I returned late Friday night from the Presbyterian Church in America’s 38th General Assembly. I plan on writing about the major aspects in more detail, but offer this post as a quick summary.
First, I always derive great joy from seeing old friends and making new ones. I was able to visit with a great many friends from across the PCA. That included many fellow bloggers on Greenbaggins like Andy Webb, Reed DePace, Jeff Hutchinson, and Wes White, but sadly, Lane couldn’t make it this year. Others included Chris Hutchinson, Rob Berman, Brian Carpenter, Andrew Barnes, Ken Pierce, Art Sartorius and his lovely wife, Ron Gleason, Miguel del Toro and his lovely wife, and Craig Bulkeley. And it’s always a delight to see and fellowship with Wayne Sparkman, Don Clements, John White, Roy Taylor, Grover Gunn, Lig Duncan, Bryan Chapell, Tim Keller, Rick Phillips, Sean Lucas, Dom Aquila, and others. I apologize for leaving many more out. GA is always a great time of fellowship!
I served on the Overtures Committee this year, which is my favorite committee of the many on which I’ve served. I believed that this year would prove interesting and it surely did. More on that in another post. I think that we wisely included our Korean Church brothers in a substantive way. Overall, and I’ll probably say this again, the net result from the committee is that we followed the Hippocratic Oath and did no harm. The sense of congeniality during debates and unanimity at the end refreshed my soul. I was gratified that the Assembly passed all of our recommendations except for one housekeeping recommendation.
The highlight for me this year was Duncan-Keller II. That was a monologue each by Dr. Ligon Duncan and Dr. Tim Keller on why the PCA should stay together. I greatly respect both men and their thoughts, though don’t always agree. In fact, I don’t always agree with myself FWIW. This talk proved particularly enlightening, especially in view of the discussions and results in the Overtures Committee that paused in its deliberations immediately before the presentation. Drs. Duncan’s and Keller’s words gave me, and hopefully others, much to think and pray about.
The debate on the proposed Strategic Plan proved the wisdom of breaking out overtures into a separate committee for debate. This proved to be a retro look at the bad old days of endless parliamentary maneuvering from the floor. We spent something like seven hours moving, debating and voting, with a plethora of recommit motions, several counted votes, and at least one protest. The Assembly finally concluded this piece of business after midnight on Thursday. That had to be some kind of record.
Another highlight was passing the overture to provide ecclesiastical inputs to the current government study on allowing homosexuals to openly serve in the military. This potential change in the law would have profound, even devastating effects on the free exercise of religion by all Christians – chaplains, commanders, and all others serving. I’m very proud that the PCA has answered the call for input to the study and provided top cover for our chaplains, commanders, and others. I spoke on the floor in favor of the overture, elaborating from a former commander’s perspective.
Overall, I believe that this proved to be a good Assembly. It showed that brothers can disagree and remain united in the cause of Christ. I feel refreshed as I look back on the fine fellowship I shared with so many.