Guide to making a Proposal for GA

So you have an idea for a proposal for General Assembly, but how do get it to the floor of the debating chamber.

In principle,

  1. You will take your written proposal to the Session Clerk at your local church
  2. The Session Clerk will give it the Session to discuss and vote on.
  3. If they agree, they will send it to your Presbytery to discuss and vote on
  4. If they agree it will be sent to General Assembly to be discussed and voted on.

But before you start with this process, ask yourself, does this idea actually need to go to Assembly, if we can do your idea within the existing legislation, we don’t need to go to GA where your idea maybe shot down, let’s figure out how we can make it happen. Speak to PYM, we can help you think through your idea.

If it does need to go to Assembly, you should also ask your friends at church, your minister and elders what they think of your idea.

If your idea includes changes to the Book of Order, before you write your proposal speak to the Book of Order Advisor for advice. Currently, that would be Heather McKenzie (027 455 0124).

If your idea includes financial implications to the national church, you should speak to the Convenor of the resource subcommittee for advice. Currently, that would be Anne Edgar (021 037 8150).

Writing your proposal

After seeking advice, you are now ready to write your proposal. Have a look at this example proposal from GA16.

You will see there are two sections. Recommendations and Proposal.

The recommendations are what you want, and what people will vote on. The Proposal is the arguments why people should agree with your recommendations.

So write your recommendations succinctly, And with your proposal, write your arguments in order of significance. In this section, you may want to think of counter-arguments and make arguments against these also.

An example.
You may be thinking we want the Presbyterian Church to support the government’s goal of planting one billion trees over the next 10 years, by planting 1000 trees each year for ten years. Without any problem, you could list of environmental reasons why this would be a good idea.

This would be an admiral recommendation, but if you left it like that, no doubt delegates may ask, how is this going to happen, and where is the money going to come from.

Say your church had a field and was committed to planting trees yourself, a better proposal would say, our church is going to plant 1000 trees in the next ten years in a field we own. We recommend other congregations support this effort and look for opportunities to do likewise. This would be much more likely to get voted through.

But the reality is, does this even need to go to Assembly? Would a better way, not be to just plant your trees, and share the story with the church through the communication department, through national resourcing departments, Presbyteries and inspire others to follow.