For the purposes of the WV-WMD Synod Assembly, a distinction is made between the Committee on Resolutions (Resolutions Committee) and the Committee on Reference and Counsel (Reference & Counsel). In addition to the rules that govern committees in general, Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised (RONR) describes the work of the Resolutions Committee, as we intend the term, in RONR §53. RONR §59 relates to the work of Reference & Counsel and is not applicable to our Resolutions Committee.
Our Resolutions Committee serves as the drafting committee of the assembly. If you remember the musical 1776, you will remember the Continental Congress assigning to Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, etc. the task of drafting a resolution declaring independence for the consideration of the assembly. That is a good representation of the work of a drafting committee, the difference being that our Resolutions Committee is not ad hoc, i.e., only assigned to one particular topic. As a standing committee of the assembly, our Resolutions Committee handles the drafting of all resolutions ordered by the assembly and not otherwise assigned to an ad hoc committee. Keep in mind, any member of the assembly may prepare his/her own resolution, but a resolution presented by an individual member is handed over, under our rules, to Reference & Counsel.
As a standing committee of the assembly, the assembly may refer any matter as a topic to the Resolutions Committee with instructions to draft a resolution for the consideration of the assembly. For example, should it come to pass during the course of the assembly’s deliberations that a member of the assembly believes there should be a resolution before the assembly on the purchase of pink flamingo law ornaments by the synod for distribution to all congregations, that member makes a motion on the assembly floor to instruct the Resolutions Committee to draft such a resolution. The member making such a motion may include further instructions for the committee. That motion from the floor would be itself debated by the assembly and possibly amended. If it is adopted, the instructions are referred to the resolutions committee with orders to draft a resolution to that effect. The Resolutions Committee would then meet, at the call of the committee chair, and set about the task of drafting such a resolution. The committee would have the freedom, within the limits of the instructions provided by the assembly, to draft the resolution as it sees fit. It also has the duty to report that it cannot comply if it deems that such a resolution would be illegal. Once it has completed the drafting process, the Resolutions Committee reports to the assembly, presenting the resolution it has drafted. A minority report is possible. That would be an example of a referral to the Resolutions Committee. That has rarely happened, but it can. It can also happen at any point during the assembly’s session.
The Resolutions Committee may, at its discretion, draft any resolution which it believes would further the work of the assembly. For example, if, in the course of debate, there seems to be a mood in the assembly favoring a specific change in the logistics of Synod Assembly, the Resolutions Committee may draft a resolution (without being ordered to do so) to that effect and put it before the assembly for consideration. Such proactive work on the part of the Resolutions Committee can help the assembly (which is often short of members skilled in parliamentary deliberation) find its voice.
The other task of the resolutions committee is the review of reports submitted to the assembly and the generation of such resolutions as may seem appropriate in response. For example, the 2007 Synod Assembly Resolutions Committee drafted a resolution that admonished then Chap. Riegel for the use of too much Latin in his reports, instructing that he include translation aids in the future.
Resolutions Committee is free to draft a “closing resolution,” i.e., a resolution that thanks folks or makes some final comment upon the proceedings of the assembly, but there is no requirement that it do so.
The Resolutions Committee can be one of the most important committees in an assembly. Proper composition of such a committee should include a mix of people. There should be at least one parliamentary geek. There should be at least one person with the sense of the overall working of the synod in relationship to its congregations and a larger Church. There should be at least one word smith. The rest should be people of common sense and ability to listen to what is happening on the floor, to sense the mood of the assembly, and to put it into words.