General Assembly Preview 2023

Well, it’s that time of year again church family: General Assembly! It’s the Super Bowl of Presbyterianism, or maybe more like the NBA finals with the potential for brawling, not really, we always do things decently and in order.

For those of you who don’t know what General Assembly is I’ll do my best to explain it briefly. PCA churches are organized under the leadership of a session and those congregations are represented by the sessions in regional bodies called presbyteries. This is very much like local government officials representing their localities at the state level. Presbyteries meet at least two times per year as required by our BCO (Book of Church Order ), though every presbytery I’ve been a member of has met four times. Once per year each session is permitted to send representatives of their session and congregation to General Assembly based on how many members are in the congregation. Kiski Valley is permitted to send two Ruling Elders along with their Teaching Elder (yours truly), these representatives are called commissioners.

General Assembly is where the commissioners do the business of the denomination on a national level. There are committee meetings for all of our national agencies: Mission to the World (MTW), Mission to North America (MNA), Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), Discipleship Ministries (CDM), Covenant College (St. Louis, Mo.), Covenant Seminary (Lookout Mtn., Ga.), PCA Foundation (benevolent giving administration), Geneva Benefits Group (insurance and retirement), Ridgehaven (the denomination’s camp in Brevard, NC). The committees at General Assembly review records and vote on important matters related to the functioning of the agency. There is an Administrative Committee that coordinates all of the General Assembly business.

Some of the most important work of the Assembly is found in the overtures that are sent up from the presbyteries petitioning some kind of action from the General Assembly. the most important ones deal with asking the Assembly to change the constitution of the church (the PCA’s constitution is defined as the BCO, the Westminster Confession of Faith, Shorter Catechism and Larger Catechism), most often the overtures deal with changing the BCO rather than the Confession.

As a preview to the business of the General Assembly, I am going to write this week about some of the overtures coming up from the presbyteries, which I think are most important or at least may cause some debate.

Here are some links that might help you out:

  1. Overtures
  2. Here’s a helpful resource that two pastors prepared concerning the overtures
  3. You can view the docket, schedule, and variety of other facts on this page

I’m leaving Sunday after lunch for Memphis and very much appreciate your prayers for safety, wisdom, and winsomeness. It’s been my practice for several years to go early so that I can listen to the Overtures Committee (OC) debate and refine the wording of the overtures that sent to the Assembly floor–it gives me a better sense of the intention of the overture and it’s pros and cons.

In the next post I’ll explain a little about the process of an overture in General Assembly and then discuss one or two of the overtures themselves.