Summary of the General Assembly of the PCA
I’m thankful to be Presbyterian. Chiefly we have a rich theological history that proudly proclaims the truth of Scriptures and week by week proclaims the Gospel fully and freely. I am thankful for the connectionalism and collected wisdom that comes from having many at different levels of church government. This makes the deliberations at times painfully inefficient but it frees the leadership from being in the hands of a few. That church government takes place on three levels: Session (local level), Presbyteries (regional level), and General Assembly (national level).
Our denomination just concluded its 45th General Assembly (GA) in Greensboro, NC. I was thankful to be able to attend this year and be a voting commissioner on matters presented before the Assembly. I did have to cut my time at GA a half of day short to get back for funeral service that took place the same week. But I got to be a part of most of the business at GA. The major business was to deliberate on the report from the study committee on the role of women in the Church.
Last year the GA voted to form a study committee on the role on women serving in the ministry of the church. I was very skeptical of the intentions of those that were seeking such a committee thinking that you do not make a request for a study unless you are not satisfied with the current state of affairs. Seeing this as an open door to begin the process of women’s ordination. But I have to admit that my skepticism was alleviated when I read the report (the entirety of the report can be found online). I thought the study committee did a thorough and fair study of the issues. Let me tell you some of the highlights and the recommendations that were made.
-The very best of the report was the committees dealing with the relevant Scripture passages. This demonstrated to me that for us as a denomination the Scriptures alone are the sole authority of faith and practice. This is critical. When we begin to be influenced more from social pressures and/or current studies of the day that is when the church goes astray. But the committee stuck to the Scriptures and seemingly asked the question – what would the Word of God say about this subject? I might have had some slightly difference with some of their interpretations but at least it’s a discussion and debate about the Bible and not things extra-biblical.
-I thought the committee did a good job in promoting the complementarian role of men and women and not an egalitarian view. God has made men and women very different – and that is a good thing! When those distinct roles are lost the family, the church, and society as a whole are weakened and not strengthened. The committee I though demonstrated and highlighted the full, rich, and robust role that women have in the church. That there is no lack of opportunities to minister and serve. But they did draw the line at ordination as an officer in the church, which is proper since with the office comes authority (1 Tim. 2:12). The study committee did recommend that churches give women full opportunity to use their gifts and talents as God would have them to be used.
-There were seven recommendations that Assembly adopted from the report. Here is a summary of them:
1) The PCA has a variety of views and ways in which women may serve the Lord and the church, without ordination, and that such mutual respect for said views and practices continue.
2) The church should strive to develop, recognize, and utilize the gifts of women within the church.
3) That sessions, if possible, establish a diaconate of qualified ordained men.
4) That sessions consider how to include non-ordained men and women in the worship of the church.
5) That sessions appoint godly women and men of the congregation to assist the ordained diaconate.
6) That a future Assembly consider the position of commissioned church worker within the PCA for qualified and gifted unordained men and women.
7) The church affirm and include underprivileged and underrepresented women in the PCA.
-I think this study report and recommendations will be well received by churches and presbyterys as a whole. But this far from settles the issue. There is rumor that some will petition the Assembly next year to push for women’s ordination to the diaconate. So we will see.
There were several other business items that were decided but none that seemed to rise to the same interest of this report. A complete summary of all business can be found at www.pcaac.org.
One other item of interest is that the PCA grew by 11 churches nationwide (plus 20 more new church plants) and increased membership by 4k. So we can praise God for a growing church.
Next year the General Assembly will be in Atlanta (June 12-15, 2018) and visitors are always welcome (if so interested!)
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