Steve Dowling Elected Moderator of 51st General Assembly
By Megan Fowler

Ruling Elder Steve Dowling has been elected moderator of the 51st PCA General Assembly. The technology executive from Covenant Presbyterian Church in Auburn, Alabama, was chosen by acclamation. 

Dowling, 68, was first ordained as a ruling elder in 2003 at New Life Presbyterian Church in Stafford, Virginia. For the past 19 years he has served as an elder at Covenant in Southeast Alabama Presbytery. At the Assembly he has been a member of the Overtures Committee and Committee on Constitutional Business. He has served on the Standing Judicial Commission for eight years. Dowling has also chaired the Overtures Committee twice, most recently moderating the committee last year at the 50th General Assembly.

His work on behalf of the General Assembly has earned Dowling the reputation for bringing clarity to complex issues and finding consensus among elders who disagree. In 2022 while serving as vice-chairman for Overtures Committee, he navigated the committee through complicated procedural waters related to adoption of the DASA report. 

Nominating Dowling was Ruling Elder Mel Duncan of Calvary Presbytery. The two men have worked together for five years on the SJC. Duncan appreciates how Dowling can “cool a hot conversation,” and he believes Dowling’s leadership as chairman of the Overtures Committee in 2023 contributed to the efficiency of the entire Assembly.

“He did a good job of leading the committee and then did a good job of presenting the committee’s work,” Duncan said. “You lead well by forging consensus, listening well, and doing your best to hold a fair vote.”

Dowling said his goal as moderator is to be a unifier. While there are some differing opinions within the denomination, Dowling believes elders are not nearly as divided as they sometimes seem. 

He hopes to help the Assembly have a good meeting, one that includes not rancor, but “healthy conflict with a God-honoring outcome.”

Before working as an executive in the cloud computing industry, Dowling spent 27 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He became a Christian through the influence of Christians with whom he served. While an instructor at Cornell University, he came to the PCA through the ministry of New Life PCA in Ithaca, New York. 

Duncan, himself the son of a Marine, sees Dowling’s testimony as an encouraging example for the PCA. As an adult convert, Dowling represents “the kind of person the PCA is still reaching and serving,” Duncan said. 

After retiring from the Marine Corps, Dowling settled near Auburn. During his 19 years on session at Covenant, he has attended 18 General Assemblies. Like Duncan, Dowling was mentored by the late Henry Lewis Smith. Smith encouraged Dowling to get involved in the work of the church outside of session and helped him see the value in participating at the Assembly.

Dowling and his wife, Laura, have been married for 41 years. They have nine children and 18 grandchildren, plus another on the way.

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