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GEN 5.1 Report on the Assembly business agenda

22 February 2005

While the Assembly Planning Committee (APC) has pursued preparing the Assembly programme, spiritual life and logistics, the Executive Committee has developed the "business agenda" of the Assembly. This includes procedures for business and elections, committees, as well the best use of regional and confessional meetings during the Assembly.

Based on the work of the Central Committee, the Executive Committee will continue to prepare the business agenda of the Assembly at its meeting in September 2005.

In addition to the Central Committee's testing and consideration of the Manual for Conduct of Meetings (Doc. GEN 4.4), the Central Committee needs to consider and advise the Executive Committee on Assembly committees; election procedures during the Assembly; and the agendas of regional and confessional meetings at the Assembly.

I. Assembly Committees

A. Size and Composition of the Assembly Committee

There are no formal provisions for the size of the Assembly Committees (with the exception of the Business Committee). Various options have been adopted in the past.

The Executive Committee at its meeting in September 2004 recommended that Assembly committees reflect the size and diversity of the present Executive Committee, i.e. 24 persons, representing all regions.

After the confirmation of delegates by the Central Committee (February 2005), staff will prepare nomination proposals for the membership of each Assembly committee. The nominations will be submitted to the Executive Committee (September 2005) for approval. The Executive Committee will forward the lists to the Assembly. During its first business session, the Assembly will appoint its committees.

B. Assembly Committees and Mandates

Only the Business and Nomination committees are explicitly mentioned in the WCC Rules. Other committees are appointed as needed and normally include the Policy Reference Committee, Programme Guidelines Committee, Public Issues Committee, Message Committee, Finance Committee and Worship Committee.

Business Committee

a) Coordinates the day-to-day work of the Assembly.

b) Reviews the Assembly agenda, proposing changes as needed.

c) Monitors the business style of the Assembly.

d) Reviews the work/reports of Assembly committees.

e) Considers how best to present committee reports to the Assembly.

The membership of the Business Committee is constituted ex officio, bringing together delegates with particular responsibilities during the Assembly. Its function and composition are described in the WCC Rules (III. 5).

Nominations Committee

a) Prepares a slate of nominees for election to the Central Committee.

Policy Reference Committee

a) Acts on the reports of the Moderator and the General Secretary.

b) Reviews relations with member churches (e.g. Report of the "Special Commission").

c) Reviews relations with non-member churches (RCC/JWG; Pentecostals/JCG; Evangelicals).

d) Reviews relations with ecumenical partners (REOs; NCCs; CWCs).

e) Considers matters relating to "the coherence of the one ecumenical movement" (Global Christian Forum; reconfiguration of the ecumenical movement).

f) Considers amendments to the WCC Constitution and Rules.

g) Considers membership issues (requests for membership).

h) Proposes policy considerations for the future (in coordination with the Programme Guidelines Committee).

i) Considers other matters referred by the Assembly.

Programme Guidelines Committee

a) Reviews the programmatic work of the WCC.

b) Receives Pre-Assembly Evaluation Report.

c) Proposes guidelines for future work.

d) Proposes programme priorities for future work (coordinated with the Finance Committee and Policy Reference Committee).

Public Issues Committee

a) Prepares statements on selected issues of public concern, including ecumenical engagement in human rights.

Finance Committee

a) Reviews the WCC's finances.

b) Helps Delegates to understand the WCC's financial situation.

c) Prepares financial projections for the future.

d) Proposes financial policy/guidelines for consideration by the new Central Committee.

Message Committee

a) Listens carefully to what is happening at the Assembly.

b) Drafts a message to express the spirit and vision of the Assembly.

Worship Committee

a) Coordinates opening and closing celebrations.

b) Coordinates morning and evening prayer.

c) Coordinates closing prayer at the end of each plenary session.

d) Liase with the host committee, i.e. local participation and Sunday worship with congregations.

e) Coordinates requests to hold Eucharistic services.

This is the only committee whose membership is appointed as a preparatory committee and continues its task during the Assembly. The committee has the option to coopt additional members during the Assembly.

II. Election Procedures

It is necessary to develop procedures to elect Assembly Committees, a Central Committee and 8 Presidents. The procedures will be incorporated in the Manual for Conduct of Meetings (section 14, page 12 of the current edition).

