1. General Assembly
1.1 The Assembly shall meet at least once in every alternate year. The scheduled meeting in each such year, the place and dates of which shall be determined by a preceding Assembly, shall be the Ordinary Meeting of the Assembly. At the completion of the business of the Ordinary Meeting of the Assembly, the Assembly is adjourned. The members of Assembly at any time between Ordinary Meetings of the Assembly remain those who were included on the Roll of Assembly at the constitution of the immediately preceding Ordinary Meeting of the Assembly. Any meeting of the Assembly other than the Ordinary Meeting shall be a special meeting.
1.2 A special meeting of the Assembly may be convened by the Mission Council or by either Moderator of the General Assembly.
1.3 All meetings of the Assembly shall be convened and held as provided by these rules. The Standing Orders which are printed in the Book of Reports to General Assembly shall apply to all meetings of the Assembly and the Mission Council and, in so far as they are applicable, to meetings of synods, district councils and their committees.
1.4 The Roll of Assembly shall be made up by the General Secretary. Synods shall send to the General Secretary, the names and addresses of their representatives to the forthcoming Assembly so as to reach the General Secretary not later than fourteen weeks before the meeting of the Assembly. Any necessary amendments to the list shall be notified to the General Secretary not later than two weeks before the meeting of the Assembly, at which time the roll shall be held to be complete.1.5 When a synod cannot fill all its allotted places at Assembly, its vacant seats may be filled from other synods bearing in mind the need to balance lay and ministerial representation.
2. BUSINESS OF THE ASSEMBLY
2.1 Notice of any meeting of the Assembly shall be sent by post to each member as defined by Article 2 (5) (a) to (j) of the Structure not less than 14 clear days before the date of meeting and shall contain a statement of the business to be transacted and the reports to be received. No business other than that specified in the notice calling the meeting shall be transacted except business accepted by the Assembly on the advice of the Assembly Arrangements Committee.
2.2 The General Secretary shall dispatch to every member with the notice of the meeting a registration card. No member of the Assembly shall speak or vote at the Assembly unless possessing such a card and unless, when required to do so by the Moderator or the Moderator's deputy, displaying it.
2.3 The Assembly shall at its ordinary Meeting appoint the members of the Assembly Committees all of which shall be constituted in accordance with the decision of the Assembly. Each committee shall discharge the functions assigned to it by the Assembly and report to the Assembly
2.4 When a resolution which directly concerns the life, status or witness of a named member or minister of the United Reformed Church, a named local church or a church institution is brought to the Assembly by an assembly committee or synod, and the individual or group feels aggrieved thereby,
2.4.1 the individual or group may request the Clerk, not less than seven days before the opening of Assembly, for a hearing,
2.4.2 the individual or two representatives of the group will be received, will be permitted to speak and will have their travel costs within the United Kingdom paid,
2.4.3 and the time allowance for speaking will be equal in aggregate to that of the persons proposing the motion. Those speaking will follow the proposers at the start of the debate and precede the proposer at the end of the debate.
2.4.4 An individual appellant may be accompanied by one other person whose name and status shall be made known to the Assembly and who may be permitted by the Moderator to speak if the appellant requests this.
3.1 The Moderators of the General Assembly shall be elected by ballot in accordance with these Rules. Each Moderator shall serve for two years commencing at the Assembly following the Meeting at which the report of the election is received in accordance with Rule 3.10. The period of office shall be deemed to begin with the induction of each Moderator and shall continue until that Moderator's successor is inducted into office.
3.2 The Moderators of the General Assembly shall be two in number, a minister or a Church Related Community Worker and an Elder. The Elder may be serving or non-serving but in all cases the names of those persons nominated to serve as Moderator must be included on the membership roll of a local church for that person to be eligible for nomination.
3.3 A nomination for election as Moderator of the General Assembly shall be made by a synod, the consent of the nominee not being required. The nomination shall be in writing under the hand of the clerk of the synod and received by the General Secretary not later than the 31st March immediately preceding the Annual Meeting of the Assembly.
