PCA GA 50: Summary of 20 Key Events & Highlights

By Ruling Elder Kevin Miller & Pastor George Sayour

The Presbyterian Church in America just completed its Jubilee Assembly in Memphis, TN!  This 50th General Assembly on this 50th Anniversary year was a God-Glorifying, Christ-Exalting, Body-Edifying Time to say the least.  It was a week full of the joy of the Lord in our worship and work. The week flew by as we reconnected with old friends and made new ones. We’d say that this GA was a statement on Transparency and Accountability as many of these items will show.

Here are the Top 20 Key Actions or Impressions of the 50th PCA GA

  • (loosely in the order they came to the Assembly).
  • While long, It is the same list 2x; 1st in summary, 2nd in Detail w/text and links. 
  • This Article is discussed in Video & Podcast on Presbyterian & Reformed Churchmen

1) TE Fred Greco was Nominated Moderator

Implication: Fred lived up to his reputation. He ran the Assembly with precision, wit, humor, and gravitas. The assembly ended earlier on Thursday than others in recent history.  A motion was made to make Fred the Permanent Moderator for GA.  Fred ruled the motion out of order.  😉

2) Abuse Victim Protection Provisions (last year’s Overture 2021-40)

  • Passed Presbyteries: 77-3, Passed GA near unanimously
  • Implication: Victims of Abuse don’t have to testify in the presence of their abuser.

3) Qualifications for Church Office (last year’s Overture 29)

  • Passed Presbyteries 79-1, Passed GA near unanimously
  • Implication: An Officer’s view of Indwelling Sin, Actual Sin, and Sanctification matter

4) Ordination Requirements and Procedures (last year’s Overture 31)

  • Passed Presbyteries 77-3, Passed GA near unanimously
  • Implication: Candidates view of Indwelling Sin, Actual Sin, and Sanctification matter

5) Overture 7 – Improved Reporting Requirements for Agencies and Committees

  • Passed 1271-88, Goes into effect immediately
  • Effects MNA, MTW, RUF, Covenant College, Covenant Seminary, etc.
  • Implication: There will be more transparency and accountability for the PCA’s Agencies and Committees. This helps ensure they are operating according to the desires of the Assembly.

6) Metro NY Presbytery Referred to the SJC for allowing a Woman to Preach

  • This came out of the RPR Report (Review of Presbytery Records)
  • Implication: Our System Works. Women Preachers are not allowed at Worship Services.

7) NW Georgia Presbytery Referred to the SJC for Congregational Meeting Delinquencies

  • This came out of the RPR Report (Review of Presbytery Records)
  • Implication: Our System Works. Following the process of Congregational meetings matters.

8) RUF Affiliation Agreement was flagged because it was not approved by the Assembly

  • Reformed University Fellowship will need to rework the Contract for approval next year.
  • Implication: Agencies and Permanent Committees need GA Approval on Major Policy changes.

9) Nominating Committee Recommendations – All Were Approved by the Assembly

  • Great Men were added to the SJC, MNA, MTW, RUF, Covenant College and Covenant Seminary, and other Agency Boards and Permanent Committees.
  • Implication: PCA Agencies and Permanent Committees will have good guidance and oversight.

10) Overture 23 – Requiring Officers Conformity to Biblical Standards of Sexuality

  • Passed (1673-223). This must now pass 2/3 of the Presbyteries this year.
  • Implication: Church officers must communicate their sin struggle according to the Biblical standard for chastity and sexual purity.

11) Overture 26 – Titles for Officers must Not be Used for Unordained People

  • Passed (1427-481). This must now pass 2/3 of the Presbyteries this year.
  • Implication: This clarifies how terms for our church offices are used and restricts them to only those who have been ordained according to Scripture as described in our Standards.

12) Overture 12 – Condemning Practice of Surgical & Medical Gender Reassignment Statement

  • Passed (1089-793). This takes effect immediately. Will be mailed to Federal & State Governments.
  • Implication: This will put the PCA on public record as taking a stance against transgender reassignment surgeries. Having a denominational stance on this issue can potentially benefit Christians in the public sphere when they may be required to take a stance against this evil.

