Motion of the General Assembly Administrative Commission for the Synod of the Covenant to Return Jurisdiction

Adopted at the 10/9/21 Synod Assembly

Action: The General Assembly Administrative Commission for the Synod of the Covenant moves to return full jurisdiction to the Synod of the Covenant to govern itself in accordance with the PC(USA) Book of Order effective October 9, 2021; while retaining jurisdiction only for currently ongoing legal process purposes.

The General Assembly Administrative Commission for the Synod of the Covenant began its work on March 25, 2019, as authorized by the PCUSA 223rd General Assembly, to address disorder in the Synod of the Covenant, and assumed Original Jurisdiction on February 12, 2020. Given the work that has been done to date, which is summarized below in the rationale, and with the understandings also listed in the rationale regarding continued support of the Synod until the Administrative Commission has been dismissed, the Administrative Commission moves to restore jurisdiction.


  1. Having found significant systemic dysfunction with no apparent ability to resolve or mediate conflicts within the system, The Administrative Commission assumed Original Jurisdiction of the Synod of the Covenant on February 12, 2020, and set in motion several other actions to restore order and seek reconciliation. The Administrative Commission effectively replaced the Assembly of Synod Commissioners and Officers.
  2. The Administrative Commission replaced Synod staff and engaged consulting services of a professional mediation consultant, law firm, and an auditing firm. The Administrative Commission suspended the Synod Bylaws, with the exception of those related to Judicial Process.
  3. The Administrative Commission elected several representatives from Presbyteries to support resuming the Synod Grant and Scholarship Program which had been suspended for a short time.
  4. The Administrative Commission approved relocation of the Synod office, established all new communications processes and systems, bookkeeping and accounting, and banking, with the leadership of the Synod Interim Executive.
  5. The Administrative Commission approved recruitment of Community Organizers to support and focus on the Synod’s racial and ethnic diversity communities.
  6. Presbytery Executive Staff and Stated clerks have re-engaged and generously contribute to the ministry life of the Synod.
  7. Commissioner positions have been elected by their Presbyteries and are being continuously trained to serve in this capacity and are now serving Synod committees which both leverage their gifts and build their skills. Many have attended and participated as guests at Administrative Commission/Synod meetings.
  8. The Synod of the Covenant has a renewed sense of purpose and shared vision.
  9. The continuing actions to rebuild its ability to manage with full accountability, engage with presbytery leaders, communicate clearly and frequently, and manage wisely its affairs leads the Administrative Commission to conclude that it is time to return jurisdiction to the Synod.
  10. The Administrative Commission acknowledges its responsibility to continue in service to the Synod of the Covenant in an advisory capacity until it is dismissed by the General Assembly.

Members of the Synod of the Covenant: Administrative Commission made these comments during their roll-call vote.

Rev. Brady Radford, Co-Moderator of the General Assembly Administrative Commission for the Synod of the Covenant: Good morning, I graciously support this motion to return jurisdiction to the Synod of the covenant. I am grateful for God‘s guidance as we have watched healing happen here. God indeed has led the Synod through our interim executive Rev. Dr.  Charles B. Hardwick and countless others to transform what once were swords into plowshares. The work the Synod continues to do by way of building new leaders and inviting more voices to the table is beyond commendable.  I’m excited to see what God is doing in the life and ministry of the Synod.

Rev. Sue Krummel (Chicago): I vote yes. Friends in the Synod of the Covenant, what a difference we have seen in the way you make decisions, in the way you support one another, and in the way you are working to seek a new vision for a new time moving forward. It is my hope for you that you will be brave in asking questions and in being persistent until you have answers; that you will continue to look for new voices to bring into your deliberations; and that you will listen deeply for the ways in which God is calling you to bring hope in the name of Jesus.

Elder Michelle Johnson: Yes, I approve.  Praise God.  It has been an honor to serve all of you.  This is a momentous occasion.

Elder Ben McConaughy: I support the return of original jurisdiction to the Synod of the Covenant. Over the last eighteen months, I have seen dramatic improvement in several areas of the Synod’s operation.

Communication, and an attitude of openness and transparency, has been significantly enhanced. It is apparent that there is renewed enthusiasm to engage with the Synod by the bodies and people that it serves. The diversity and number of people involved with the Synod have increased. The Synod has gotten back on track on focusing on its ministry and mission. The Synod offices and recordkeeping are greatly improved.

Strong servant-based leadership is currently in place. The new commissioners have been well trained in their roles.

My charge is for the incoming commissioners to take their roles seriously, and to exercise their power in love. I want to read from 1 Corinthians 13 – often read at weddings – and pray that it might be reflected in your work here: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  May it be so as you move forward.

Rev. Adel Malek: I vote yes. Friends at the Synod of the Covenant, I have a challenge for you: please continue to remember your history, even if it doesn’t look nice to you. John Dalberg-Acton said, “History is not a burden on the memory, but an illumination of the soul.” I think to avoid the past mistakes, we have to remember our history. To be honest with you, as we studied a lot of your history, and heard from many people, I had my own doubts that this Synod would come back together again. And you proved I was wrong. Now, I have a complete trust in your leadership and in your own ability to be the Synod of Matthew 25.  Keep up the good work!

Rev. Richard Rojas:  I support this motion to return jurisdiction to the Synod of the covenant with gratitude. When being invited to walk along this journey with the Synod, I have witnessed courage, discipline, a profound sense of belonging and a transparent love that transcends boundaries. Your desire to embrace a common hope in Christ –founded in a shared vision, reflects the result of a body who are searching for ways of being a blessing to the world. Gloria a Dios, al Hijo y al Espíritu Santo, amén.

Elder Patrice Hatley, Co-Moderator Synod of the Covenant Administrative Commission: I vote Yes. A key ingredient in helping the Synod move toward healing and reconciliation is your emerging capacity to step back from your position on content issues being faced and instead focus on your primary role of being stewards of health within the system. That’s a key ingredient in helping the Synod move toward healing and reconciliation. With that focus, Synod leaders now avoid getting caught up in the anxiety of a particular situation. I observe you really leaning toward longer term and sustained healthy functioning, methodical, orderly, and thoughtful engagement with each other in faithful service to your communities and neighbors. Keep attentive to well-functioning systems and processes that help you establish wise and clear boundaries, and internal financial controls and excellent personnel practices, too. I leave you with a charge to stay connected and involved. Be interactive and relational in all things. Keep inviting those who have stepped away back to the table, and extend generous welcome to them. This is a work in progress. Always. So, cut yourselves some slack, too.

Elder Elona Street-Stewart (sent these comments ahead of time):  I do believe that we all are ready to transition. The Administrative Commission is endowing the transition as an encouraging companion, sharing ownership without possession. The synod is living into the transition, cultivating a purpose, motivated by their own contributions. The ministries are embracing the transition to self-sufficiency, setting their sight on their strengths rather than fears. What was broken is in repair and what was lost is being reconciled. Leadership is excited and hopeful, the community has claimed the challenges, sacrifices and celebrations that churches experienced and now they recommit to collaborating on a better future.  The restoration of jurisdiction is strategic, constructive, and blessed.  I am glad to extend my support for the recommendation and look forward to meeting with you all again.