The 47th General Assembly will take up two overtures addressing the issue of abortion.
At the May meeting of Hills and Plains Presbytery, the session of Christ the King Presbyterian Church of Norman, Oklahoma, asked the presbytery to adopt an overture on abortion they had drafted and send it on to the 47th General Assembly (GA). The session believed that their overture contained elements missing from past statements issued by the PCA. Specifically, their rationale (the “whereas” clauses) addressed what they characterized as the “fraudulent testimony on which Roe v. Wade was based,” biblical refutations of commonly used justifications for abortion, and the current critical situation in the culture concerning its practice.
In its resolution, the overture called for ecclesiastical discipline for political leaders who advocate abortion and for women who seek it, neither of which were part of earlier PCA statements on abortion.
Instead of adopting Christ the King’s overture as presented, Hills and Plains approved a substitute which has become Overture 46 to the 2019 Assembly. Doug Serven, pastor of City Pres in Oklahoma City and author of the substitute, agrees with the need for the church’s view on abortion to be heard.
“We are called to speak up against injustice,” he says, “and the tragedy of abortion certainly fits that bill.” The overture approved by Hills and Plains contains much of the same rationale as that proposed by Christ the King, absent the unique elements identified above. And instead of Christ the King’s nine-point resolution which includes the call for church discipline, the adopted overture asks the GA to re-affirm nine overtures on abortion adopted by PCA General Assemblies from 1979 to 2014.
“In the current culture, it’s good to remember what the Church has spoken about this matter,” Serven says. “Our words and beliefs and actions need to be heard over and over.”
The session of Christ the King believes the matters that were excluded from the substitute are of such importance that they need to be considered by the General Assembly. They have therefore made use of a provision in the Rules of Assembly Operation that allows a session or individual who proposes an overture that has been rejected by a presbytery to present that overture to the General Assembly, provided it clearly states the fact that it was rejected by the presbytery.
Christ the King is particularly concerned that the provision calling for church discipline should be considered. “We believe the Church’s failure to discipline its members with respect to this issue has allowed it to ferment within our culture,” says Mike Biggs, Christ the King’s pastor. “We believe that the time is now for strong, clear, uncompromising, biblically faithful, and obedient attention to God’s Word.”
Both overtures have been referred to the Overtures Committee for their recommendation.