13) Overture 28 – Reaffirm the “Message to All Churches” from 1973

  • Passed (1158-143), takes effect immediately
  • Implication: This statement reaffirms the PCA’s 1973 so-called Declaration of Independence, showing our resolve to be faithful to our foundational principle and calling our mother denomination, the PC(USA), to repentance.

14) Overture 14 –Attempt that would Hinder PCA Lawyers from Aiding in PCA Courts

  • Voted down by the Assembly (unanimous as part of larger vote)
  • Implication: This preserves that professional lawyers can participate in the church courts without undue restrictions. The language of the proposal would have severely restricted the ability of those members and elders in the legal profession from aiding members in Church Discipline cases. Language in BCO already prohibits paid counsel.

15) Overture 13 – Attempt to allow atheists to testify in the Church courts

  • Voted down by the Assembly (1091-751)
  • Implication: This maintains the current BCO language which requires a belief in “the existence God or a future state of rewards and punishments” in order to testify in the Church courts

16) Overture 15 – Attempt to Clarify that Women Cannot Preach to Assembled Christians

  • Voted by the Assembly to refer back to the Overture’s authors (1725-139)
  • Implication: The decision to “refer back’ indicates the Assembly’s desire to address the subject of women preaching, but they would like the authors to refine and clarify the language before resubmitting the overture.

17) Wonderful Worship Services, Sermons, and Exhortations for our 50th Year

  • Ligon Duncan’s Call to “Stand Strong in the Lord or You will Fear Man” During His Sermon
  • O. Palmer Robertson’s Call to Be Ministers who Stand on and Preach the Word of God from the Bible and to Present Christ’s Bride Sanctified before Christ.

18) The Gospel Reformation Network Luncheon & its Honoring of the Late Dr. Harry Reeder

  • Over 700 people were present. This represents approx. 1/3 of the whole Assembly.
  • Shows a Commitment to the GRN Vision “To Cultivate Healthy Reformed Churches in the Presbyterian Church in America.”

 19) The Administrative Committee and Host Committee Did a Wonderful Job!

  • Thank you to all involved in making PCA GA 50 a Christ-honoring success in Memphis, TN!

20) All indications lead us to believe that the PCA is heading in the right direction.

  • The last 3 General Assemblies have shown that Transparency, Accountability, and Faithfulness are increasing.
  • Our Membership, Pastors, RUF Chapters, Church Plants, and Missionaries are all growing in #.
  • Read the 0201 Stated Clerk’s Report to GAf or a summary of highlights.
  • May we remain Faithful to the Scriptures, True to the Reformed Faith, and Obedient to the Great Commission.

________________________________________

BELOW ARE THE SUPPORTING DETAILS ON EACH OF THE ABOVE # ITEMS

1) TE Fred Greco was Nominated Moderator – See Video (starts 6:50)

Implication: Fred lived up to his reputation. He ran the Assembly with precision, wit, humor, and gravitas. The assembly ended earlier on Thursday than others in recent history.  A motion was made to make Fred the Permanent Moderator for GA.  Fred ruled the motion out of order.  😉

———-

NOTE: The 2022 Overtures that passed 2/3 of the Presbyteries were approved by GA

*An  Overture is a request for a decision or action of the General Assembly, many of which involve changes to the Constitution.   All of the Constitutional Overtures that passed last year’s Assembly passed the Presbyteries except Oveture 8 & 15.  All of those were Ratified at this year’s General Assembly.

Implication: Key provisions were added to our Constitution that address issues of human sexuality, sanctification, ordination of officers, and protection for victims of abuse.

All of Last Year’s Overtures can be found in the 2023 Handbook , Page 211 – 238 #s , Doc pages 101-128

There are 3 Changes that We’d like to highlight here:

———-

2) Overture 2021-40, Item 8 Abuse Victim Protection Provisions (2023 Handbook , 227-230)

  • Passed Presbyteries: 77-3, Passed GA near unanimously
  • Implication: Victims of Abuse don’t have to testify in the presence of their abuser.

