It has been a very busy week, marked by long days and nights, and a profound sadness.
I left off the blog at Day 4, Tuesday, but without listing most of the details. Suffice it to say that we were not able to sidetrack the Authoritative Interpretation, but were surprised at the gracious conscience clause that was added to the Book of Order amendment by someone who did not agree with our stance. While it did not change our minds about the amendment, it may make it easier for some to stay in the PC(USA) a bit longer.
The work against the AI was based on the fact that:
1. The AI is contrary to everything on marriage that is currently in the Book of Order, and
2. As such, should have been ruled out of order under Robert's Rules by the Stated Clerk before it even reached the committee, then
3. Since it did reach the committee, it should have been ruled out of order there.
The fact is that Robert's Rules say that no motion is in order if that motion goes against the body's governing rules, constitution, etc. If any such motion is not ruled out of order and is passed, the fact is, the motion is still against the rules, and as such is Null and Void!
The ACC representative to the committee kept trying to point to the fact that the 'body' needs to fix the tension, or in other words, the fact it contradicts the constitution, while the point of order was based on the ACC's own comments in the overture that the motion contradicts the constitution, and as such is, in of itself, out of order.
That point was conveniently glossed over.
Day 5 began with the continuation of the Plenary meetings. Lots of business was not done, as we saw plenty of rah-rah videos and features that were obviously biased to how great we are as a denomination. It appeared, at least to this GA commissioner, that it was all playing to the Internet live-stream viewers. We had started the day thinking that the Committee 10 business would be brought up on Friday morning. At the beginning of the afternoon session (I believe) Bills and Overtures moved it to Thursday afternoon.
Didn't help those who were trying to craft a minority report, but they got it done for Thursday. The rest of the day was spent on other committees, but some business was then postponed to Friday, as there wasn't enough time for commissioners to instruct themselves on some of the details brought before them.
Day 6 began with more of the same, a few more things were pushed to Friday evening, Friday afternoon would be the great divestiture debate.
I'm going to skip to the real meet of the day, the Marriage issues. When the committee business was brought forward, the minority report was put out as an answer to the rest of the overtures. The matter was discussed, back and forth, and a vote taken, based on that vote, I knew that the votes to defeat any marriage overture was not there.
There was no mushy middle any longer, or at least not at this GA.
When the AI overture was brought up, the same commissioner on cmte 10 who raised the point of order there, brought it up again hoping to get a better answer. Unfortunately the same ACC resource person gave the same answer as in committee. The commissioner pressed that this was not a point of order on the constitutionality of the overture, that the ACC had already pointed this out in its advice on the overture, but again, that was glossed over. He asked for vote to overturn the ruling, soundly defeated. The point of order tactic was done.
The same commissioner came back to the mic speaking against the motion on the AI, talking about how he joined the PC(USA) because of its bottom up approach to polity, and this was something new, a top down instruction that what it says in the BOO is not what it says it does.
The AI was overwhelmingly approved, probably due to the feeling of the commissioners who, as one YAAD said, felt we were sent here to do something.
And here I thought we were sent here to listen, understand, consult Scripture, and listen for the Holy Spirit, not do something. Doing nothing is doing something ...
After that there wasn't a reason to keep on bringing motions in opposition, the commissioner kept the session moving by calling the question on each of the others if and when necessary. The votes weren't there, some people had drunk the Kool-Aid.
The funny part of all this is after the AI passed, another commissioner stood up on Point of Order to make sure that the Moderator only calls on a commissioner once on a motion, saying that one commissioner had risen to speak three times on a motion.
In reality the commissioner had risen once to raise the Point of Order, once to question the ruling and ask for a vote on overturning the ruling, then once to the actual motion.
This was just one of many incidents that show that many commissioners did not understand how Robert's Rules actually works.
... and so it goes!!