3.4 The General Secretary shall forthwith send to each person nominated a list of the nominations. Any nominee may, within ten days of the receipt of this list, withdraw from nomination by notice in writing to the General Secretary.
3.5 If after 31st March or after the period for withdrawal there shall be no nominations, in either or both categories, the General Secretary shall forthwith notify the clerks of the synods and invite them to request nominations from the executive committees or equivalent of their synods. Such nominations, accompanied in each case by a note of the consent of the person nominated and a brief biography, must be in the hands of the General Secretary by 15th May.’
3.6 In either category if after the period for withdrawal there is only one nomination, this nomination shall be placed before the Assembly and voted upon by secret ballot.
3.7 If the number of those who have been nominated in either category and have not withdrawn is or exceeds two, the election shall be by a secret ballot according to the principle of the single transferable vote. All members of the Assembly shall be entitled to vote. They shall vote by indicating their preference by figures 1, 2, 3 and so forth, but no voting paper shall be invalidated by the absence of alternative choices. If the tellers find that no name has an absolute majority of first choices, the second choices of those who gave as their first choice the name securing the smallest number of such choices shall be added to the first choices for other names. If necessary this process shall continue until one of the names has an absolute majority of votes cast. If the process continues until only two names remain, the person who then has the larger number of votes shall be elected.
3.8 Members of the Assembly shall vote by means of a voting paper containing the name, the usual designation and the church of membership, of each of those accepting nomination which shall be sent by the General Secretary by ordinary post to each such member before the commencement of the Ordinary Meeting of the Assembly. Brief indication of the reasons for the nomination, as supplied by the synod, may be circulated with the ballot paper. The General Assembly may in any case authorise further means of informing the members about those accepting nomination.
3.9 Normally, the General Assembly shall vote to elect the Moderators of the Assembly by secret ballot as an item of business following prayer on either the second or third day of the meeting of the Assembly. The ballot boxes shall be delivered to the tellers by whom alone they shall be opened. They shall report the result of the ballot to the Assembly at a later session.
3.10 As soon as the voting papers have been examined and the result of the poll ascertained, the voting papers shall be closed up under the seal of the tellers or any two of them, and shall be retained by the General Secretary for one month after the election, and shall then be destroyed.
3.11 At each Ordinary Meeting the Assembly shall appoint, upon the nomination of the Nominations Committee, three tellers to be responsible for the ballot for that year. The counting of the votes cast shall take place in secret under their supervision and control and they shall:
3.11.1 inform the General Secretary of the names of the persons elected and the General Secretary shall thereupon individually inform those nominated whether or not they have been elected.
3.11.2 report to the Assembly the names of the persons elected, the number of papers received and the number of papers which were invalid.
3.12 If any of the tellers appointed by the Assembly shall become incapable of acting the Moderator shall fill any such vacancy or vacancies and report that action to the Assembly.
3.13 Upon receipt of the report of the tellers by the Assembly the persons elected shall thereupon become the duly elected Moderators for the two years commencing at the next Ordinary Meeting of the Assembly.
3.14 In the event of either or both of the persons elected to serve as Moderator becoming unable to serve, or where the previous General Assembly at its ordinary meeting has failed to elect, the General Secretary shall seek nominations from Synods in the manner prescribed in clauses 3.3 to 3.5 for persons available to serve as Moderator for the coming Assembly. On receipt of those names, the General Secretary will inform all those whose names appeared on the roll of the previous Assembly of the nominations and send them a ballot paper. Those ballot papers shall be returned by post within five working days of receipt. Thereafter, the General Secretary shall deliver these ballot papers unopened to the tellers for the election of the Moderator who shall open and count the votes cast and report the result of this election to the General Secretary in the same form as would have been reported to the General Assembly had this election been held during the Assembly.
4. GENERAL SECRETARY
4.1 The General Secretary, who shall be a minister of the United Reformed Church shall be appointed for a period of seven years renewable for the same term or such shorter period as the Assembly may determine. The appointment shall be made according to the following procedure.
