Book of Order Amendments and What They Mean For Your Church and Session
by Annika Lister Stroope, Stated Clerk
During the covid pandemic, the 2020 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) had to delay conducting business. This meant that the 2022 General Assembly (GA) needed to consider the previous GA’s business as well as new business.
At the conclusion of the 2022 GA, 33 proposed amendments to the Book of Order (Part 2 of the Constitution of the PC(USA)) were sent to presbyteries. All of the proposed amendments have been approved by the majority of presbyteries.
What does this mean for your church?
Please find below information about the amendments that directly affect church sessions. You are welcome to contact the presbyteries’ stated clerk with questions.
The new Book of Order requires ruling elders, inquirers, candidates, and those pursuing certification as Christian educators to complete boundaries training on the topics of sexual misconduct and child sexual abuse prevention every three years.
All church sessions should already have child and youth protection policies and sexual misconduct policies. If your session has not already adopted such policies, please visit this link for an example of a policy that your church session might use as a template.
Insurance companies often require their insureds to have child and youth protection policies and sexual misconduct policies. Please contact your insurance agent to connect you with resources, often provided by insurance companies to their insureds at no cost.
The Presbyteries of Des Moines, North Central Iowa, and Prospect Hill offer boundaries trainings that all ruling and teaching elders are encouraged to attend annually.
Boundaries trainings conducted by other Christian denominations may meet the new Book of Order requirement, and many boundary trainings are offered online. If you find a boundary training accessible to you, please contact Pastor to the Presbyteries, Rev. Ian McMullen, as to meeting the requirements of the Book of Order.
Harassment and Anti-Racism Policies
The new Book of Order requires that all church sessions adopt harassment and anti-racism policies. If your session has not already adopted such policies, the stated clerks of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies have a group of clerks currently working on policy templates as resources for congregations. Background and study resources about how congregations can practice anti-racism may be found here.
The new Book of Order requires that all installed pastors/associate pastors are eligible for 12 weeks of family leave. Some examples of family leave include (but are not limited to): a family member with a physical and/or mental health crisis, medical treatment, pregnancy, adoption, and military caregivers. Please contact Pastor to the Presbyteries, Rev. Ian McMullen, with questions as to how this new policy might affect your congregation.