The following was a proposal for a
2 Synod Constitutional Structure within the PCUSA.
The following presents the elements of a proposed Two Synod Structure.
The Formerly Proposed 2 Synod structure:
Under the Proposed
Structure, each of these two Primary Synods would consist of an elected Board of Nine, in addition to the PCUSA
General Assembly Stated Clerk and the PCUSA General Assembly Moderator, who would be permanent voting members,
creating a total board membership of 11, for each Primary Synod. The PCUSA General Assembly would have jurisdication
over Missions, Pensions, and other Administrative matters. Each Primary Synod (Auburn and Westminster) would, independently
from the other Primary Synod, determine their own ordination standards, statements of faith, definition of
marriage, and educational materials to be used. Each Primary Synod (Westminster and Auburn) would also, independently
from the other Primary Synod, determine their method of church growth, their church planting programs, and
their methods of evangelism.
The Permanent Judicial Commission would be reorganized. Each Primary Synod
would have their own Permanent Judicial Commission at the Presbytery level, the Sub-Synod level, with final authority
residing at the Primary Synod level.
The Permanent Judicial Commission at the General Assembly level
would be replaced with a General Assembly Arbitration Board, which would be an ecclesiastical court of limited jurisdiction.
The General Assembly Arbitration Board would have no jurisdiction to decide cases involving ordination standards, definition
of marriage, proper statements of faith, etc.. These issues could only be appealed to the highest Permanent Judicial
Commission within the respective Primary Synod, where the petition was filed.
The existing Synods would be
reorganized into sub-Synods, aligned with their respective Primary Synod, (e.g. either the Auburn Primary Synod
or the Westminster Primary Synod). There would be two Sub-Synods in each geographic region, each representing
their respective Primary Synod (Auburn or Westminster). The two Sub-Synods, which represent their respective
Primary Synod (Westminster or Auburn), would have the same geographical boundaries, so that the Sub-Synods can
work together on various projects, administer camps and retreat sites, etc..
The existing Presbyteries would be split into two, one Auburn, and one Westminster. Each congregation, by
a 60% vote, would choose their Primary Synod (Auburn or Westminster), with which they wish to affliliate. If a congregation's vote
is less than 60%, to affiliate with either Primary Synod, the congregation would default to the Auburn Primary Synod.
"Cross-Over Committees" would be created uniting the Presbyteries located within the same geographic boundaries,
(Presbytery Region). All of the Presbyteries of both Primary Synods, in the same geographic region, would
be included within those boundaries, to create a Presbytery Region and Cross Over Committees. The "Cross-Over
Committees" in the same geographical area (Presbytery Region) could then work on issues of common concern.
Exercise of Religion in Historical Context, and the Passage of Amendment 14-F:
following pages review the Founding Fathers view of the Free Exercise of Religion, which has become an issue, (in
a nation founded by religious groups seeking to freely exercise their faith). This issue was well presented by
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in her dissent in the City of Boerne decision. There is also a
discussion of the final vote on Amendment 14-F.
Thomas Jefferson, the drafter of the Virginia
Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, wrote in that document that civil government could interfere in religious exercise
only "when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order". In 1808, he indicated that
he considered "government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions,
their doctrines, discipline, or exercises." 11 The Writings of Thomas Jefferson 428-429.
Please see the next pages for more on the issue of free exercise of religion.