4.2 The group to appoint or review the General Secretary or Deputy General Secretary shall consist of the Moderators of the General Assembly (one of whom shall act as Convener), the Clerk of the General Assembly (who shall act as Secretary), three Conveners of the Assembly standing committees, and six members of the Appointment and Review Panel selected by the Nominations Committee. This group shall have the authority to make a nomination for the appointment or reappointment of a General Secretary or a Deputy General Secretary. That nomination shall be brought to the next General Assembly or Mission Council for agreement.
5. CLERK OF ASSEMBLY
5.1 The General Assembly may appoint a Clerk of Assembly as distinct from the General Secretary. In that case the Nominations Committee shall submit a name to the General Assembly for appointment as Clerk, for six years in the first instance, renewable for a maximum additional period of four years, but ensuring an overlap with a period of service of the General Secretary.
6.1 In Wales and Scotland there shall in each case be a single synod. The area of the church in England shall be divided into such number of synods as the Assembly on the recommendation of the Mission Council may from time to time determine.
6.2 A synod may constitute such committees and subcommittees as are required for the conduct of its business and may delegate to those committees or subcommittees such of its powers as it considers appropriate.
7. MODERATORS OF SYNOD
7.1 A moderator for each synod who shall be a minister of the United Reformed Church shall be appointed by the General Assembly and be responsible to it.
7.2.1 Each moderator shall be appointed for such term not exceeding seven years as the General Assembly shall in each case think fit, beginning on a date to be determined by the General Assembly, subject always to the provisions of Rule 7.2.3.
7.2.2 The General Assembly shall have power to determine any such appointment during its term or to renew any such appointment for successive terms of not more than five years each, subject always to the provisions of Rule 7.2.3.
7.2.3 Moderators shall not be eligible to hold office following the elapse of one month from their sixty eighth birthday unless the General Assembly in special circumstances determines otherwise.
7.3 The moderators shall submit a report to each Assembly.
8.1 If any church or church member wishes to appeal against a decision of any council in accordance with paragraph 5(2) of the Structure the rules of procedure set out below shall apply.
8.2 Any church or church member wishing to appeal against a decision of any council shall within ten days of the making of the decision request in writing the secretary of that council to supply a written copy of the minute of the decision. This copy shall be supplied within ten days and within ten days of the receipt of such minute the appellant shall notify in writing the secretary of the body concerned of such desire to appeal.
8.3 Where an appeal is against the decision of any council, its effect shall be to stay the action of the council concerned pending consideration of the matter by the wider council to which it is referred and the decision of that council upon it.
8.4 An appellant shall have the right and may be required to appear at a meeting of the wider council when the matter is under review.
8.5 The council against whose decision there is appeal shall also be represented in support of its decision.
8.6 All appeals shall be accompanied by all relevant records and papers.
8.7 Appellants shall be entitled to see such papers as they deem necessary in order to bring the subject of their appeal before the wider council.
8.8 Councils hearing appeals proceed in the matter in the following order:
8.8.1 call for and read minutes and papers relevant to the case
8.8.2 hear the parties to the difference or dispute, viz.(a) every appellant,(b) the appointed representatives of the council whose actions are under question.
8.8.3 give members of the council hearing the appeal an opportunity of putting questions to the parties through the presiding officer.
8.8.4 consider and decide upon the matter in the absence of the parties
8.8.5 the parties being recalled, intimate the decision to them by the presiding officer who asks them whether they acquiesce
8.8.6 through the clerk/secretary supply copies of the decision in writing to the parties.
8.9 Any such difference or dispute may with the consent of all parties concerned be referred to a committee or to the moderator of the synod for decision but if any of the parties refuse to accept such a reference the case must be heard by the full council.
8.10 There can be no appeal arising from decisions of the General Assembly whose decisions are final and binding upon the members and councils of the United Reformed Church.
8.11 The provisions of this Section headed 'Appeals' shall not apply to cases which are being determined by the Assembly Commission under the Disciplinary Process set out in Section O of the Manual of the United Reformed Church.