Yesterday – 3 May – Roberta Rominger, general secretary of the United Reformed Church, and James Breslin, clerk to the General Assembly, wrote to all synod moderators and clerks requesting nominations for the role of lay Moderator of the General Assembly. The nominations are to be submitted to Mrs Rominger no later than 31 May.
This urgent and unusual request was made for two reasons:
Taken together, these two facts meant that the Assembly officers needed to find a solution to a unique set of circumstances. Several options were considered, including that the current lay moderator, Mrs Val Morrison, serve for a further two years; and, alternatively, that an election be held at Assembly, for a lay moderator to start their term of office this July. In the end the officers opted for a third way.
The current rules of procedure state that a moderator remains in post until the induction of his or her successor. Given this, Mrs Morrison, will continue until her successor is inducted – it is hoped that this will take place at the May 2013 Mission Council meeting – and she will therefore join the Revd Dr Michael Jagessar in chairing General Assembly in July.
The proposal of the Assembly officers is that a lay Moderator should be elected at General Assembly and will serve as moderator-elect until his/her induction in 2013. S/he will then serve a three-year term, until General Assembly meets in 2016. Mrs Morrison's continuation in post does not require any changes to the rules, but the proposal for a change to the period of service for the next lay moderator will need the consent of the General Assembly and this will be sought when it meets in Scarborough in July.
The 13 Synods of the United Reformed Church have been asked to submit the names of elders, serving or nonserving, who are prepared to serve as Moderator of General Assembly 2013-16. Each Synod has been asked to nominate one person and these names will all go forward for election at General Assembly in July. Members of the United Reformed Church, who have names to suggest, should, in the first instance, contact their synod office.
The election of the ministerial moderator is unaffected by these proposed changes. Dr Jagessar will serve as moderator 2012-2014 and the election of his successor will be held using our normal procedures.