Presbyteries frequently work through administrative commissions. Sometimes this work is non-controversial, such as ordaining or installing. Sometimes presbyteries use administrative commissions to handle some really muddy situations.
At the meeting of Pittsburgh Presbytery on September 7, 2006 at the Crestfield Camp and Conference Center, we formed an administrative commission for a church that was reported to be affected by disorder. This particular commission was not formed with a huge amount of specific authority, but it surprised me that the Presbytery approved this commission without a single question from the floor. The stark lack of questions struck me as evidence that there is a huge amount of trust when this Presbytery's Committee on Ministry says that a commission is necessary.
At the very same meeting we received the final report of an administrative commission formed a few months earlier to deal with alleged trouble in a different congregation. I drove to and from the meeting at Crestfield with a member of that congregation's session. She was relieved when that commission was dismissed, but was disappointed by some statements in the commission's final report that created the impression that the good things now happening in the congregation had not been happening before the commission was formed.
I am very grateful for the members of the presbytery who are willing to serve on commissions that step into situations that may be better or worse than they were perceived to be when the need for a commission was first proposed. Given the headache and heartache for all who are affected by the unnecessary formation of an administrative commission, I wonder whether it might be better to ask a question or two from the floor next time. My other articles about this meeting: A. Preliminary thoughts B. Overview C. Worship D. Ordination Overture E. Reflective listening F. Administrative Commissions G. Vocational Matters