Last year, the 45th General Assembly received and approved a report from the Ad Interim Committee on Women Serving in the Ministry of the Church. The report laid out what it described as a “robust and gracious complementarian” approach to best utilize the gifts of women in the church.
The following was one of the recommendations proposed: “That sessions, presbyteries and the General Assembly strive to develop, recognize, and utilize the gifts, skills, knowledge, and wisdom of godly women in the local, regional, and national church, and particularly consider overtures that would allow qualified women to serve on appropriate committees and agencies within the church.”
In response, Nashville Presbytery has submitted Overture 13, which requests that non-ordained men and women be allowed to serve on the boards of the agencies of the denomination, particularly Covenant College, Covenant Theological Seminary, PCA Foundation, PCA Retirement & Benefits, and Ridge Haven Conference Center. Currently, only ordained officers are permitted to serve on these boards, as well as the boards of the permanent committees of the denomination.
“[This overture] would certainly give the denomination an opportunity to access a broader spectrum of giftedness within the life of the church,” said Teaching Elder Charles McGowan. “This overture says that there is something that qualifies someone to serve on the boards and agencies of the church beyond ordination as an elder; that there are highly qualified people who have never been ordained as a teaching or ruling elder who fully subscribe to the standards of the church, fully believe and embrace them, and yet have never had an opportunity to serve in a decision-making capacity at the level of a board or agency of the church.”
If implemented, the recommendation maintains that a super-majority — in most cases, either two-thirds or three-fourths — of the board members of these agencies be ordained officers in the PCA. As well, it makes a provision for vows to be developed for non-ordained members that would be “just as strong” as the vows elders and deacons take when they are ordained. Lastly, the change would take place gradually, only as current members of these boards retire.
McGowan says that this proposal will help make some of the recommendations of the study committee a reality and encourage good diversity in the church.