On Nov. 12, Stated Clerk Pro Tempore Bryan Chapell released the following letter regarding the PCA’s 48th General Assembly:
Dear PCA Family,
I am writing you on behalf of the Administrative Committee of the PCA to let you know that we will not be asking you to register for the 48th General Assembly (GA) beginning in January as we would ordinarily do. Let me assure you that we are continuing to press toward having our General Assembly as planned next June. Our national gathering is extremely important for our corporate mission, and we have important issues to address. However, uncertainties surrounding Covid-19 make it prudent to allow additional time to assess our nation’s response and local resources/restrictions in St. Louis before deciding if we will need an alternative schedule.
Despite promising news this week about a vaccine, medical advisers indicate that it remains unclear when vaccines will be available nationally that could provide a necessary level of protection against the virus, especially for the most vulnerable among us. Even if vaccines become widely available this winter, there is a strong possibility that major conventions such as ours will not be approved for services by St. Louis convention center/hotel staffs until the fall of 2021.
For this reason, the Administrative Committee is not planning to make a decision about any change in timing of the 48th General Assembly until the end of February 2021. In March, we will be notifying you of a decision, after we have been able to consult leaders across our denomination, as well as medical and government advisors. As a contingency, we are exploring possible options for our GA in St. Louis in the fall of 2021 (most likely from Mid-September to Late-October), if the June date becomes infeasible.
Depending upon the timing that seems best for our GA, we will also consult with leaders across our denomination to get their counsel about the implications of an Assembly delay for our church’s operations, nominations, and decisions. Please pray for all those involved in these consultations that have momentous implications for how we collectively serve Christ’s mission in accord with our Presbyterian commitments to mutual accountability and cooperative ministry.
I write with continued thankfulness for those of you who donated your 2020 GA fees rather than asking for a return, when that Assembly was postponed. We do not want to make a similar request of you should we be required to postpone again.
At the same time, it is important for you to know that without normal General Assembly registrations, the administrative operations of the PCA are seriously affected. Last year’s donated registrations were not sufficient to cover our organizational expenses, and a second year with no GA will have far-reaching consequences for the capability of GA committees and commissions to carry out ongoing responsibilities that serve and protect our churches, presbyteries, and GA ministries. This is a vital time for every able church’s careful stewardship of our corporate mission.
Our hope is in the name of the Lord who made the heavens and the earth. Our mutual confidence in Him and our mutual desire to serve him according to the principles of his Word make me confident that I can write for your prayers and understanding in this tentative time. We have the privilege of knowing that our corporate witness to the Rock of Our Salvation in such a time will be especially powerful as the earth shakes and Christ speaks through his church.
Stated Clerk Pro Tempore
P.S. If you have thoughts or concerns that you think would be helpful for our planning, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We recognize that the overall situation is fluid, and we will continue to update you in the midwinter months, as information affecting our decision-making becomes available (e.g. vaccine availability and usage, local government policies, convention center access).