On June 11, the General Assembly adopted the Review of Presbytery Records (RPR) Committee’s report on Recommendation 81: Westminster Presbytery Minutes, citing Westminster Presbytery with an exception of substance.
The committee noted that the presbytery’s manual included a declaration that “any man desiring to serve as an ordained officer” in the presbytery “must affirm and agree.” The action steps beyond presbytery’s power. The Committee referenced the decision of the Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) in two cases reported to the 39th General Assembly and the decision on a complaint submitted to the 10th General Assembly in support of its conclusion. In both cases a presbytery adopted positions that were deemed acceptable to presbytery on an issue and therefore established a position that members must hold. In both cases the complaints were sustained, with the SJC declaring that the presbyteries had overstepped their power by adding to, or taking away from, what is constitutional with respect to these doctrines and duties. The Committee made it clear it was not addressing the theological position of the statement itself.
A minority believed that the use of the declaration was not an exception of substance, citing their belief that it was fully in accord with the PCA’s doctrinal standards.
Recommendation 56 Also Adopted
The Assembly also adopted the Committee’s recommendation 56. By a vote of 26-25, the committee recommended that Assembly cite Philadelphia with an exception of substance for sustaining a Feb. 2014 ordination exam in which a candidate stated he was unsure the New Testament “itself teaches a universal prohibition of women eldership.” He did not advocate the ordination of women.
A Minority Report held that because the candidate didn’t promote the ordination of women, there was no need for the Assembly to cite Philadelphia with an exception of substance.