Assembly Updates

Assembly Resolution

16 August 2022

Resolved by the General Assembly of NSW on Wednesday, 13th July, 2022

That the Assembly:

1. Thank all those who gave feedback and good workable ideas to our paper “Co-Heirs and Co-Workers: The Engagement of Women in Decision Making of the PCNSW.”

2. Encourage each Session to consider how best to identify and train and set apart women of suitable character, commitment and training to help them with the pastoral care and decision-making processes that operate within their church.

3. Encourage each Session to consider how best (within their local contexts and theological beliefs) to engage with women in key decisions of the Church that affect them. Some options suggested by our survey respondents to be considered area.

  • Session set up a Women’s Advisory Group whom they liaise with on specific issues
  • Session can invite key women to the first part of their Session meetings for a discussion that would then inform their decision making later in the meeting
  • Session can choose to appoint some of their key women to a ‘co-worker’ position and give them the privileges of an associate while Session sits

4. Encourage each Presbytery to establish a group of women of suitable character, commitment and training and consider their inclusion when dealing with all complaints and disciplinary processes undertaken by the Presbytery.

5. Encourage each Presbytery to establish a group of women of suitable character, commitment and training and consider their inclusion when Ministry Candidates Committees are set up.

6. Encourage each Presbytery to establish a group of women of suitable character, commitment and training and consider their inclusion when doing either Special or General Parish Visitations.

7. Note that the Pastoral Relations Commission already has in its regulations the provision to invite "one or more ministers, elders or communicants to join the Commission for a particular case but without voting rights." Encourage the Pastoral Relations Commission to consider including a female communicant each time they are presented with a new case.

8. Thank the Conciliation Committee for being willing to talk to the Women’s Ministry Committee about engaging suitably qualified women in the regular work of the committee.

9. Encourage the Conciliation Committee to co-opt women to the committee (as allowed under regulation A4.02) and to routinely include women in the teams allocated to deal with disputes or conflict.

10. Endorse the following Statement of Affirmation recognising the value of women as fellow image bearers and necessary partners in the life of the PCNSW:

  • Women and men are co-heirs of life (1 Pet 3:7) in creation and redemption. They are created in God’s image (Gen 1:26-27). They are redeemed in Christ and are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Gal 3:28-29). They are daughters and sons of God (2 Cor 8:18) and sisters and brothers in Christ (James 2:15). The Church fails the Lord if it fails to honour, protect and nurture women and men.
  • Women and men are co-workers. They are made to work in partnership in God’s service (Gen 2:18). This is particularly expressed in marriage, but is true in many other relationships and particularly in the church (Rom 16:1-3, 6-7, 12,15; Phil 4:3; Col 4:15). The Lord Jesus gives gifts to women and men in the church to serve each other for the common good (1 Cor 12:4-11). The church is deprived of the Lord’s blessing when women and men are not encouraged to serve according to their gifts and in their callings.
  • The Presbyterian Church of Australia holds that the office of Minister of Word and Sacrament is open only to qualified men. Many congregations and members of the PCNSW allow only men to hold other roles of teaching and leadership. The Assembly recognises and affirms the biblical basis for these convictions (1 Tim 2:11-12; 1Co 14:34). It also recognises that the application of these principles varies among congregations.
  • The Assembly commits itself to exploring ways in which women can serve as fully as possible in the Church and be engaged in decision-making. The Assembly encourages Sessions and Presbyteries to consider how they can also encourage and support such service.

11. Appoint a Special Committee known as the Women’s Engagement Working Group to explore, discuss and bring recommendations to the GA2023 concerning how the Assembly can better include women in the decision-making forums of PCNSW, consisting of Rev Stephen Taylor (Convener), Rev. David Burke, Mr Jeof Falls, Rev. Kamal Weerakoon, Ms Margaret McKenzie, Mrs Elizabeth McClean, Mrs. Anna Moss, Dr. Deb Tattersall, Mr Graeme Wong See, and Rev John Irvin.

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