Adventures With God – Part 2 (Autobiography)

The above-mentioned August 1991 materials from the "Acting Clerk" also informed Commissioners for the first time about the existence of a new and undated "Overture VII from Seven [Pro-Women’s Ordination] Members of the Assembly concerning the Ordination of Women.” These materials were received in the mail by Dr. Lee [and presumably also by all other Commissioners] on August 13.

That was just five weeks and two days before the General Assembly would open on September 9. Overture VII demanded it "be presented before consideration of the question of ordination of women is before the Assembly" — and claimed "the question of either prohibiting oradmitting women to theordainedministryisoutsidethejurisdiction oftheGeneral Assembly of Australia."

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Immediately, not I but Rev. Kettniss circulated to some Commissioners a paper over my namereferringinter aliatotheimplicationsofthisnew OvertureVII. NeitherRev.Kettnissnor I attempted — as alleged in a later booklet (titled Whither the Church?! ) circulated by the other side — to "stifle all discussion" of Overture VII. But it seemed very clear to the Conservatives that some of their pro-women's-ordination opponents, having lost not only on the Remits to the Presbyteries but also on the Remits to the State Assemblies, were at the last minute trying to move the goalposts.   Clearly, it promised to be a memorable Assembly!

Indeed, there were yet further developments. Right at the beginning of the General Assembly, the outgoing Moderator-General (who favoured women's ordination) opened the meeting — and the previously-unelected "Acting Clerk" (who favoured women's ordination) solemnlyaffirmedfaithfullyto dischargethedutiesofhisoffice. ThenewModerator-Nominate (a Conservative), who had just recently been hospitalized foraserious health problem, was then inducted into the office of Moderator. Thereupon the unelected Acting Clerk (previously appointed such by theoutgoingModerator),successfullymovedthat theoutgoing Moderatorbe appointed Acting Moderator  — while the new Acting Deputy Clerk moved "that the Assembly express to the Moderator its fraternal concern for him…in his indisposition, and assure him of its prayers for his quick and complete recovery."   Minutes 1 to 9.

Next morning, right after the Assembly Communion Service (where at least six Women Elders are minuted as having officiated), a sudden move was made to remove Rev. Kettniss and myself from the House on the ground that "the privileges of the House had been breached in the light ofdocuments tabled" (viz. thosementioned two paragraphs abovewhichRev.Kettnisshad circulated over my name). The move failed. Then another similar move was made ostensibly to try to prevent some of the Notices of Motion recently submitted (including some by Rev. Kettniss and myself), from being considered.   That move too failed.

That was followed by the defeat of a move to revise the Westminster Confession, and the approval of a Notice of Motion to "rule that the doctrines of any part of the Confession of Faith remain essential to the doctrine therein taught." There were ten dissents, including those by several who had already moved against the conservative party.

The real fireworks started during the Fourth Sederunt. There, the crucial Remit from the Tasmanian General Assembly against the ordination of Women as Ministers was upheld. Attempts to bring on Overture VII before the Remits, failed. The Assembly then approved the protection ofthestatusofwomenalready ordained–withsix ofthepro-women party dissenting! Another attempt was then made to consider Overture VII [of 1991] before the Remits. That attempt was defeated when my own Notice of Motion was then approved "that the Assembly postpone all consideration thereof until after final disposition of the Remit(s) anent Overture 17 of 1988." Two of our opponents then objected their privileges had been breached by the approval of my Notice of Motion, but their objections were not sustained.

Ithensuccessfullymoved(atMinute66)"that theAssembly declarethat thedetermination of the qualifications for the Ministry ofthe Word and Sacraments, is a matter of doctrine" — and spoke to my motion. The competence of the motion was then unsuccessfully challenged. Eleven Commissioners then dissented to the passage of my motion.

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