Northwest Georgia Presbytery has sent Overture 4 to the General Assembly. The overture seeks to add an 11th paragraph to Chapter 24 of the Book of Church Order (BCO), specifying that that men only may be ordained as elders or deacons.

Currently, paragraphs 1-10 of BCO Chapter 24 describes the “Election, Ordination, and Installation of Ruling Elders and Deacons.” Northwest Georgia’s proposed addition reads: “We are deeply convinced of the clarity of Scripture on this topic and as such we consider the doctrine of ordination for elders and deacons as limited only to males as an essential component to our ecclesiology.”

According to Teaching Elder Ted Lester, the overture was birthed over concern about what he sees as “escalating efforts of those who have come to believe we must be open to admission of women to offices of the PCA.” In Lester’s view, the Cooperative Ministries Committee, with the formation of a study committee on women in ministry “with proviso for verbiage to change the BCO,” is the latest instance of such efforts.

Consequently, the overture itself states that it is being offered now as “one way to address potential proposals to amend the BCO regarding women’s ordination.”

Overture 4 was referred to the Overtures Committee (OC), and to the Committee on Constitutional Business (CCB) for its advice concerning its consistency with the Constitution. The CCB has advised the OC that this proposal is in conflict with the Constitution. Specifically, the CCB argues that the phrase “an essential component to our ecclesiology” should not be added as a component that is “fundamental to our system of doctrine”, the language used in  BCO 21-4.e and 21-4.f., which define the procedure for processing differences a candidate for ordination may have with the PCA’s doctrinal Standards. In its opinion, the CCB states, “The BCO is not the document where our doctrinal standards are defined.”