Lessons on Reading Proposals

I wish I could say my first night of digging into policy went well but there is a commandment about bearing false witness. 

So, here’s the truth:  My first night of reading policy for the 40th General Council scared me to death.  It caused me to write my panic blog last night re the amount of reading that I have to do.

Now, it may not have helped that I decided to start in the middle of the proposals…but these ones looked so…..what shall I say, innocent? After all, they were just wordsmithing –  how difficult could that be?


GS 1- Election of Lay Representatives to Presbytery:  I read it. I read it again. Why on earth were they stating the same stuff twice? I compared to other proposals.  It didn’t make sense.  I read the next one. I went back to the first one. Why on earth were they stating stuff twice…then I sat back and laughed out loud. Yup, it appears to be one big typo.

Lesson1: Sometimes it is important  to not think too deep.
Practical learning:  Use the PDF of The Manual to look at the original text, then compare


GS 2 – “Appointed”, “Chosen”, “Elected”, “Selected”. came next, and again, I could not decipher the text.  This one seems even more confusing. Though the proposal said they were clarifying the wordings of chosen/appointed to elected/selected, they had actually, moved to  “chosen requested”, “chosen elected”, “appoint elect” in the proposal.  This time it took me less time to move on.  Commented as, “please, let this be a typo”.

 Lesson2: Remember Lesson 1.
Practical learning:  Don’t spend too much time on something.  If it seems illogical, try to figure out who can tell you if it is illogical.


GS 3 “Appointed”, “Chosen”, “Elected”, “Selected”.  –  Same title – yes, but about different parts of the manual.  I had to make very few comments on this one….but still…I’m getting it …I think it confirmed that GS 2 had typo’s. I had broken through the barrier. I understand the format.  I knocked off proposal after proposal with minor comments.  Yeah!


 Then, I made my first deadly error.   I started to think about these sections of the manual that were new to me.


 Did you know that in a 5point Pastoral Charge, there would be a minimum entitlement of 5 Lay Reps and potentially only 1 Minister to the Presbytery.  Wow – that kind of skews the balance, doesn’t it? How does this play out in real life? I asked previous commissioners what they knew of this policy via a post in wondercafe.

Lesson3: These little bits and pieces in the manual explain a lot about the dynamics between rural and urban presbyteries.
Practical Learning:  Wondercafe can come through with people aka nerds responding with factual information.  I was advised the above discrepancy was the result of a policy adjustment  in 1980.


I pondered the implication to a minister in a 5 point charge if GS24 Sessions and Committees of Stewards in Multiple-Point Pastoral Charges passes. How many board meetings can one poor minister have to suffer through?  What happens if they conflict?  Or, are there situations, where sessions are such a distance that it would actually be better for them to be separate. Need to hear rural ministries input to this one in both areas such as S. Ontario and N&L.

 Lesson4: These little bits and pieces in the proposals have the potential to have significant impact to real people.
Practical Learning:  There is no where in the document where one can appeal to the proposal writer for their perceptions of ramifications.


Then, my second deadly error was made.  I thought deeper about  GS 1 Election of Lay Representation to Presbytery

The basic change is to switch the language from appointed by Pastoral Charges to elect by congregations. If elected by the congregation, then that seems to imply a congregational meeting is required.  Appointed gives the congregation leeway. Elected  — .what happens if someone needs to be replaced mid-year. In the past, that was the Board that would appoint, and AGM would confirm. Now, a congregational meeting would be required.  That can’t be the intent. My mind spun on other areas where elected was being put into the manual.   I had visions of the congregational saying “enough”.  I wondered why delegation of authority was not noted. My mind spun  thinking about having to call congregational meetings for meaningless stampings which should be done at the board.. 


At about this time was when I panicked last night as I thought of the 173 proposals and how few that I had gotten through and how many questions/items I had thought about…… and decided to ask on facebook if I should blog this experience  and then trialed my first blog. Classical  avoidance.


After doing that blog, and some deep breathing, I decided to read the Info workbook.



I laughed out loud when I read in  to read on Page 20 that I could tell the source of a proposal by the colour of the paper (yellow for GC, GS, conf, blue for proposal committee) .  The PDF’s all appear white.  LOL

Lesson6: The usage of a colour pages in a manual is problematic for those who took the download (me)



Not surprisingly, this is where I decided to call it the night. 


Possibly after finding  the most important information in the info pack on  Info – 23 . 


Lesson7:  Tim Hortons is located in the Library Building.


Thanks be to God.

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3 Responses to Lessons on Reading Proposals

  1. Gord says:

    But of course the location of TIm’s will likely be a key survival note.

    And remember, whatever the Manual says most congregations will do as they have always done. In fact many congregation board members likely couldn’t tell you what the Manual is….

    I however have a hardcopy and pdf version of said document and spent hours plumbing through it whilst drafting our congregational structure document and trying to ensure that our practice matched what was required (in some form anyway)

  2. pingadohtor says:

    Gord, if the tools become impractical , then even those who wish to follow will find themselves having to make choices.

    Isn’t the goal to make the manual clearer?

  3. Gord says:

    Ah but what is clear to one is unclear to another. From the quick read I had of those proposals last week I am not sure they are needed. ANd many or most congregations will simply continue to name/elect/shanghai Presbytery Reps in the same way they always have — despite what changes in wording may be made.

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