This year Paul Koeppel, Dan Rhodes, and I went as our congregation’s representatives to the PCA’s General Assembly in Houston, TX. What follows is a report of the highlights from our perspective.
The 42nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA, our denomination) was held in Houston, TX June 17-19 this year and was largely uncontroversial, gathering very little national media attention. However, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (the largest and theologically liberal Presbyterian denomination) being held in Detroit, MI on June 14-21 this year, gathered a good deal of media attention due to their official sanctioning of same-sex marriage and permitting their ministers to perform ceremonies for such unions. This has caused a little confusion, which we hope this report will bring clarity where there was any misunderstanding.
Nevertheless, at the PCA’s General Assembly (GA), there were three main issues of great interest: (1) Protecting Children in the PCA (2) Insider Movements in Missionary activities reaching out to Muslim-dominant cultures (3) Overture 43 – Historically the PCA has embraced the biblical view on marriage, homosexual practice, and pro-life issues. The 42nd GA did not see the need to strengthen our stand or change them.
- Overture 6 (click here to read the full text), written by the Georgia Foothills Presbytery, defined the problem of child abuse that haunts the American church and offered several resolutions reminding churches of their responsibilities to take measures to protect the children in their charge and the biblical role given to civil authorities to punish those guilty of child abuse. This overture was enthusiastically received by GA and was approved very easily.
- A study committee on Insider Movements within Islam has studied this issue for several years, starting with the 39th GA (2012). The 2013 GA approved Part 1 of the study committees report and this year’s GA approved Part 2 along with the recommendations of the committee. This was a declaration from the PCA that Insider Movements, in their most poignant forms, are not faithful to the whole of holy scripture and are to be rejected as valid Christian missionary activity. If anyone wishes to read a twelve-page summary of the 300+ page report, click here and scroll down to page 2113.
- Overture 43 “Expression of Support for Sanctity of Life and Marriage”, though it was not adopted by the GA, the following minority report was submitted from the floor and was passed and adopted by GA:
Be it resolved that the Presbyterian Church in America expresses its gratitude to the Lord for sustaining by His grace ministers of the gospel, chaplains, and Christians serving in the public sphere who are experiencing ostracism, penalties, and persecution for taking a Biblically faithful stand for the sanctity of human life and declining to participate in the cultural redefinition of marriage; and
Be it further resolved that the General Assembly pause and offer prayer to the Lord on behalf of such ministers of the gospel, chaplains, and Christians.
If you wish to read a summary of the PCA’s past actions pertaining to the issue of homosexual practice, please click here.
I know that all three of us would like to thank MRPC for allowing us to represent them. It is always a time of learning at Seminars and from each other. GA also allows us to see how our GA functions. It is a time to get to know your fellow elders better and to talk with other elders from around the world.