General Assembly Updates

While many of us will be at camp at the end of June, the General Assembly of the PCA will be meeting in Dallas, TX.  Next week I will be putting together a prayer guide for GA, and I encourage you to keep our Denomination in your prayers.  There is a lot of good happening in the PCA, but there are many areas of concern as our Church seeks to be a faithful witness in a fallen world. 

Today I’d like to give an update on the overtures that will come before the Assembly. In all there are 47 Overtures to the General Assembly, coming from the Presbyteries of the PCA.  The business of the overtures can range from making improvements to the Church’s Constitution to calling for Study Committees or making formal resolutions.  

Here is a brief breakdown of the overtures coming before the General Assembly:

There are 11 Overtures that address the issues of Human Sexuality, Sexual Orientation, and Sexual Identity. This has been a continuing conversation within the Church: how do we present the gospel in a day when the world around us has all but completely abandoned Biblical views of humanity and sexual morality?  These overtures call for study committees to address concerns of recent actions in the Church, for the affirmation of previous statements supporting the Biblical teaching on sexuality, or for the acceptance of statements made by other Reformed bodies.

There are 9 overtures calling for a study committee on Domestic Abuse. According to ByFaith magazine, these overtures “call attention to pastoral resources that explore the nature of [domestic abuse and sexual assault] and offer help for victims of them, to propose best practices and policy guidelines to protect against these sins and respond to them, and to consider proposing changes to the Rules of Discipline that might more appropriately protect victims within a biblical process.”  Study Committees, if formed, are tasked by the Assembly to study the particular issue at hand and make recommendations to the following Assembly.  Those recommendations can be received and acted upon, or can simply be noted without taking any action.

7 overtures were presented calling for a change in our constitution that would allow for non-ordained persons to serve on Boards of the Church.  Under the current Constitutional provisions for Governing Boards and Agencies of the PCA (ie. seminaries, colleges, investments) only ordained Elders and Deacons are allowed to serve on behalf of the Assembly.  If approved, these Constitutional changes would allow for non-ordained persons, women, to serve on the boards of Church institutions.

Surprisingly, there are only 2 Overtures regarding the Church’s teaching on abortion.  The Church has held a clear Biblical teaching on abortion, but it is disappointing that such a pressing issue in our nation get such little attention by the Church.

Several other overtures seek to clarify the constitution, or make subtle changes in the Rules of Assembly Operations, what I like to call “rearranging the deck furniture.”

If you’d like more information about the overtures coming before GA, you can visit the PCA Administrative Committee Website here.  You can also read more about GA at the ByFaith magazine online, or at the PCA General Assembly website.

It is important to remember the process of overtures before the GA.  The majority of overtures are sent to the Overtures Committee where they will be debated, refined, or even combined with similar overtures, and recommendations will be made to the Assembly. Some overtures are referred to the permanent committees or agency boards because they relate to their work. These committees or agencies formulate their own recommendations on such overtures and, like the OC, may recommend that the Assembly answer it in the affirmative, propose amendments, or reject it by answering it in the negative. The whole Assembly then votes on the Overtures that come from the committees.  Any Overture that would change the Constitution of the church which passes the Assembly must then be ratified by 2/3rd majority of the Presbyteries before the changes take effect.

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