A Summary of the Actions of the 51st General Assembly
By Megan Fowler

The Assembly was convened on Tuesday evening with 2,160 commissioners, making this the third-largest Assembly in PCA history. Ruling Elder Steve Dowling of Southeast Alabama Presbytery was elected moderator. He was elected by acclamation. Click here to read more about Dowling.

The Assembly voted by voice vote to approve amendments to BCO 7-3, 8-2, 9-3 and 38-1. These BCO amendments were first approved by the 50th General Assembly and then ratified by at least two-thirds of the presbyteries.

The Assembly heard several partial reports, including a partial report from the Overtures Committee regarding proposed changes to the Rules of Assembly Operation. The Assembly voted to accept the recommendations from the Overtures Committee on Overtures 7, 14, and 28. Read more about those overtures here.

The Assembly also heard reports from the Cooperative Ministries Committee, Committee on Constitutional Business, and Theological Examining Committee.

The Assembly reconvened on Wednesday, June 12 at 9:30. The first item of business was the report from the Committee on the Review of Presbytery Records. Read a summary of the RPR’s work here.

The Assembly voted to refer certain exceptions of substance concerning Korean Capital, Nashville, Platte Valley presbyteries to next year’s RPR. The vote was 975-481-61.

The Assembly voted to remove exceptions of substance from Piedmont Triad, Weminster, and Missouri presbyteries. The Assembly voted to change a response from Potomac Presbytery from unsatisfactory to satisfactory.

The Assembly heard the reports from the Committee on Interchurch Relations and voted to accept the recommendations in the report.

The Assembly heard reports from the Committees of Commissioners on Covenant Theological Seminary, Geneva Benefits, Inc., Reformed University Fellowship, Mission to North America, Covenant College, Mission to the World, and Ridge Haven Conference Center and accepted the recommendations in those reports. Below are some highlights from each agency.

Covenant Theological Seminary

Now in its seventh decade of ministry, Covenant Theological Seminary remains centered on

Christ’s mission and committed to training the next generation of pastors, counselors, and ministry leaders.In January 2024 Covenant’s board adopted a new Strategic Plan that will focus on prioritizing pastor-minded students; strengthening theological preparedness; renewing focus on spiritual formation; strengthening local, intercultural, and global mission; stewarding the seminary’s relationship with the PCA; and fostering financial sustainability. The incoming fall class of 2023 was 150 students, an increase of 43%. Covenant also received a $1.19 million grant from Lilly Endowment toward equipping future preachers.

Geneva Benefits, Inc.

In 2023, the 403(b) retirement plan assets managed by Geneva Benefits increased by 16% to more than $931,000,000. Geneva Benefits manages nearly 10,000 retirement accounts. The agency provides group insurance to nearly 4,900 employees and life insurance to more than 4,000. Due to an unsustainable funding model, Geneva Benefits had to cancel its counseling and wellbeing benefit in 2023; however, through the Cherish program, Geneva Benefits paid for 583 counseling sessions for pastors’ wives. In 2023 individuals, churches, and private foundations gave almost $1.6 million to the Geneva Benefits Relief Fund.

Reformed University Fellowship

Reformed University Fellowship continues to grow among college students in the United States, international students studying in the U.S., and as a campus ministry on international campuses. Currently RUF ministers to international students on 23 campuses, and has ministries on seven global campuses. The ministry currently has 138 full-time interns and a growing number of women being hired for the Campus Staff position. RUF continues to be a pipeline for leadership in the PCA, with over 195 former RUF campus ministers serving the church as church planters, pastors, associate pastors, assistant pastors, and denominational staff. Thousands of RUF alumni are serving in the church.

Mission to North America

While some respond to our massive religious shift with alarm, at MNA believes that we  are in the middle of a great opportunity for gospel impact in North America. MNA has a vision for obedience to the Great Commission through its five commitments: church planting, church vitality, growing in diversity, increasing PCA collaboration, and welcoming into the PCA churches that align with the PCA doctrinally but lack a denominational home. MNA hopes individuals, churches, and presbyteries will join MNA in its mission by praying for the success of MNA’s vision, giving toward the goal of planting 3,000 churches by 2030, and engaging with MNA’s many resources for church planting and church vitality. In 2023 MNA received support from 940 churches and more than 1,800 individuals.

Covenant College

In the fall of 2022, Covenant College welcomed 276 new students to Covenant’s campus. Donors gave over $6.5 million to Covenant during the 2022-2023 fiscal year, including gifts  to endowment, student scholarships, and the annual fund. Covenant received gifts from 443 churches, with 166 of those partnering with the college in its Church Scholarship Promise program. The total amount given by churches in 2022-23 was $882,000.

