Report on the 49th General Assembly of the PCA
July 15, 2022 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Church Updates
Last week Pastor John, Bill Burns, Bret Willoughby, and I attended our denomination’s 49th General Assembly in Birmingham, AL. This is an annual meeting of representatives from the churches of the PCA to deliberate over matters that concern our denomination as a whole. Our denominational magazine, byFaith, provides a full report of the actions of GA on their website. You are welcome to read that (and ask questions), but I wanted to share some of the highlights here.
- GA received the report from the ad interim study committee on Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault. This committee was formed by the 47th General Assembly in 2019 to “provide resources to God's people to help and encourage them respond well in cases of abuse in the church.” Their report is excellent and thorough and will be a valuable resource for the leaders of our church. You can check out the committee’s website for more information and to read the full report yourself.
- GA voted to withdraw the PCA from the National Association of Evangelicals. Concerns have grown over the increased political advocacy of the NAE, and many believe there is little value in remaining in such an association.
- As I read on Sunday, GA voted to send this statement about abortion to federal and state government officials:
“God declares in Sacred Scripture that civil government, no less than the Church, is a divine institution and owes its authority to God. The Bible is the supreme revelation of God's will and teaches that the unborn child is a human person deserving the full protection of the Sixth Commandment, ‘You shall not murder.’ We who love our nation, in the name of God who alone is sovereign, call upon you to renounce the sin of abortion, to repent of the complicity in the mass slaughter of innocent unborn children, who are persons in the sight of God, and to reverse the ruinous direction of both law and practice in this area. The obedience to God which places us in subjection to your rightful authority, requires of us to proclaim the counsel of God as it bears upon the same God-given authority.”
- Several amendments to the Book of Church Order were approved. The process to amend the BCO also requires 2/3 of the Presbyteries and the following GA to approve the amendments. So these amendments are still in process. I’ll highlight one area that has garnered a lot of attention in recent years, namely, how to understand the requirement of church officers to be “above reproach” in light of the sexual revolution and other notorious sins. One proposed amendment would add the following language that would spell out what is required of elders and deacons in the church:
“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 temptation, inclinations, and actions.” (to be inserted as BCO 16-4)
Another amendment gives direction on how to examine officer candidates in light of this language. Still another amendment seeks to state that “men who describe themselves as homosexual” are disqualified from serving as officers in the PCA. Several other amendments to the BCO related to procedures were also approved. Again, byFaith has a full account of all these actions taken by GA.
- Over the two and a half days, many other items were addressed by GA. Three worship services were held. Committee reports were given on behalf of the denomination’s agencies (e.g. Covenant College, Covenant Seminary, Mission to the World, Mission to North America, Reformed University Fellowship, etc.). It was an encouraging time to hear all these ministry reports of God’s work in and through our denomination. Next year GA will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the PCA during its gathering in Memphis, TN.
One of the benefits of the Presbyterian form of government is our connectionalism within our Presbytery and General Assembly. We are able to do more by working together. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about what is happening on the Presbytery or General Assembly levels.