Five presbyteries (Nashville, Ohio Valley, Rocky Mountain, Southern New England, and Tennessee Valley) have proposed that the five General Assembly permanent committees (Administrative, Discipleship Ministries, MNA, MTW, and RUF) be opened to non-ordained members. Currently, membership in those committees is limited to elders.
The overtures cite BCO 15-1 and 14-1.7 as demonstrating that these committees do not exercise the governing authority that is exclusive to ordained elders. Though referring to the recommendation by the ad interim Committee on Women in the Ministry of the Church, that the courts of the church at each level “consider overtures that would allow qualified women to serve on appropriate committees and agencies,” the overtures would open membership on the General Assembly (GA) permanent committees to men who are not ordained as well as to women.
The overtures call for non-ordained nominees to be endorsed by their sessions as to their Christian character, knowledge of the constitution (and in the case of two of the overtures, adherence to it), and promise of faithful service to the GA. While opening membership to those who are not ordained, the overtures would maintain elders as a majority of committee members and would specify that committee chairmen be limited to elders.
Ruling Elder E. J. Nusbaum, one of the authors, believes these overtures reflect an important element of PCA belief and practice.
“Our theology is sound in the way that it holds a biblical balance between the recognition of proper roles and responsibilities and the recognition of the value of individuals and the gifts and talents they bring to kingdom work,” he says. “This overture will better align our constitution with our theology in that it will open opportunities for wider participation for individuals while maintaining the authority of the ordained officers of the church.”
The overtures have been referred to the CCB to assess their compatibility with the constitution, and to the Overtures Committee for its recommendation to the GA.