1.1 Meetings in preparation for the 14th Assembly began in February 2014. Initial planning was undertaken by an Assembly Design Team and subsequently the Business Committee has finalised the program.
1.2 The members of the Business Committee are: Stuart McMillan, Terence Corkin, Glenda Blakefield, Geoffrey Grinton, Rosemary Hudson Miller, Alison Atkinson – Phillips, Michelle Cook, Deidre Palmer , Chris Budden, Dennis Corowa and Haloti Kailahi.
1.3 The Assembly is more than a business meeting. Therefore there are elements of celebration, thanksgiving, community life, Bible Study and prayer. The Business Committee emphasises that these are not optional components for Assembly members. All of these are valuable in their own right and together they are gathered together into the rhythm of the whole week so that the reports, deliberations and decision making are shaped by them. Through these processes of building community and fellowship around word and sacrament we believe that as a community we are best placed to discern Christ’s will for his church.
2.1 The role of the Business Committee is to:
- serve the Assembly in ensuring that all business will be considered in a clear and timely manner
- ensure that members are enabled to participate fully in the Assembly’s decision making through the provision of all necessary information
- recommend the agenda and timetable of the Assembly
- generally assist the Assembly to deal with its business
2.2 The Assembly is in charge of its own business and recommendations from this Business Committee are open to debate, amendment or rejection by the Assembly, as are any other proposals that come before this Council.
3.1 In developing the Assembly program particular consideration has been given to how the Assembly can give adequate space in its agenda for worship, Bible study, community building, discernment processes, and of course decisions. An important feature of the Assembly will be the service on Monday morning where we come together to commit ourselves to be a community under the Lordship of Christ for the meeting of the Assembly.
3.2 The Community Working Groups will once again be a significant focus for the life of the Assembly. In response to feedback from the last Assembly they will meet on three occasions at this Assembly, once for community building and orientation to the business and twice to assist the Assembly in exercising its discernment.
3.3 There are a number of major areas of business that have arisen from the life of the Standing Committee over the last triennium. They include the report on the marriage discussion and related proposals, Eldership, a proposal to adopt a basis for ecumenical co-operation with the Anglican Church of Australia, a major report on the UCA response to, and engagement with, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; and a number of proposals to amend the regulations.
3.4 In addition there are a number of significant proposals from Assembly Agencies as well as synods and presbyteries on a range of issues.
3.5 On this occasion the Assembly will not meet on Friday evening. Within the life of Congress and the Presbytery of Western Australia there is the very special occasion of being in a position to ordain two Congress members. The WA Congress and Congress members generally, have been very hopeful to share this important event with as many members of Congress from across the country as might be possible. The Business Committee considered how this may be possible and recognised that the free evening on Wednesday would not work for a number of reasons. As an expression of support and respect for this important event in the life of Congress and the Presbytery the Business Committee has decided not to hold any Assembly business on Friday night. The Presbytery of WA will convene for the ordinations in Winthrop Hall (the Assembly venue) at that time. Members of the Assembly are invited and encouraged to participate in this special evening.
4. BUSINESS PROCEDURES
4.1 All business sessions of the Assembly will be conducted in accordance with A Manual for Meetings in the Uniting Church. A copy of the Manual is in section I of the 14th Assembly’s working papers.
4.2 The Fourteenth Assembly will again feature Community Working Groups. All voting members, and persons associated with the Assembly for the whole meeting, will be allocated to a Community Working Group. The exception is Congress members who have asked to meet together during those times. Community Working Groups are not an optional extra – they are an essential part of our discernment process. It is expected that people will participate in them. You will receive advice on which group you are in, and where it meets when you arrive at the Assembly meeting. The agenda shows the times allocated to Community Working Groups.
4.3 Members will receive their papers in a number of mailings. In addition all reports and proposals are on the 14th Assembly web site for those members who wish to access materials electronically and for the information of members of the church.
4.4 Media coverage at the Assembly has, on occasions, not been helpful to the working of the Council. Care will be taken to monitor the way the media operates and if required the General Secretary, on the advice of the Business Committee, shall determine whether any sessions shall be closed to media. Where necessary the Business Committee will bring proposals in respect of how the media should be involved in sessions that deal with contentious matters.
5. BUSINESS PROCEDURES AND CONGRESS
Over a long period of time the UAICC has indicated that there are difficulties for Congress in participating in our style of meeting. At the 11th and 12th Assemblies a new process, consistent with the principles of the Manual for Meetings, was developed to address the particular concerns raised by Congress. These procedures were seen to be very well received and to be helpful to the Congress and the Assembly. The 12th Assembly agreed to them being used from the 12th Assembly without need to bring a particular proposal to the opening session of each Assembly (Assembly minute 09.03.07). The words of the resolution are provided at the end of this document.
6. CLOSING DATES AND TIMES
Proposals to the Assembly were invited from presbyteries, synods and Assembly agencies with a closing date of April 12 2015 for matters relating to the Constitution and Regulations; and 12 June 2015 for other matters.
