Just before press time, 24 overtures had been submitted to the 46th General Assembly. Below is a brief synopsis of most of them, grouped by subject. Others have since followed. For a summary of the latest proposals, please visit byfaithonline.com/news/.
1, 2, 5, 24 Reinforce PCA’s Stance on Biblical Marriage
The definition of marriage between one man and one woman, already affirmed in Westminster Confession of Faith 24-1, needs further constitutional support, say Calvary and Grace Presbyteries. Their overtures request that constitutional status be granted to Book of Church Order (BCO) Chapter 59, which, they argue, would provide greater protection for a church facing discrimination in a court of law.
3 Provide Judicial Representation at All Levels
According to current practice in church discipline, a person may be represented only by a member of the same court. To broaden the pool from which the person being disciplined may seek advice, South Florida Presbytery has submitted an overture recommending that BCO 32-19 be amended “to allow counsel by any communing member of the PCA in all levels of the courts.”
4, 7 Elevate Role of Ruling Elders
Since the first General Assembly in 1973, the percentage of ruling elders who attend has declined. In an effort to boost their participation, Calvary Presbytery has proposed the following: 1) Require that at least three ruling elders serve on all Ad Interim committees, and 2) reduce the GA registration fee to $100 for ruling elders.
6 Make General Assembly More Efficient
General Assembly’s reception of study committee findings needs to be “more efficient and expedient,” according to Calvary Presbytery. Its overture proposes that the Rules of Assembly Operation be revised so that all recommendations from future Ad Interim committees be considered first through the Overtures Committee.
8 Restore a Minister
If a teaching elder is removed from his position, the BCO lays out a process by which that former minister may be reinstated. Tennessee Valley Presbytery has submitted an overture that revises BCO 34-8 and 37-8 so that it is clear that the local church plays a significant role in evaluating the minister’s fitness to return to vocational ministry.
9 Clarify Women’s Roles and the Diaconate
In response to last year’s study committee on Women Serving in the Ministry, Grace Presbytery has submitted an overture requesting that BCO 9-7 and 24-11 be amended so that it is clear that women and men serving as assistants to the diaconate are not, in fact, actually deacons.
The overture asks that language be added to these portions to clarify that assistants are not to take ordination vows, should not be referred to as “members of the diaconate” or “board of deacons,” and should not have the right to vote on matters coming before the “diaconate” or “board of deacons.”
10, 12 Require 30 Days’ Notice to Leave PCA
Churches need to give their members at least 30 days to announce a meeting to consider leaving the denomination, submit Evangel and Eastern Canada Presbyteries. Their overtures recommend that the language in BCO 25-11 be changed to require such.
11, 15 “Dignify” Elders
Elders should be “grave and prudent,” according to BCO 8-1. Members of Eastern Pennsylvania and Tidewater Presbyteries think this wording is outdated and have recommended replacing “grave” with “dignified.” They’ve also proposed adding the descriptor of “hospitable” to the requirements for elders. “I think it will help us see elders more as shepherds, more than just a board that makes decisions,” says teaching elder David Dickson.
13 Nominate Women to Serve on Agencies
Women should be allowed to serve on the boards of the PCA’s agencies, Nashville Presbytery asserts. Its overture comes in response to one of the recommendations in the “Women Serving in the Ministry” study and requests that both unordained men and women be allowed to serve on the boards of Covenant College, Covenant Theological Seminary, the PCA Foundation, PCA Retirement & Benefits, and Ridge Haven Conference and Retreat Center.
14, 18 Provide Training for Pastors’ Wives
To support and equip “pastoral spouses,” Chesapeake and Nashville Presbyteries are recommending that presbyteries and churches set aside funds for these women to receive training, primarily