General Assembly Wrap-Up

Last week the PCA General Assembly met in Memphis, TN. There were lots of important things that happened during the business of the Assembly, as well as outside of business. What follows is a very brief summary of some of the items I think were of particular interest.

This is the PCA’s fiftieth year and it was commemorated throughout the Assembly, in videos that were prepared for the occasion, as well as laminated replicas of the “Letter to Churches” that sort of functions like our Declaration of Independence. It is truly joyous to see God’s faithfulness is preserving a faithful denomination, even with its failures and flaws, in our cultural milieu of secularism and anti-Christian sentiment. We should celebrate our denomination, its tradition, its founding fathers, and commitment to the Bible.

In the Committee on the Report of Presbytery Records (they review each of the 88 presbyteries’ records for the year) a recommendation to cite MNP (Metro New York Presbytery) for failure to properly admonish a church who had a woman preaching within their bounds. The church labeled the service as a “Bible Study” in what appears to be an attempt to circumnavigate the Biblical teaching that precludes a woman to have or exercise authority over a man. The same church also had occasions where the Lord’s Supper was administered without a sermon. The General Assembly (GA) voted to cause the MNY to appear before the Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) to answer questions arising from this situation. What should follow the hearing of the SJC (it’s akin to Supreme Court) is admission of guilt by the presbytery, repentance, and a promise to rectify the situation by charging the church in question with wrong-doing. However, we all know that church discipline doesn’t always lead to the proper response and it is just as likely the church in question doubles down on their error and eventually leaves the denomination instead of repenting–only time will tell.

Other noteworthy items include 3 finalized changes to our BCO:

  1. Victims of Abuse do not have to testify in the presence of their alleged attacker
  2. Qualifications for church officers is amended to include an officer’s understanding of: indwelling sin, actual sin, and progressive sanctification. (16-4. Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. While office bearers will see spiritual perfection only in glory, they will continue in this life to confess and to mortify remaining sins in light of God’s work of progressive sanctification. Therefore, to be qualified for office, they must affirm the sinfulness of fallen desires, the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, and be committed to the pursuit of Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions.)
  3. Ordination requirements and practices for officers to include much of what is stated in the second point, but with a view to our examination practices of men coming forward for office. (In the examination of the nominee’s personal character, the Session/Presbytery shall give specific attention to potential notorious concerns. Careful attention must be given to his practical struggle against sinful actions, as well as to persistent sinful desires. The nominee must give clear testimony of reliance upon his union with Christ and the benefits thereof by the Holy Spirit, depending on this work of grace to make progress over sin (Psalm 103:2-5, Romans 8:29) and to bear fruit (Psalm 1:3, Gal. 5:22-23). While imperfection will remain, when confessing sins and sinful temptations publicly, the nominee must exercise great care not to diminish the seriousness of those sins in the eyes of the congregation, as though they were matters of little consequence, but rather should testify to the work of the Holy Spirit in his progress in holiness (1 Cor. 6:9-11).) 

New overtures of note which passed the GA this year, possibly affecting the BCO:

  1. O23 deals with conforming to biblical sexuality
  2. O26 deals with titles that ought to be reserved for only men ordained to those offices (elder, deacon, pastor, shepherd, etc)

These overtures passed the GA, but now they must pass 2/3 (59) presbyteries, and then pass by a majority in GA next year to change the BCO. They are not in effect as of yet.

There were two noteworthy overtures passed that will not have any effect on the BCO:

  1. O12–the moderator was empowered to form a commission who will write a letter that condemns the practice of sex-reassignment in children with its addressees to include the President of the United States, and federal/state governments. It will put the PCA on record as taking a stance against this ungodly practice.
  2. O28–reaffirm the “Message to All Churches” from 1973 declaring the PCA’s fidelity to Scriptures, the Reformed Tradition, and calls the apostate PC(USA) to repentance.

Many blessings to you all! Thank you for sending me to GA, I am honored to be your pastor and commissioner, I thank God for all of you.