Unless the Assembly decides otherwise only amendments coming from Councils of the Church or arising from debates will be received after these dates.
Proposals should be addressed to the General Secretary and may be delivered by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to PO Box A2266, Sydney South NSW 1235.
6.2.1 President Elect Nominations for this position have closed and information about the four nominees appear in the Assembly documents.
6.2.2 Other positions See report D1, Ballots and Nominating Procedures, for full details. Assembly members may submit nominations until 6.00pm on Tuesday 14 July (close of Session 11).
7. PROCESSING OF PROPOSALS
Following is advice to persons who want to submit proposals for the consideration of the Assembly. By following this advice members of the Assembly will greatly assist their cause and the efficient working of the Assembly business processes.
When proposals are received by the General Secretary, or the Manager of Assembly Business (Mr Geoffrey Grinton), they are reviewed to ensure that they are in a form that the Assembly can consider and that they address a matter that it is appropriate for the Assembly to make a decision upon (the technical word is that the proposal is “competent”). If either of these things is found to be lacking then conversations are held with the proposer in order to rectify these deficiencies.
It is not uncommon for a number of proposals to be brought that address the same issue. This is quite common when there are amendments being proposed to an original proposal, or that pick up a matter that is of lively interest to the Assembly. When there is similarity among proposals then the Business Manager will encourage and facilitate a meeting of persons bringing similar proposals, which might lead to a different and possibly joint set of words being developed. Sometimes this will result in one set of words appearing in a proposal that is produced in the Assembly papers and then quite a different set of words being presented later.
The mobile phone number for persons bringing proposals is required. It is only for the use of the Business Manager and will not be published.
8. GUIDELINES FOR PROPOSALS
8.1 Proposals should refer to policy matters, be precise and be unambiguous.
8.2 Proposals should begin “That the Assembly…”
8.3 Proposals seeking amendment to the Regulations should begin, “That the Assembly request the Standing Committee, on the advice of the Legal Reference Committee, to amend Regulation…. to the effect that / to read…..”
8.4 Proposals must be submitted in writing (one copy is sufficient) and signed by two members of the Assembly or by the appropriate officer of the presbytery or synod.
8.5 Proposals should be accompanied by a written rationale of no more than 250 words which will be circulated to all members of the Assembly with the proposal.
8.6 The General Secretary and the Manager of Assembly Business are available to Assembly members who may need advice on business procedures or who may wish to raise a concern or make a suggestion.
9. VISITORS PROGRAM
There will be no formal visitors program at this Assembly. However sessional and day visitors are welcome. Registration will be required on the day, and a small charge for costs will be payable. Contact the Inquiry Desk on arrival.
10. ASSEMBLY GUESTS
10.1 Australian Churches – member churches of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) and the NCCA itself have been invited to send persons to the whole meeting of the Assembly where they will be associated as members of the Assembly. This is in order that the Assembly can be ecumenically informed by the perspective of other Australian churches as it undertakes its responsibilities. Other churches and NCCA member churches have been invited to attend the Opening Service and Installation of the President.
10.2 Overseas Guests – Approximately 40 overseas churches and ecumenical bodies will be sending representatives to the Thirteenth Assembly. It is hoped that overseas visitors will share with us in the life of the Assembly in a variety of ways as we address the many issues before us.
10.3 Other Faiths – representatives of other faith communities have been invited to participate at certain times.
10.4 Bible Study – will be facilitated by Dr Rosemary Dewerse with leadership of sessions being provided by Ms Denise Champion and Rev Dr Emanuel Audisho.
10.5 Cato Lecture – will be delivered by Dr LIN Manhong who is the Associate General Secretary of the China Christian Council and the acting Dean of Nanjing Union Theological Seminary. This lecture will be a public lecture at 7.30pm on Thursday 16 July. This opportunity is available to the Assembly through the generous assistance of the Cato Trustees.
11. BUSINESS PROCEDURES AND CONGRESS
09.03.07 The Assembly resolved
Business Procedures Involving Congress
to amend its standing orders to the extent necessary to enable the following process in respect of the UAICC:
- allowing a representative of Congress to present the UAICC perspective on a proposal immediately after any movers and seconders, provided that they have indicated this intention ahead of time to either the General Secretary or the Business Manager;
- there will be no specific time limit applied to the Congress speaker(s) in this situation;
- in the deliberative phase Congress members will not be expected to show cards or to join a queue at the microphones to explain why they are not able to support a proposal. The President will not interpret this lack of showing cards as support for, or opposition to, any proposal;
- Congress shall be provided with a briefing from the Facilitation Group upon request to the General Secretary;
- Congress members will not be allocated to the Community Working Groups;
- Congress, as a group, may request the President that a discussion cease for a time and opportunity will be provided for Congress members to meet together in order to discuss their position. Such business will return to the agenda at the discretion of the President and Congress will have the opportunity to speak at that time.
Rev Terence Corkin