59. CO-OPTIONS TO STANDING COMMITTEES (Peter Andrews and Mark Lawrence)

That the Assembly

authorise the Standing Committee, on advice from the Legal Reference Committee, to:

1. amend Clause 36 of the Constitution to read

The Synod shall appoint from among its members a Standing Committee which shall be empowered to act on behalf of the Synod between meetings of the Synod in respect of any of the responsibilities of the Synod except such as the Synod may determine. The Standing Committee may co-opt additional members of the Synod to act on the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee shall consist of no fewer lay members than ministerial members;

2. amend Clause 47 of the Constitution to read

Each Assembly shall appoint from among its members a Standing Committee which shall be empowered to act on behalf of the Assembly between meetings of the Assembly in respect of any of the responsibilities of the Assembly except such as the Assembly may determine. The Standing Committee may co-opt additional members of the Assembly to act on the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee shall consist of no fewer lay members than ministerial members;

3. amend Regulation 3.7.4.1 (a) to read

3.7.4.1 (a) The membership of the Synod Standing Committee shall consist of:
(i) the Moderator, the ex-Moderator, the Moderator Elect and the Secretary of the Synod as ex-officio members;
(ii) such other ex-officio members as the Synod may determine;
(iii) other members of the Synod elected by it to serve until the next
ordinary meeting of the Synod;
(iv) no more than two persons co-opted by the Standing Committee
Other than for co-opted persons, only Only members of the Synod are eligible for membership of the Standing Committee; and

4. amend Regulation 3.7.5.1 (g) to read

3.7.5.1 (g) Other than for co-opted persons, only Only members of the Assembly are eligible for membership of the Standing Committee.

Rationale:

The Constitution of the Church provides for the appointment of a Standing Committee for Synods and the Assembly vide Clauses 36 and 47.

Each Clause includes the requirement that only members of the Synod or the Assembly are eligible for appointment to the respective Standing Committee – irrespective of the basis of eligibility i.e. ex-officio, elected or co-opted.

It is understood that this requirement was farmed against the understanding and expectation that the role of the Standing Committee, in the interval between the „appointing‟ Synod or Assembly meeting and the next meeting of the Synod or Assembly would primarily be to “transact such business as may be referred to it” and to offer guidance and support to the Moderator/President in the exercise of their responsibilities. In order to faithfully carry out such responsibilities, it has been reasoned that it was essential that Standing Committee members had been a part of the Synod/Assembly meeting and so had participated in and heard and heeded the deliberations of the meeting.

The reality of this decade is that increasingly Standing Committees are required to reflect upon and react to matters that have emerged subsequent to the Synod/Assembly – such matters reflecting not just internal to the church issues but also matters that have their genesis in the secular/regulatory world meeting.

In order that Synods/Assembly can suitably attend to such matters it is critical that the membership of the Standing Committee encompasses an appropriate spectrum of gifts and graces; skills and experience to ensure that decisions reached and actions taken are appropriate and reflect the necessary rigour of analysis and discernment.

There is no compelling logic that suggests that this objective can be achieved solely by co-options from among the membership of the Synod/Assembly which may have been determined some time (even years) before the emergence of new matters that require the Standing Committees consideration.

As a means of addressing such circumstances it is proposed that the membership of the Standing Committee be varied to enable the co-option of members who were not members of the Synod/Assembly.

It should be noted that it is not proposed that those elected to the Standing Committee be other than members of the Synod. By this means there will be certainty that the majority of Standing Committee members will continue to be Synod/Assembly members.