35-3. A court may, at the request of either party, or at its own initiative, make reasonable accommodation to prevent in-person contact with the accused:

    1. The court may have testimony taken by videoconference. The videoconference shall employ technical means that ensure that all persons participating in the meeting can see and hear each other at the same time, and which allows for live cross-examination by both parties.
    2. The court may restrict the accused from appearing on the videoconference screen, and when the accused is represented by counsel (BCO 32-19), cross-examination shall be conducted by that counsel.
    3. In all cases where such accommodation has been made, videoconference testimony by witnesses under the age of 18 shall be taken by written interrogatory to be read to the witness by a person appointed by the court in accordance with the applicable provisions of BCO 35-11.
    4. The court shall include in the record of the proceedings its reasons for this accommodation and any objection from either party.

3) 2022 Ov29, Item 4: Qualifications for Church Office (2023 Handbook , 218-219)

  • Passed Presbyteries 79-1, Passed 2023 GA near unanimously
  • Implication: An Officer’s view of Indwelling Sin, Actual Sin, and Sanctification matter

Here is the language that was approved:

BCO 16.4. 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 temptations, inclinations, and actions.

4) 2022 Ov 31, Item 5: Ordination Requirements and Procedures (2023 Handbook , 220-222)

  • Passed Presbyteries 77-3, Passed 2023 GA near unanimously
  • Implication: Candidates view of Indwelling Sin, Actual Sin, and Sanctification matter

Here is the language that was approved:

BCO 21. 9 4. 1. In the examination of the candidate’s personal character, the presbytery shall give specific attention to potential notorious concerns. Careful attention must be given to his practical struggle against sinful actions, as well as to persistent sinful desires. The candidate must give clear testimony of reliance upon his union with Christ and the benefits thereof by the Holy Spirit, depending on this work of grace to make progress over sin (Psalm 103:2-5, Romans 8:29) and to bear fruit (Psalm 1:3, Gal. 5:22-23). While imperfection will remain, when confessing sins and sinful temptations publicly, the candidate must exercise great care not to diminish the seriousness of those sins in the eyes of the congregation, as though they were matters of little consequence, but rather should testify to the work of the Holy Spirit in his progress in holiness (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

Reletter current paragraphs 21-4.e-h to 21-4.f-i.  (Also see similar changes/additions to BCO 24.1)

———-

 

5) 2023 Overture 7 – Improved Reporting Requirements for Agencies and Committees

  • Overtures Committee Report, p. 109-
  • Passed 1271-88, Goes into effect immediately
  • Effects MNA, MTW, RUF, Covenant College, Covenant Seminary, etc.
  • Implication: There will be more transparency and accountability for the PCA’s Agencies and Committees. This helps ensure they are operating according to the desires of the Assembly.

The PCA has Committees and Agencies (such as MNA, MTW, RUF, Covenant College, Covenant Seminary, etc.) that have their own boards and permanent committees that make operational decisions and policy changes all year long.  These groups are accountable to the General Assembly who exercise review and control over these arms of the denomination.  Here is the change that has been added to our Rule of Assembly Operations.  This does not need to be approved by the Presbyteries.

Here is the text that was added:

Be it resolved that RAO 4-21.d be amended by adding paragraph (4) as follows:

    1. A recording of information sufficient to demonstrate the Committee’s or Board’s implementation of instructions received from General Assembly and of material policies and material policy changes adopted by the Committee or Board in that year.

6) Metro NY Presbytery Referred to the SJC for allowing a Woman to Preach

  • This came from the RPR Report as a Recommendation that passed.
  • Implication: Our System Works. Women Preachers are not allowed at Worship Services.
  • Our Summary:

A Church in Metro New York Presbytery had a woman Episcopalian Pastor preach at a Sunday Morning Worship Service.  The Presbytery investigated the matter through a 31-2 investigation request that came into the presbytery.  The Church explained that the woman didn’t preach but rather she exhorted and that it wasn’t at a worship service but rather it was a Bible Study.  The evidence shows that the message this woman gave was during the Sunday morning worship time and was called a sermon on the website. Additionally, Communion was celebrated following the sermon.

