Overture 1, submitted by Northwest Georgia Presbytery, would amend the Book of Church Order (BCO) to increase the representation of ruling elders (REs) at General Assembly (GA). The current BCO provision — found in BCO 14-2 — allows for congregations with up to 350 communing members to send two RE representatives and for an additional RE representative to be added for each additional 500 communing members or fraction thereof.
The Northwest Georgia proposal would double those numbers to four and two respectively. The rationale for the overture cites what it calls a “severe crisis” in the ratio of REs to teaching elders (TEs) in GA attendance. According to a chart attached to the overture, 69% of commissioners, on average, have been TEs. Last year 79% of commissioners were TEs. What’s more, less than a third of PCA churches sent an RE commissioner last year.
The Northwest Georgia overture proposes allowing churches to send more REs as a remedy. TE David Hall, pastor of Midway Presbyterian Church, hopes this measure will induce REs to attend the Assembly. “We [in Northwest Georgia Presbytery] look forward to beginning a new conversation about wider participation, structure, and inclusion,” he said.
Overture 1 has been referred to the Overtures Committee of the 47th GA, which will recommend an answer to the Assembly.