Posted by: reformedmusings | June 22, 2009

PCA 37th General Assembly Thoughts

I drove down to Orlando last week for the PCA’s 37th General Assembly. The recession definitely hurt attendance. The PCA usually averages between 1200 and 1400 commissioners at GA. This year we had 1021 registered at the opening. My understanding is that we needed 1000 for a quorum, so we barely made it. We also need about 1250 to break even on the costs, which we did not make.

This will be a general article hitting four highlights, which I hope to follow with several more posts with greater details.

The big news seems to be on the overtures asking for a study committee on the role of women in the PCA. In my and many others’ opinion, this was just a more palatable attempt to get at the issue of deaconesses in the PCA which failed last year. James River and Susquehanna Valley Presbyteries submitted identical overtures calling for a study committee to study the role of women in the church. Coincidence?

The Overtures Committee recommended answering both in the negative by a 40-34-2 margin. After an hour-long debate (see below) over the majority and minority reports from the Overtures Committee, the Assembly voted against a study committee by a narrow 446-427 margin. Your humble blogger spoke on the floor of the GA and voted against the study for reasons that I’ll cover in another post.

I think that the biggest news, however, wasn’t the study committee. For me, the most important news concerned an overture from Central Carolina Presbytery proposing changes to BCO 59.1 and 59.6 on marriage that would bring the BCO into line with WCF 24.1 in emphasizing that marriage is between a man and a woman. The Overtures Committee voted 51-21-3 to answer in the negative because they felt that WCF 24.1 was sufficient on its own, and that the WCF is a higher standard.

Many spoke against this recommendation on the floor of GA, saying that it left military chaplains and pastors in states that have made homosexual marriages legal open to legal challenges. I personally argued that in those states that allow homosexual marriages, the WCF actually conflicts with the BCO because the BCO required following civil law while the WCF would not allow that in those states. The majority of the GA voted to recommit the overture to the committee for reconsideration. The Overtures Committee then perfected the language and presented a recommendation to approve the overture as amended. GA easily approved this recommendation, providing cover for our brothers. A ruling of the moderator, backed up by a vote of the assembly, made the changes effective immediately. More on that later.

The last vote that I thought worthy of note came from my own presbytery and directly affected the debate over the proposed study committee. We put forth an overture to extend debate to an hour in cases involving a minority report. The Assembly approved that overture early in the proceedings, allowing that hour of debate on the study committee.

The evening worship service designs and preaching provided pause to many. To me, the worship and preaching seemed to be designed by the “denominational renewal” folks. I’ll write about this subject in much more detail. In chatting around the GA, I found no one else outside of those who actually participated in the denominational renewal discussions that even knew about this small movement. I’m not impressed with using worship to make political points. The last night’s “sermon” seemed more like a camp meeting speech than an exposition of the Word, the latter taking just a few minutes out of a long and rambling address.

Those are the main points that I found notable this year. More to follow…



  1. […] to study the issue of deaconesses in the PCA which was rejected by the Assembly. As I reported in this post, James River and Susquehanna Valley Presbyteries submitted identical overtures calling for a more […]


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