On an article about the GA actions on the Marriage & Civil Union committee, the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Detroit had this to say.
In both cases the Moderator asked for the opinion of the Stated
Clerk, who referred the matter to the Advisory Committee on the
Constitution. The ACC said that the General Assembly itself has the
authority to determine what the Constitution says, and that therefore
the point of order was not well taken. The Stated Clerk deferred to the
opinion of ACC, and the Moderator declared the objection was overruled.
On appeal, the Moderator’s decision was sustained by the Assembly.
This was a significant and momentous event. We have covenants that
lay out how we shall govern ourselves. The Constitution gives authority
of the General Assembly (by resolution or judicial decision) to
interpret what our governing documents say. But that authority was
predicated on the notion that an interpretation would be necessary
because of an ambiguity. (A 2004 AI approved by the GA says: “The
process of authoritative interpretation should be used sparingly, and
for the purpose of defining potentially ambiguous words or phrases in
the Book of Order, rather than for setting forth detailed procedures or
advice as to how the provisions of our Constitution should be
administered.) The ACC, Moderator, Stated Clerk, and the Assembly itself
today declared that the General Assembly has the power to say that the
plain words of our governing documents (Book of Order and Book of
Confessions) can be “interpreted” to say things that they do not in fact
This action constitutes a significant shift away from the notion that
we are a church governed according to the covenant we have adopted. In
this covenant, the only rules that apply to the entire church are
contained in the Book of Order. The GA has used its power to interpret
to make a rule that is not in the Book of Order. And where trust in the
authority structure of our denomination is a significant problem, this
adds one more bit of evidence for those who claim the “GA” cannot be
trusted to follow the rules.
You can read the entire comment here.