The Executive Committee is asked to consider the draft procedures below and to forward them to the Central Committee for discussion. The Central Committee is invited to comment on the procedures with a view towards strengthening them. Following the Central Committee, the Assembly Planning Committee will make any necessary adjustments in the Assembly timetable; staff will continue to develop the procedures; and the Executive Committee, meeting in September 2005, will finalize the procedures.

The procedures proposed for inclusion as section 14 in the Manual for Conduct of Meetings are:

a) Assembly Committees
During the first Decision Session of the Assembly the Business Committee will present the Executive Committees' nominations for election of the membership of all Assembly committees, including

b) Central Committee

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Prior to the Assembly, member churches are invited to nominate candidates for the Central Committee from amongst Assembly delegates. Consultation between churches in each country and region is encouraged to identify candidates who can represent more than one church.

During the Assembly, regional and confessional meetings provide opportunity for discussion about particular nominations.

Principles guiding the work of the Nominations Committee:

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the personal qualifications of the individual for the task for which she/he is being nominated

fair and adequate confessional representation

fair and adequate geographical and cultural representation

fair and adequate representation of the major interests of the WCC

the general acceptability of the nominations by the churches to which the nominees belong

not more than seven persons from any one member church

adequate representation of lay persons - men, women, young people and persons with disabilities

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Early in the life of the Assembly, the Nominations Committee presents a draft profile of the Central Committee (distribution of up to 150 seats without names) for consideration and approval by the Assembly.

Subsequently, a first reading of nominations is presented in a Hearing Session, during which general discussion about the list is encouraged. No proposed changes to names will be considered in this Session.

Delegates may bring to the Nominations Committee proposals for changes to a specific nomination. Any proposed change needs to offer a replacement with the same demographic profile (region, gender, age, etc.), and must be signed by six delegates from the region concerned.

When the second reading of the list of nominations is brought to a Decision Session (), the Nominations Committee gives an account of the proposals suggested for changes to the slate of names, and any variations resulting from them. If the Assembly is not ready to approve the list, further time is given for out-of-session proposals as described above, and the list is brought to a subsequent Decision Session () for the election.

c. Presidents
Prior to the Assembly, staff will seek advice from regional ecumenical organisations and pre-Assembly regional meetings about appropriate names to be considered by the Nominations Committee in preparing nominations for the eight Presidents of the WCC. The election process will follow the same procedures as the election of the Central Committee members.
d. Voting
Elections are determined by existing voting procedures.

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III. Regional and Confessional Meetings

Traditionally space has been made available during each Assembly for regional and confessional meetings. In the past, the agendas of the two meetings have not always been coordinated with the Assembly business agenda. The Executive Committee proposes that more attention be given to the agendas of both meetings with the goal of making them as meaningful as possible both for the participants gathered in Porto Alegre and for the actions of the Assembly.


Regional Meetings
One regional meeting will take place during the deliberative period of the Assembly. The agenda shall include nominations for Central Committee and regional concerns.
Each region will review the proposed profile of the Central Committee as well as member churches' proposed nominations for Central Committee. The region will identify candidates for consideration by the Nominations Committee. The respective member(s) liasing with each regional group will bring the proposals of each region to the Nominations Committee.
Each region will discuss issues of concern to the churches of the region, including matters of public concern that might be on the agenda of the Assembly. Members of the various Assembly Committees will liase between their respective regions and committees, reporting on the discussions within each region.

Confessional Meetings
One confessional meeting will take place during the deliberative period of the Assembly. The agenda shall include how each respective confessional family views ecumenism in the 21st century and nominations for Central Committee.
Each confessional family will discuss the present state and future of church unity. The group will discuss how as a family of churches the vision of church unity can be strengthened. They will also discuss the unique role they wish the World Council of Churches to play within the wider ecumenical movement as well as the unique roles of various confessional bodies.
Each confessional family will review the proposed profile of the Central Committee as well as member churches' proposed nominations for Central Committee. The confessional family will identify candidates for consideration by the Nominations Committee. The respective member(s) liasing with each confessional family will bring the proposals to the Nominations Committee.
Members of the various Assembly Committees will liase between their respective confessional families and committees, reporting on the discussions within each confessional family.