7) NW Georgia Presbytery Referred to the SJC for Congregational Meeting Delinquencies

  • This came from the RPR Report as a Recommendation that passed.
  • Implication: Our System Works. Following the process of Congregational meetings matters.
  • Our Summary:

Whatever the Presbytery did or didn’t do is reflected in their minutes and was flagged by Review of Presbytery Records in the past. The Issue is still not rectified and NW Georgia Presbytery will now have to appear before the SJC.

8) RUF Affiliation Agreement was flagged because it was not approved by the Assembly

  • RUF-Affiliation Agreement , See Page 6 specifically.
  • Reformed University Fellowship will need to rework the Contract for approval next year.
  • Implication: Agencies and Permanent Committees need GA Approval on Major Policy changes.
  • Our Summary:

Reformed University Fellowship created a major new policy change, formalizing the relationship between their RUF Chapters, the RUF Ministers, and the Presbyteries where they serve.  This went into effect without approval of the General Assembly and there are many Concerns with it. For instance, RUF retains the ability to Fire and Relocate their Ministers in Presbyteries without Presbytery input.  The Assembly is requiring RUF to work this out and to present their new policy for approval next year.

9) Nominating Committee Recommendations – All Were Approved by the Assembly

  • See the Nominating Committee Report for all of their Recommendations.
  • Great Men were added to the SJC, MNA, MTW, RUF, Covenant College and Covenant Seminary, and other Agency Boards and Permanent Committees.
  • Implication: PCA Agencies and Permanent Committees will have good guidance and oversight.

10) Overture 23 – Requiring Officers Conformity to Biblical Standards of Sexuality

  • Overtures Committee Report, p. 112-113 on the document.
  • Passed (1673-223). This must now pass 2/3 of the Presbyteries this year.
  • Overtures 9, 16, 17, 24 were answered in reference to this one.
  • Implication: Church officers must communicate their sin struggle according to the Biblical standard for chastity and sexual purity.

Here is the Language that will go to the Presbyteries:

Therefore, be it resolved that The Book of Church Order Chapter 8-2 be amended 2 to insert a new sentence as follows: (this applies to the office of Elder)

8-2. He that fills this office should possess a competency of human learning and be blameless in life, sound in the faith and apt to teach. He should exhibit a sobriety and holiness of life becoming the Gospel. He should conform to the biblical requirement of chastity and sexual purity in his descriptions of himself, and in his convictions, character, and conduct. He should rule his own house well and should have a good report of them that are outside the Church.

Similar language was added to BCO 9-2 for the office of Deacon.

11) Overture 26 – Titles for Officers must Not be Used for Unordained People

  • Overtures Committee Report, p. 114 on the document.
  • Passed (1427-481). This must now pass 2/3 of the Presbyteries this year.
  • Implication: This clarifies how terms for our church offices are used and restricts them to only those who have been ordained according to Scripture as described in our Standards.

Here is what will now go to the Presbyteries:

Therefore be it resolved, that BCO 7-3 be amended by adding the following sentence (underlining for addition):

7-3. No one who holds office in the Church ought to usurp authority therein, or receive official titles of spiritual preeminence, except such as are employed in the Scripture. Furthermore, unordained people shall should not be referred to as, or given the titles connected to, the ecclesial offices of pastor, elder, or deacon.

12) Overture 12 – Condemning Practice of Surgical & Medical Gender Reassignment Statement

  • Overtures Committee Report, p. 112-113 on the document.
  • Passed (1089-793). This takes effect immediately. Will be mailed to Federal & State Governments.
  • Implication: This will put the PCA on public record as taking a stance against transgender reassignment surgeries. Having a denominational stance on this issue can potentially benefit Christians in the public sphere when they may be required to take a stance against this evil.

Here is what was Commissioned:

That Overture 12 from Evangel Presbytery (“Petition Government to End Sex-change Procedures for Minors,” p. 55) be answered by empowering the Moderator to appoint a commission to draft a humble petition (WCF 31-4), which the PCA Stated Clerk shall send to the President of the United States, the majority and minority party leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice of the United States; and recommend the Presbytery Clerks to send the petition to the Governors, the majority and minority party leaders in the State Legislatures, and the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Courts in their regions, condemning the practice of surgical and medical gender reassignment, especially of minors.

