 2016, a five cent increase from current.

Hot Topics

  • Synods – The Assembly has mandated the reduction of Synods from the current 16 to “between 10 and 12” over the next two years. Synods and Presbyteries are to work together to complete this reduction.
  • Marriage – The Assembly approved an “AI” (Authoritative Interpretation) of our Book of Order that makes it permissible for pastors to officiate at same-gender marriages where it is legally recognized but does not require them to do so. The full language of the AI and what it means is in the attached FAQ [Frequently Asked Questions] on this subject. See also the item below requiring the vote of the Presbyteries to become effective.
  • Israel-Palestine – It was reported to the assembly that the MRTI (Mission Responsibility Through Investment) has found three American corporations―Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola Solutions―not in compliance with General Assembly policy on socially responsible investing. MRTI is a General Assembly committee that implements General Assembly policies on socially responsible investing. MRTI has repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, reached out to these corporations and asked for resolution, but no resolution has been forthcoming. As a last resort, the General Assembly recommended divestment.
    • Following extensive debate, amendments, and presentations, the assembly said, in part, “The PC(USA) has a long standing commitment to peace in Israel and Palestine. We recognize the complexity of the issues, the decades-long struggle, the pain suffered and inflicted by policies and practices of both the Israeli government and Palestinian entities. We further acknowledge and confess our own complicity in both the historic and current suffering of Israeli and Palestinian yearning for justice and reconciliation, the 221st General Assembly (2014) recommends the following:….”  [see the rest in the attached FAQ]
    • Also, if you are interested in the positive investment Presbyterians are making in the Middle East that did not draw media attention please watch this video:
    • Please see the attached FAQ [Frequently Asked Questions].

Items Pending Approval by the Presbyteries

  • The Belhar Confession will again be sent to the presbyteries for consideration. To be added to the Book of Confessions, 2/3rds of the presbyteries must vote favorably. There will be study aids available for presbyteries and congregations.
  • A proposal to add language to the Book of Order stating that Whenever a former teaching elder has renounced jurisdiction in the midst of a disciplinary proceeding as the accused, that former teaching elder shall not be permitted to perform any work, paid or volunteer, in any congregation or entity under the jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).”
  • A Proposal to Replace W-4.9000 with new language that in part reads “Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. The sacrificial love that unites the couple sustains them as faithful and responsible members of the church and the wider community. [text omitted]….If they meet the requirements of the civil jurisdiction in which they intend to marry, a couple may request that a service of Christian marriage be conducted by a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), who is authorized, though not required, to act as an agent of the civil jurisdiction in recording the marriage contract. A couple requesting a service of Christian marriage shall receive instruction from the teaching elder, who may agree to the couple’s request only if, in the judgment of the teaching elder, the couple demonstrate sufficient understanding of the nature of the marriage covenant and commitment to living their lives together according to its values. In making this decision, the teaching elder may seek the counsel of the session, which has authority to permit or deny the use of church property for a marriage service.”[Additional text omitted for brevity here…. The proposed text then ends with this….]“Nothing herein shall compel a teaching elder to perform nor compel a session to authorize the use of church property for a marriage service that the teaching elder or the session believes is contrary to the teaching elder’s or the session’s discernment of the Holy Spirit and their understanding of the Word of God.”  

(The entire proposed text can be found in the linked FAQ on marriage. A simple majority of presbyteries must vote favorably to make this change.)

Attachments are at these links:
  1. FAQ on Marriage Items with Pastoral Letter
  2. FAQ on Marriage in Spanish (en Español)
  3. FAQ on Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and HP (Divestment)
  4. Positive investment Presbyterians are making:

Open the
221st General Assembly Summary Bulletin Insert

(composed locally for congregational use)

For More information on these and other items:
  1. If you want to read assembly actions yourself Pc-Bizyou can go to where you can see final actions, vote counts both in committee and on the Assembly floor.
  2. The official GA Summary Bulletin insert is online (free) at
  3.  The videos from the Assembly meetings are online at
  4. Also see for news reports of assembly actions.
  5. News Reports also at (they also create a bulletin Insert for use by congregations found here.)
  6. For more personal notes from around the country, look On Facebook for “Spirit of GA” or “Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)”  Also on Twitter Search #GA221 and #PCUSA.

Spirit of GA Facebook Pg

Overview Information – Some of how GA works:

From our Presbytery we send 4 Teaching Elder Commissioners and 4 Ruling Elder Commissioners and one Youth Advisory Delegate (YAD). These folks come all over the presbytery. They were elected at a presbytery meeting many months ago. They were commissioned at the Presbytery meeting, June 12, in Sanford. They are commissioners, not delegates, so they are charged with voting their conscience after studying the issue, which they did before they left for Detroit, listening to debate, prayer, discernment and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Voting Device
Voting Clicker

Each of these commissioners served on a committee at the Assembly, each on a different committee. Each committee had anywhere from 60 to 80 people on it; 14 committees in all. Prior to the assembly commissioners were asked to read hundreds of pages of background information, overtures, procedures, standing rules and Book of Order passages.

During committee time, commissioners and advisory Committee Workdelegates heard presentations pro and con on each item. They were given extensive background information about recommendations and options. Each committee amended motions, perfected substitution motions, disapproved items, approved items, answered overtures with actions taken on other items. The committee time is hard work by faithful, prayerful people from all over the county.

After the Committees work, all of their recommendations are presented the full assembly who can agree, disagree, modify any item coming from committees. One session of the Assembly ended at 11:59PM, another at 10:45PM. Indications that the commissioners take this work very seriously.

Despite disagreement and well-spoken point-counter-point debate the assembly was respectful of one another. Hundreds of observers in attendance were watching it all happen, as were people on live streaming video.

The media has put a spin on several actions taken at the assembly that do not reflect the spirit, intent or content of what was passed. Please read the actual wording of items to deepen your reflection on things presented in the media.

If you have further questions, please contact your pastor, the Presbytery office, or one of the commissioners, we will do our best to listen to you and discuss items of interest to you. Commissioners may be willing to come speak to you about their experiences at GA.

The Coastal Carolina commissioners will give a formal report at the Presbytery meeting on Saturday,  October 11, hosted by the Galatia Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville.

P.S. This report is not exhaustive.

Thanks for being part of body of Christ in the PCUSA.


The Commissioners from Coastal Carolina to the 221st General Assembly


Rev. Laura Lupton,
Mission Coordinator-West Community and
Staff Support for our GA Commissioners

Rev. Bill Reinhold
General Presbyter & Stated Clerk,