Stated Clerk’s Summary and Reflections on the 50th General Assembly
By Bryan Chapell

We gather as a true branch of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. We affirm our allegiance to Him as the sole Head of the Church and … we remember that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against His Church.

With these words taken from the “Message to All Churches” that announced the formation of the Presbyterian Church (PCA) in 1973, we began the business reports of this year’s 50th Anniversary General Assembly. As PCA Stated Clerk, I then went on to cite key declarations of the “Message” that continue to reflect our church’s commitment to be “Faithful to Scripture, True to the Reformed Faith, and Obedient to the Great Commission”:

First, we declare the basis of the authority for the Church…. The Bible is the Word of God written and carries the authority of its divine Author…. We declare, therefore, that the Bible is the very Word of God, so inspired in the whole and in all its parts, as [to be] … the only infallible and all-sufficient rule of faith and practice.

We declare also that we believe the system of doctrine found in God’s Word to be … the Reformed Faith as set forth in the Westminster Confession and Catechisms. It is our conviction that the Reformed faith is not sectarian, but an authentic and valid expression of Biblical Christianity.

We declare that the ultimate purpose of the Church is to glorify God. We believe this includes giving top priority to Christ’s Great Commission…. We … deliberately inscribe on our Church’s banner, as she now unfurls it to the world …, “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations….” We regard this as the great end of our organization, and obedience to it, as the indispensable condition of our Lord’s promised presence.

50th General Assembly Anniversary Celebration

Gathering around these key declarations, the Jubilee Assembly of the PCA was characterized by wonderful celebration and a spirit of unity that distinguished this Assembly – with a near-record-attendance (approximately 2300 commissioners from over 1,100 churches) – from some contentiousness experienced in recent years. Despite the importance of the issues being discussed, we have never had so large a number of serious issues decided by such large votes that were so lopsided. The desire to honor the Lord’s faithfulness to our church, combined with the sobering effects of the recent loss of key leaders and the tragedy of the shootings at the Covenant School in Nashville, seemed to cause those who gathered in Memphis to want to come together for Christ’s testimony to one another and to the world. 

Brothers and fathers from varying perspectives worked both before and during the Assembly to reach understanding that we pray will enable our church to move forward in Christ’s mission with renewed zeal and unity. We are Presbyterians because of our Biblical conviction that together we can do far more for the Lord than we can do separately. Our Golden Anniversary’s glorious worship services, fervent prayers, and respectful debates were a fresh expression of that conviction. 

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