Reflections – 2016.07

Some Reflections on the PCA General Assembly

Last week I attended the 44th PCA General Assembly (GA) in Mobile, AL.  Thank you for sending me there to represent you and for praying for me.  Here are some highlights from the Assembly this year:

Worship and Greetings –  Worship at General Assembly is always a highlight.  This year, music was led on Wednesday night by the Gettys (we sing many of their songs in our worship services); the Word of God was brought too us ably by Tim Keller and Thurman Williams.  The singing, 1000+ people strong, was a blessing to be a part of.  In addition to the worship services, I am always encouraged by the representatives from other Presbyterian denominations throughout the world who bring greetings from their denominations.  These included the Presbyterian Churches of Mexico, Brazil, New Zealand, and the Free Church of Scotland.  From the US, the OPC, URCNA, ARPCA, and Anglican Church of North America, brought greetings.  I also had the privilege of hearing from pastors in Uganda and India of some very exciting works of the Lord that are going on there in the training of pastors and the growth of the reformed churches in these lands.

The Racial Reconciliation Resolution – By an overwhelming margin (861-123), the Assembly passed a resolution related to racial reconciliation.  Here is the heart of that resolution:

“Therefore be it resolved, that the 44th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of corporate and historical sins, including those committed during the Civil Rights era, and continuing racial sins of ourselves and our fathers such as the segregation of worshipers by race; the exclusion of persons from Church membership on the basis of race; the exclusion of churches, or elders, from membership in the Presbyteries on the basis of race; the teaching that the Bible sanctions racial segregation and discourages inter-racial marriage; the participation in and defense of white supremacist organizations; and the failure to live out the gospel imperative that “love does no wrong to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10); and

Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of past failures to love brothers and sisters from minority cultures in accordance with what the Gospel requires, as well as failures to lovingly confront our brothers and sisters concerning racial sins and personal bigotry, and failing to “learn to do good, seek justice and correct oppression (Isaiah 1:17);” and

Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly praises and recommits itself to the gospel task of racial reconciliation, diligently seeking effective courses of action to further that goal, with humility, sincerity and zeal, for the glory of God and the furtherance of the Gospel; and

Be it further resolved, that the General Assembly urges the congregations and presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church in America to make this resolution known to their members in order that they may prayerfully confess their own racial sins as led by the Spirit and strive towards racial reconciliation for the advancement of the gospel, the love of Christ, and the glory of God.”

If you would like to read a good book on the history of the PCA, read “For a Continuing Church” by Sean Lucas.  After reading this, you will see why this resolution was in the eyes of the Assembly a very important one.

Women in the Church –  There is a desire in the PCA to affirm women in their giftedness while remaining faithful to Scripture’s teaching with respect to the role of women in the Church.  This year’s GA passed a resolution to form a study committee that would clarify the role of women in the Church, particularly with respect to office.   As the resolution states, “The committee will be made up of competent men and women representing the diversity of opinions within the PCA. The committee will give particular attention to the issues of: (1) The biblical basis, theology, history, nature, and authority of ordination; (2) The biblical nature and function of the office of deacon; (3) Clarification on the ordination or commissioning of deacons/deaconesses …”  This committee’s work will be the subject of much discussion at next year’s GA.  My hope is that it will be a helpful teaching tool for PCA churches and an encouragement to our sisters in Christ.

Seminars – In the morning, before the assembly begins, seminars on a wide variety of topics are offered.  I attended six seminars, three that were specific to race relations in the church, one that was a discussion of the influence of Presbyterians in early American history and a consideration of how we might influence our culture today, one that dealt with ministering to those wrestling with same sex attraction and gender identity, and one that spoke about the ethics surrounding financial decisions related to end of life care.

Please feel free to ask me any question you would like about the Assembly.  Also, I purchased access to all seminars, assembly sessions, etc… so you will soon be able to take a look at whatever aspect of GA you would like to look at.  Next year, make a point to watch some of it online or read about what is happening on the By Faith website.  Become familiar with your denomination.  I continue to be glad that we are a part of the PCA.