This past week was the annual General Assembly (GA) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), at which I had the privilege of serving on the Committee of Commissioners for Reformed University Fellowship.*
While the details might bore many of you, there are highlights well worth noting.
First, we elected our first ever African American moderator. Historic, to be sure, but trust me when I tell you that Rev. Irwyn Ince wasn’t chosen for the color of his skin. He was chosen for his character, his thoughtful and measured and tempered speech, his wisdom and understanding of our presbyterian polity, and his proven leadership. And, in the words of 'Mater (from the movie Cars), we knew we made a good choice when, in the first year of a newer and shorter schedule, we still finished our business on Thursday night. Admittedly, there was little controversy, but many of us expected such a feat could not be accomplished.
Closely connected with that, we also received the report of the study committee on racial reconciliation. You can read the report online here. We want, more and more, not just for the PCA, but for Grace Covenant, to reflect the picture of the church in Revelation 5:9 and 7:9.
Another decision by the Assembly was, technically, I believe, unnecessary and unfortunate, but helpful nonetheless. Four different presbyteries asked the Assembly to take a stand on marriage, defining it as being between one man and one woman. Each was asking that we amend our Book of Church Order (chapter 59) and grant that chapter "constitutional status". Not to get too bogged down in the weeds and technicalities, chapter 59 is part of a section on worship that isn't binding or hasn't been granted full-constitutional status. This past week, we voted to add a sentence to BCO 59-3 and to grant that section full constitutionality.**
The process isn't complete, however. In order to amend our Constitution, it requires a majority vote at one General Assembly, an approval from 2/3 of the presbyteries over the next year, and another majority vote at the ensuing GA.
Now, why do I say the decision is unfortunate? It's disappointing that the world in which we live has demanded churches to "choose" between following the lead of the world or God's Word. The Bible is clear - marriage is to be between one man and one woman. Today's world disagrees.
So, why, then, did I suggest that the decision was helpful, but unnecessary? Because the Westminster Confession of Faith is, and always has been, constitutional and it makes clear the Bible's view of marriage (WCF 24.1). So, this was a helpful decision; I will always have the clearly written support of my denomination that I may not perform same-sex weddings. It adds a layer of protection for me against lawsuits in the future.
Finally, it's always a highlight seeing classmates and friends from Clemson, RTS in Charlotte, and previous church staffs. I'm thankful for God's work in and through his people around the globe.
* If there are terms in that sentence you don’t understand, you should attend our next membership class - GCC 101.
** I don't have the specific language in front of me