Mission to the World

For Mission to the World, 2023 was a year of rebuilding. After nearly three years without short-term mission teams, MTW Asia-Pacific started receiving vision trips, summer interns, and 11-month interns once again. MTW had 19 summer interns serving on six different teams around the region. In October MTW launched launched its first church planting training cohort in Europe. In Ukraine, the Ukrainian church has distributed $4,000,000 in aid since 2022. While the number of long-term missionaries decreased to 543, a five-year low, the numbers of two-year/initial term missionaries and interns are both at a five-year high.

Ridge Haven

Ridge Haven hosted groups 50 out of the 52 weeks of 2023, totaling 13,761 people and provided ministry opportunities for over 320 staff and volunteers. In 2023 at its Brevard Campus Ridge Haven opened a 12,000 square-foot gym with surrounding cabins, with an adjacent event complex due to open in 2024. Ridge Haven also launched its new Explorers Project, an umbrella endeavor for its Gap-Year, internship, summer staff, and seasonal staff programs that equip future leaders for ministry.

The Assembly heard the report of the Standing Judicial Commission and recessed until Thursday morning.

The Assembly reconvened on June 13 at 8:00 a.m., and heard the reports of the PCA Foundation, Committee on Discipleship Ministries, and Administrative Committees and accepted the recommendations in those reports. Below are some highlights from those reports.

PCA Foundation

At the end of 2023, the PCA Foundation’s total assets were $256.8, an increase of $56.5 million over the December 31, 2022 total assets of $200.3 million. In 2023 the PCA Foundation distributed more than $7.3 million in gifts to PCA agencies and nearly $16 million to PCA churches. In 2020 the Foundation began developing a cost effective method for online giving, and since rolling out the program, it has processed over 87,000 offerings resulting in $30.1 million to PCA churches.

Committee on Discipleship Ministries

To serve the PCA, CDM provides opportunities for leaders in discipleship ministry to come together for training and encouragement. CDM has hosted in-person and virtual leadership training workshops for childrens ministry, youth ministry, and womens ministry. It certified 23 students in its childrens ministry certification program and  in 2023 welcomed the inaugural class in its student ministry certification program. Since adding the WE (wives of elders) Ministriy Liaison, more than 2,000 women have connected with this ministry.

In 2023 CDM launched an overhaul of its children’s ministry curriculum Teach Me To Worship, rebranding it as Teach Us to Worship. CDM also published MNA’s own ESL curriculum. The student and teacher books for Introductory Level and Level 1 are now available, with Levels 3, 4, and 5 coming later in 2024 and in 2025.

Administrative Committee

The AC is working to translate the Book of Church Order into other languages. In 2024 it completed the Spanish translation (read more about here), and it has committees working to translate the BCO into Portuguese and Korean. The AC has gathered a subcommittee to investigate a system for digital records management for the work of the AC, including the SJC. The Assembly commended Stated Clerk Dr. Bryan Chapell, Business Administrator Dr.Dixie Zietlow, and the entire staff of the Administrative Committee for their faithful and effective labors for the Lord and their skillful and joyful service to the ministers, churches, presbyteries, permanent committees, agencies, and General Assembly in promoting the unity, purity, and mission of the Presbyterian Church in America in the past year.

The Assembly approved the recommendations of the Nominating Committee with floor nominees being elected to the Committee on Constitutional Business, Interchurch Relations Committee, and MNA.

Overtures Committee

The Assembly voted to accept in omnibus the recommendations from the Overtures Committee on all overtures EXCEPT 1, 3, 7, 13, 14, 17, 26, 28, and 33.

The Assembly voted to accept the recommendation on Overture 17, Amend BCO 13-6, 21-4, and 24-1 to Require Background Checks for Church Office, in the affirmative as amended. Read the amended language here.

The Assembly voted to answer Overture 26, Amend BCO 32-19 To Expand Representation of Accused Persons Before Church Courts, in the affirmative as amended. The vote was 1456-119-20. Read the amended language here.

The Assembly voted to answer Overture 3 in the negative, which would have granted constitutional status to BCO 53 re preaching. The vote was 857-906-13 . By BCO 15-8 e., if a recommendation proposing answering an overture in the affirmative fails, the overture should be considered answered in the negative.

The Assembly voted to answer Overture 13, Commend and Encourage Distribution of Commission Letter Regarding Gender Reassignment for Minors, in the affirmative as amended. The vote was 985-727-35. Read the amended language here.

The Assembly voted  to answer Overture 33, Erect Ad Interim Committee on the Book Jesus Calling, in the affirmative as amended. The vote was 947-834-20. Rather than establishing a study committee, the amended language is to request reports from the permanent committees of Mission to the World and PCA Discipleship Ministries (CDM). Read the amended language here.

The Assembly voted to approve the Overtures Committee recommendation for Overture 1, answering in the negative a proposed change concerning witness eligibility in ecclesiastical trials. The final vote was 950-750-34. The minority report was presented and failed (843-880-18).

The Assembly heard from the Committee on Thanks, chaired by Ruling Elder Mel Duncan. Moderator Steve Dowling then adjourned the Assembly.

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