A variety of commissioners helped lead morning worship before and after the 8th Sederunt. They shared scripture, prayer and reflections on what it means to be stewards of the mysteries of God. Piano, cello and acoustic bass accompanied today’s reflective hymns. During the meditation, the Rev. Emily Bisset shared, “If we are to be trustworthy stewards of the mysteries of God, we must be people of prayer – people who seek to know God’s nature by listening to God’s voice.”
Bills and Overtures
Assembly referred an overture requesting the development of a bereavement leave policy to Ministry and Church Vocations. Another overture was referred to Canadian Ministries to research the causes of church decline, in consultation with Assembly Council.
Several overtures requesting a policy for congregations wishing to leave the denomination were deemed answered through Recommendation No. 2 under the Clerks of Assembly report.
Assembly referred an overture on ministry, eldership, and performing marriage of those in same gender relationships to the Church Doctrine Committee and Justice Ministries.
Life and Mission Agency
The Rev. Tim Archibald spoke about church planting and shared examples of new ways of reaching people. Having planted 400 new ministries, in their campaign to plant 1001 new churches, PCUSA colleagues have found that coaching and mentoring leaders of new church plants significantly increases the success rate of these ministries. Five Canadian Presbyterians, trained by the PCUSA network, are coaching church plant leaders in Canada. .
John Gilbert, the Clerk of the Presbytery of Grey Bruce Maitland, shared that more than half of their charges are vacant. The Presbytery developed a mandate to help renew congregations. In one region four churches have come together to establish a cooperative council that plans sustainable ministry and programs. This is not a cluster or multi-point charge, but a new and creative agreement to share resources and establish sustainable ministry. “The excitement and enthusiasm – the hope – is literally palpable,” Gilbert reports. This cooperative has successfully run for over a year, and now several other congregations in the region are talking to each other.
Assembly passed a motion from the floor asking the Moderator to write a letter to the Canadian government, urging them to work diligently for the release of The Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim, who is imprisoned in North Korea.
Assembly then celebrated those who have remembered the mission and ministry of The Presbyterian Church in Canada through their bequests in 2015. Thanks were given for the legacy of faith and hope they are providing through the PCC.
Assembly passed an amended motion that the Committee on Church Doctrine report to the 2017 General Assembly in response to a number of overtures relating to human sexuality. The committee was also instructed to consider Romans 14:1-13 and a possible two-prong approach in response to these overtures.
Assembly adopted a recommendation that any change in the church’s teaching on marriage should be sent through the Barrier Act.
Assembly commended the document “Understanding and Interpreting the Bible” and asked that congregations and presbyteries report back to the Committee on Church Doctrine with comments.
YARs and Student Representatives
The Young Adult Representatives expressed thanks for being welcomed and included, with special thanks to YAR advisors Jo Morris and the Rev. Dr. Blair Bertrand. They then offered prayers in a variety of languages. One YAR prayed, “As we leave each other today we pray for your guidance and for your love, and for your spirit to be with us as we implement the decisions we have made here together.”