Dr. Stephen Estock has graciously given Reasoning Together permission to publish his book, A Basic Guide to the PCA General Assembly. To date, we have published Chapter 1 and Chapter 2; today we add Chapter 3. We strongly encourage commissioners (especially  first-time commissioners) to purchase their own copy; you may order here (Kindle edition, here). 

And for a list of common PCA acronyms found in these articles, please click here

III. The PCA Committees and Agencies

“The work of the Church as set forth in the Great Commission is one work, being implemented at the General Assembly level through equally essential committees” (BCO 14-1.3).

Just as the ministry of a local church is accomplished through teams (often called “committees”), the ministry of the General Assembly is also accomplished through the work of members who are elected by the GA to serve in different areas. These committees and agencies (C&As) build a staff, led by a Coordinator or President, who implements the plans of the committee or agency.

There are five permanent committees (BCO 14-1.12; RAO 4-2), whose offices are in Atlanta, GA:

  1. The Administrative Committee (AC) is a service committee that provides the ecclesiastical and administrative functions enabling churches, presbyteries, and the General Assembly to fulfill their ministries.
  2. The Committee on Christian Education and Publications (CEP) is a program committee that connects and equips PCA leaders and members in the area of discipleship ministry to children, youth, and adults.
  3. The Committee on Mission to North America (MNA) is a program committee working to advance God’s Kingdom in North America through church planting, intentional outreach, and mercy ministries.
  4. The Committee on Mission to the World (MTW) is a program committee that serves as the mission sending agency of the PCA, helping to fulfill the Great Commission through word and deed ministries worldwide.
  5. The Committee on Reformed University Ministries (RUM) is a program committee that seeks to spread the gospel by placing PCA ministers on college campuses in order to equip students to live for Christ.

There are also five agencies, whose relationship to the General Assembly is like a committee, but they may be incorporated separately and governed by a unique set of Bylaws (RAO 4-3):

  1. Covenant College (CC) is a four-year educational institution in Lookout Mountain, GA offering accredited bachelor and master degrees.
  2. Covenant Theological Seminary (CTS) is a graduate theological school in St. Louis, MO offering accredited degrees in theology and counseling.
  3. PCA Foundation (PCAF) is a ministry in Atlanta, GA that provides charitable financial services to individuals, families, and churches, including donor-advised funds, endowments, charitable trusts, designated funds, bequest processing, and estate design.
  4. PCA Retirement Benefits, Inc. (RBI) is a ministry in Atlanta, GA to provide life, disability, retirement plan benefits, and a relief fund for PCA ministers, missionaries, and lay employees.
  5. Ridge Haven Conference Center (RH) is a retreat center in Brevard, NC for spiritual and physical refreshment among God’s people.

The work of the General Assembly is also accomplished through a number of Special Committees (RAO 4-4) whose work is facilitated by the Administrative Committee:

  1. Interchurch Relations Committee (IRC) (RAO 8-1) consists of three teaching elders and three ruling elders, along with two alternates, elected by the General Assembly to three-year terms of office. This committee serves as liaison between the PCA and other denominations and church councils as approved by the Assembly.
  2. Committee on Constitutional Business (CCB) (RAO 8-2) consists of four teaching elders and four ruling elders, along with two alternates, elected by the General Assembly to four-year terms of office. This committee gives advice to the PCA Stated Clerk, to presbyteries who submit non-judicial references, and to the General Assembly on business related to the Constitution.
  3. Theological Examining Committee (TEC) (BCO 14-1.14; RAO 8-3) consists of three teaching elders and three ruling elders, along with two alternates, elected by the Assembly to three-year terms of office. The committee examines all first and second level administrative officers of committees, boards, and agencies (e.g., Coordinators, Presidents, Vice-Presidents, etc.) before they begin work or move on the field.
  4. Nominating Committee (NC) (BCO 14-1.11; RAO 8-4) consists of elders elected by each Presbytery (one representative per presbytery, rotating between ruling and teaching elders) for a three-year term. This committee presents a slate of nominations to the Assembly from a list of names submitted by the Presbyteries.
  5. Committee on Review of Presbytery Records (CRPR or RPR) (RAO 8-5) consists of elders elected by each Presbytery (one representative per presbytery, rotating between ruling and teaching elders) for a three-year term. This committee reviews the records of each Presbytery to ensure that proceedings have been correctly recorded and in accordance with the Constitution; whether those proceedings have been wise, equitable, and suited to promote the welfare of the Church; and whether the lawful injunctions of the Assembly have been obeyed.

Over the history of the PCA, the General Assembly has created other committee to address various issues and needs:

Cooperative Ministries Committee (CMC) (RAO 7)

This committee was formed in 2006 and consists of the chairmen and chief administrative officers of the General Assembly permanent committees and agencies. The current GA Moderator and immediate past five moderators are advisors. This committee meets to foster cooperative ministry among the committees and agencies and consider matters referred to it by the Assembly.

Ad Interim Committees (RAO 9)

From time to time, the General Assembly may elect or appoint ad interim or study committees of a temporary nature to handle particular matters of business. Only two ad interim study committees may be appointed or continued in any given year, and the total number of members per committee cannot exceed seven.  In forming an ad interim committee, the Assembly must also state how the committee will be funded.

The Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) (BCO 15-4; RAO 17)

In 1988, the Assembly gave final approval to BCO amendments that created the Standing Judicial Commission, a body sometimes referred to as the “PCA Supreme Court.” A commission differs from an ordinary committee in that “a committee is appointed to examine, consider, and report,” but “a commission is authorized to deliberate upon and conclude the business referred to it” (BCO 15-1). The SJC deals with all matters governed by the Rules of Discipline (BCO chapters 27-46), and in most cases, the decision of the SJC shall be the final decision of the General Assembly. The Commission is comprised of 12 teaching elders and 12 ruling elders who are elected by the Assembly to four-year terms. The SJC has oversight of appeals, complaints, and judicial references from lower courts. Decisions of the Commission are reported to the Assembly, the minutes of the Committee are reviewed by the Committee on Constitutional Business (CCB).