15. AUTHORITY FOR THE ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE TO AMMEND REGULATIONS (Standing Committee)

That the Assembly

authorize the Assembly Standing Committee, on the advice of the Legal Reference Committee and after appropriate consultation, to amend the following parts of the Regulations, as and when the Standing Committee deems it necessary

  • The Code of Ethics
  • The Alternative Regulations for Korean Congregations, and
  • Part 5 - the Discipline Regulations

Rationale:

The 12th Assembly instituted a process for the revision of the Regulations and authorised the Standing Committee to make the changes that it considered necessary in order to achieve the goals established for this process by the 12th Assembly (Assembly minute 09.13).

09.13    Revision of the Regulations

                        a)  to authorise the Standing Committee, on the advice of the Assembly Legal Reference Committee, to amend the Regulations to achieve the following outcomes:

a) removing redundant provisions;
b) standardising of language and style;
c) addressing the numbering of sections;
d) simplifying the Regulations so that they are prescriptive only where it is deemed to be essential, and simplified to enhance the capacity of Councils to be adaptive and missional in their particular contexts; and
e) consistently reflects the theology and polity of the Uniting Church;

    b)      to request the Standing Committee to:

(i)         include in its deliberations consideration of providing for the establishment of binding policies and / or by laws that can be established and amended by the Assembly Standing Committee; and

(ii)         consult with synods, presbyteries, Congress, multicultural networks and the UnitingCare network as it undertakes its review and development of new Regulations;

One of the aims of the revision of the Regulations was to re write them, so far as possible, so as to enable greater flexibility and responsiveness to the changing circumstances in which the church finds itself today. In addition to this goal the 12th Assembly also requested that the Standing Committee consider whether there was a place for it to have the authority to establish policies or guidelines which would be binding on the church but which need not go to the full Assembly for approval.

In undertaking this referral from the 12th Assembly the Standing Committee became aware that there were some areas in the current publication “Constitution and Regulations” which were of a very different character to these two types of documents. In particular they are The Code of Ethics for Ministry Practice and The Manual for Meetings. There is already provision in the Manual for Meetings for the Assembly Standing Committee to make amendments as required. The weight to be given to these two documents is identified in the way they are referenced in the Regulations. The Standing Committee has come to the view that once the status and role of these documents is established in the Regulations it is not essential that the full meeting of the triennial Assembly be involved in their amendment. Both of these documents benefit from the possibility of review and refinement on a “needs” basis rather than having to wait for up to four years for changes to be possible. The value of timeliness in changing these documents seems self evident. Standing Committee proposes that with adequate consultation it is preferable for a small group that meets more frequently, such as the Standing Committee, to have the authority to make timely amendments.

As the work of reviewing the regulations was being undertaken it was recognised that there are some regulations that are so specialized that making changes to allow for flexibility was not helpful. In reflecting on this the Standing Committee considered that this level of specialization also made it more appropriate for a group smaller in size than 280 people with only an hour or two to spare for the task to be able to have authority to make changes to them. The Alternative Korean Regulations and the Discipline Regulations seem to the Standing Committee to be cases in point. It can also be argued that both of these may also benefit from more timely changes as new situations arise, than the cycle of Assembly meetings allow.

The Standing Committee considers that it is consistent with the objectives named in the 12th Assembly decision to review the Regulations that the Standing Committee be authorised to make amendments to the areas of the “Regulations” named in this proposal.