I did a few things to highlight that there are pro-life Presbyterians at this year’s General Assembly. During the very first plenary gathering I pulled the Board of Pensions final response regarding the referral of the last GA’s action regarding abortion coverage. Later I noted that there are people who take life issues very seriously and might want to register a dissent to the actions taken by the General Assembly and asked what the procedure was for this. And I moved an amendment that would have dramatically improved one of the actions the GA took. None of these were successful at bringing about change, but they did serve the purpose of highlighting life issues when this GA was shaping up to be all about Israel-Palestine and the definition of marriage.
An article about the last mentioned effort is available here.
One draft of my speech to the committee that got the referral I had pulled is below:
I saw the committee that dealt with this item at the last GA gave it serious consideration and they expected that the BOP would take it seriously too.
The text that passed was a compromise. The committee that suggested it did so because during the open hearings several people, myself included, talked about how our churches pay per capita and realized that because we are paying per capita we are paying plan dues for presbytery staff, synod staff, and GA staff who are plan members. Thus our concern was that relief of conscience (ROC) really is not ROC.
The committee wanted to give us true ROC. It passed overwhelmingly in committee and on the plenary floor by a hand vote. But for whatever reason the BOP decided not to do anything about it. Their response says the GA was somehow asking them to make sure that money ROC churches spend on communion supplies does not help fund abortions. They should be concerned about how this looks. It comes across as not taking the request seriously and it even could be interpreted as condescending to the the GA.
Let them know this is not an “adequate response.” It might be helpful for them if we clarify what we mean by “through any avenue” by adding a comment to address the issue of per capita and benevolences paying for BOP dues. The BOP has been responsive most of the time and I am sure that if you sent them a clear request then they will understand what is being asked and work to correct it. Thank you.