Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mike Cole Reports on Synod PDA Overture

From General Presbyter Rev. Mike Cole:

I agreed to be the overture advocate for a Synod of the Sun overture affirming the work of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance following the hurricanes of 2005. After orientation on Friday night and some strategizing with the overture advocate from South Louisiana, whose overture was similar, I attended the Social Justice Committee where my overture was to be presented. I sat through the debate of several overtures before my overture came up for review.

Previously, the other overture advocate and I collaborated on a unified overture that took the best of each overture to make the work of the committee easier. That tuned out to be a great strategy since the overture that immediately preceded ours eventually (after an hour's debate)went to a re-write sub-committee for simplification. The two of us presented about five minutes of supportive information, answered a few questions and then watched in amazement as the committee voted unanimously to recommend our overture to the assembly.

Here's the text of our overture as it will go to the GA later this week:

Whereas Presbyterians throughout the General Assembly have been generous and gracious in responding to the 2005 Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma with gifts of time, resources, and prayers;

Whereas Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has been and continues to be abundantly helpful in providing leadership and resources in the affected areas and in coordinating relief efforts throughout the denomination; and

Whereas PDA and the presbyteries and synods involved in recovery efforts recognize that the work of rebuilding is far from complete and have worked together to develop a long-term financial response plan,


Therefore, the 218th General Assembly (2008):

1. Thanks Presbyterians throughout the denomination for their generous giving, prayers, and volunteer services in recovery efforts;

2. Thanks and commends the staff and volunteers of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, who, working under extremely difficult circumstances, created a framework for a continued and faithful response to the storms of 2005.

3. Instructs Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to continue the work of nurturing partnerships with the presbyteries affected by the storms of 2005, including regular consultations concerning volunteers and resources.

4. Affirms and commends the long-term recovery plan for the Gulf Coast which was developed jointly by PDA and the synods and presbyteries impacted by hurricanes Rita, Katrina and Wilma. This plan, approved by the GAC, funds recovery efforts on the Gulf Coast through 2011 and allows for continuing evaluation and adjustments as circumstances change.


The destructive hurricanes of 2005, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, affected many communities and churches in the Southeastern United States. The presbyteries and synods of the Gulf Coast have been thoroughly involved with and informed about recovery efforts on many levels.

The members and churches of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), through their own efforts and through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the agencies of the General Assembly, have made significant and continuing contributions to the ongoing work of rebuilding and recovery. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has worked as a significant partner in transmitting funds, recruiting and supporting volunteers, and developing partnerships with the affected presbyteries, including negotiating agreements concerning use of resources.

In January 2008, key persons from recovering presbyteries and synods gathered in Gulfport, Mississippi with PDA and GAC staff to share information. This group reviewed PDA expenditures from 2005 to the present and developed a plan for expenditures for recovery work through 2011.

While a few individuals call for the immediate expenditures of all funds, the leadership in the affected areas believes that an immediate distribution of funds would be unwise and would jeopardize the long-term recovery work outlined in the carefully developed plan of action adopted by the leadership of all of the presbyteries and synods in the affected areas. If it were not for the good stewardship of the governing bodies involved and PDA in setting aside funds for the future, the long term needs would not be met.

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