In his sermon during opening worship, outgoing Moderator Rev. Dr. Stephen Farris spoke on Hebrews 2:5-13. He urged the gathered commissioners and guests to allow Jesus to be visible in the discussions and debates to come.
Farris's final act as Moderator of the 140th General Assembly was to install Rev. Karen Horst as Moderator of the 141st General Assembly.
Assembly Council, the group which carries on the work of the General Assembly throughout the year, presented a plan to revise its membership and terms of reference to shrink the number of members on the council and change how members are appointed.
Sessions, presbyteries and synods will be asked to consider and comment back to the Assembly Council on its proposal by Jan. 31, 2016.
Other recommendations included translating Leading With Care, the church's policy on preventing and responding to allegations of sexual abuse and harassment, into French and reducing the number of Women's Missionary Society representatives on the Life and Mission Agency Committee from two people to one person. All the recommendations were approved.
Rev. Peter Bush of the Presbytery of Winnipeg asked "that the Assembly Council develop a plan to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission related to church apologies and reconciliation throughout the committees, agencies and departments of The Presbyterian Church In Canada and the synods, presbyteries and congregations, and to report to the 142nd General Assembly on the plan and the progress made." The TRC released Its recommendations on June 3 as part of a final event in Ottawa.
Clerks of Assembly
The report of the clerks began with a poignant video of Rev. Dr. Tony Plomp, one of the church's deputy clerks. In it he shared a diagnosis of stage four cancer, which is incurable, he said. He quoted the Heidelberg Catechism which he said he still remembers from childhood and which gives him hope:
"Question: What is your only comfort in life and death? Answer: That I am not my own, but belong--body and soul, in life and death--to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ."
Following the video, the Moderator paused to pray for Plomp in his living and his dying, and for the clerks.
Their report Included six recommendations, all of which passed without debate.
Jonathan Dent and Peter Bush asked the assembly to look into the effects of the Supreme Court's decision to ban public prayer at the beginning of meetings of the city council of Saguenay, Que., and how the ruling "impacts our city councils, our governments at all levels and our own public prayers, and to enter into conversation with religious leaders of other religious traditions who share our belief that public prayer adds to civil society and the well being of communities." It was referred to the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee in consultation with Justice Ministries.
Committee on Church Doctrine
The assembly affirmed "that ordained ministers of churches which are members of the World Communion of Reformed Churches are permitted to preside at the Lord's Table at the discretion of the moderator or interim moderator of the relevant session."...