The Assembly Council is a servant of the church. In its role as both a coordinating body and a prophetic one, the Assembly Council is responsible for ensuring that the work of the church is carried out efficiently and effectively within the policies established by the General Assembly.
The council met at Crieff Hills Retreat & Conference Centre, from March 18–20, and was convened by the Rev. Bob Smith. He opened the meeting with an acknowledgement that the land the council was meeting on was first inhabited by First Nations people.
Consensus building and decision making
The Assembly Council used a consensus-building decision-making model throughout its meeting. There were still reports and recommendations to consider, but the normal “rules of debate” were replaced with more of a group conversation. As people spoke to the reports or the recommendations, members had the opportunity to show how they felt about the report, the particular recommendation and what each person was saying as the discussion proceeded. Coloured cards were used to indicate whether the member feels warm (orange) to an idea, or cool (blue) to an idea. A consensus was deemed to have been reached when everyone agrees, or most agree and the others accept that their views have been heard and do not object to the outcome.
Conflict of interest policy
A conflict of interest policy was adopted for use within the Assembly Council. It was agreed that the policy be shared with other agencies of the PCC.
Unity in the church
A day-long of workshop and discussion was held in February to address Petition Nos. 1 and 3, 2017, from the Presbyteries of Eastern and Western Han-Ca which ask for advice on remaining united during difficult conversations on human sexuality. The day focused on advancing the unity of the church by applying the biblical and historical principles of forbearance and committing to unity as a precondition to all decisions related to issues of human sexuality. Assembly Council agreed to ask the General Assembly to commit to unity in Christ during the discussions.
Human sexuality overtures
It was noted that there would be four bodies reporting on Human Sexuality at the 2018 General Assembly. The bodies are the Committee on Church Doctrine, the Life and Mission Agency, Assembly Council and Rainbow Communion. Assembly Council continues to monitor the overall conversation.
Overture No. 1, 2017, re. provision of adequate breaks at GA
Some changes are being made to the General Assembly to provide a balance of prayerful work, worship, breaks, fellowship and rest during the General Assembly. As part of this effort, a decision was made to extend the length of General Assembly by one day, starting in 2019.
Finance Committee report
In 2017, congregations, individuals, groups, foundations, estates, and the WMS and AMS, generously gave over $10.96 million to the PCC’s mission and ministry:
- $6,937,903 was given to Presbyterians Sharing to support mission and ministry in Canada and around the world
- $2,720,597 was given to Presbyterian World Service & Development for international development and relief programs
- $208,809 was given for special projects of the denomination (international, Canadian, justice ministries, history, archives, etc.)
- $536,062 was given in undesignated bequests to The Presbyterian Church in Canada and $558,692 for PWS&D’s Loaves and Fishes fund
In addition, $789,577 in gifts of securities was given to PCC congregations through The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
CY2018 will be held from July 2–7, 2018, at Brock University. The theme is “Stirred not Shaken.” In addition to the three tracks Canada Youth traditionally offers (Youth Track, Discipleship Track and Youth Ministry Training Track), a new track for congregational leaders will be included this year. Assembly Council agreed to re-designate some funds in order to support Canada Youth.
The Pension and Benefits Board continues to oversee the pension solvency situation and were very encouraged by the results of the March 31, 2017 Actuarial Valuation.
- The solvency ratio moved from 85.2% to 86.7% between March 31, 2014, and March 31, 2017. This is above the required funding ratio of 85% for triennial valuation.
- The solvency deficit increased from $37.5 million in 2014 to $40.9 million in 2017.
- The going concern position moved from a surplus of $1.9 million in 2014 to a surplus of $36.1 million in 2017.
Presbyterian Sharing and PCC logo updates
Karen Plater, General Secretary of Stewardship and Planned Giving, shared the new look for the Presbyterian Sharing logo. Inspired by key points from the strategic plan, the mission and vision of Presbyterian Sharing, and the early church’s use of the fish logo, a new logo was developed.
In addition, the look of the PCC burning bush has also been refreshed and will be coming soon.
Justice Ministries Associate Secretary role
Stephen Allen, Associate Secretary of Justice Ministries, will retire in June 2018. The council took time to express deep gratitude and appreciation for Stephen’s service to the PCC’s mission, particularly for his work in Healing and Reconciliation.