13) Overture 28 – Reaffirm the “Message to All Churches” from 1973

  • Overture 28 as Submitted & Here is the 1973 Statement
  • Passed (1158-143), takes effect immediately
  • Implication: This statemen reaffirms the PCA’s 1973 so-called Declaration of Independence, showing our resolve to be faithful to our foundational principle and call our mother denomination, the PC(USA), to repentance.

Here is What was approved:

Therefore, be it resolved that the 50th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America declare the “Message to All Churches” a faithful expression of Biblical polity which shaped the founding of the PCA in 1973. And

Therefore, the General Assembly directs its Stated Clerk to send this letter the “Message to All Churches” to the Presbyterian Church (USA) via its Stated Clerk as a communication from a loving daughter to a prodigal mother.

14) Overture 14 –Attempt to Hinder PCA Members who are Lawyers from Aiding in PCA Courts

  • Original Overture 14 & Overture 10 was answered in reference to 14.
  • Voted down by the Assembly (unanimous as part of larger vote)
  • Implication: This preserves that professional lawyers can participate in the church courts without undue restrictions. The language of the proposal would have severely restricted the ability of those members and elders in the legal profession from aiding members in Church Discipline cases. Language in BCO already prohibits paid counsel.

15) Overture 13 – Attempt to Allow atheists to testify in the Church courts

  • Original Overture 13
  • Voted down by the Assembly (1091-751)
  • Implication: This maintains the current BCO language which requires a belief in “the existence God or a future state of rewards and punishments” in order to testify in the Church courts

16) Overture 15 – Attempt to Codify that Women Cannot Preach to Assembled Christians in the PCA

  • Voted by the Assembly to refer back to the Overture’s authors (1725-139)
  • Implication: The decision to “refer back’ indicates the Assembly’s desire to address the subject of women preaching, but they would like the authors to refine and clarify the language before resubmitting the overture.

Language that was Submitted and Referred Back:

BCO 53  7. No woman shall preach, exhort, or teach at a public worship assembly, including assemblies or chapel services where men are present in any congregation, educational institution, or gathering overseen by the Church or one of its agencies.

17) Wonderful Worship Services, Sermons, and Exhortations for our 50th Year

  • All Videos of Worship, the Assembly, and Seminar
  • Ligon Duncan’s Call to “Stand Strong in the Lord or You will Fear Man” During His Sermon
  • O. Palmer Robertson’s Call to Be Ministers who Stand on and Preach the Word of God from the Bible and to Present Christ’s Bride Sanctified before Christ.

18) The Gospel Reformation Network Luncheon & its Honoring of the Late Dr. Harry Reeder

  • Gospel Reformation Network
  • Over 700 people were present. This represents approx. 1/3 of the whole Assembly.
  • Shows a Commitment to the GRN Vision “To Cultivate Healthy Reformed Churches in the Presbyterian Church in America.”

 19) The Administrative Committee and Host Committee Did a Wonderful Job!

  • Thank you to all involved in making PCA GA 50 a Christ-honoring success in Memphis, TN!

20) All indications lead us to believe that the PCA is heading in the right direction.

  • The last 3 General Assemblies have shown that Transparency, Accountability, and Faithfulness are increasing.
  • Our Membership, Pastors, RUF Chapters, Church Plants, and Missionaries are all growing in #.
  • Read the 0201 Stated Clerk’s Report to GA  for a summary of highlights.
  • May we remain Faithful to the Scriptures, True to the Reformed Faith, and Obedient to the Great Commission.

For Another Great Update which includes more editorial, read my Friend TE Ryan Biese’s Report on the PCA’s Jubilee.

Watch Ruling Elder Kevin Miller and Pastor George Sayour Discuss the Above Points:

George Sayour
George Sayour

George is Senior Pastor of Meadowview Reformed Presbyterian
Church (PCA) in Lexington, NC. When he's not pastoring or writing, he's fishing, kayaking and spending time with his family.

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