Pastoral Notes for Sunday, June 24, 2018

The General Assembly (GA) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) meets every June to conduct the national business of the denomination. This year’s GA was one of the more encouraging GA’s in recent memory.

One reason for the meeting’s efficiency and expediency was Dr. Irwyn Ince, the first African American moderator of the PCA. Dr. Ince serves as the Director of the Grace DC Network for Cross Cultural Mission and has been actively involved in the denomination the last several years—serving as chairman of the Study Committee on Women in Ministry from 2016-2017 and the Overtures Committee in 2016. When being nominated for election as moderator this year, Dr. Charles McGowan said of Dr. Ince, The PCA is blessed to have chosen Irwyn Ince as her newly-elected moderator. We have done more than elect the first black moderator in the history of our denomination. We have wisely chosen a proven, capable young leader and a respected and faithful churchman. He will be a skilled moderator and represent the denomination well throughout the year.” Dr. McGowan is absolutely right. We are indeed blessed to have Dr. Ince as the 2018-2019 moderator of the PCA.

Aside from the historic election of Dr. Ince to moderator, here are two other items of note coming out of this year’s General assembly. First, an overture (item of business) was passed to strengthen our denomination’s commitment to a biblical definition of marriage. Though our confessions and catechisms already clearly set forward a biblical view of marriage being between one man and one woman for life, it was believed that by making our Book of Church Order’s (BCO) chapter 59.3 on marriage “constitutionally binding,” our position would be strengthened all the more and may serve as a needed protection for our denomination in the days ahead. The approved statement reads as follows “Marriage is only to be between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24-25; Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Cor. 7:2), in accordance with the Word of God. Therefore, ministers in the Presbyterian Church in America who solemnize marriages shall only solemnize marriages between one man and one woman.”

Finally, two years ago the General Assembly Ad Interim Committee on Racial and Ethnic Reconciliation was formed to “…assess the current situation in the PCA concerning racial and ethnic reconciliation” and to “identify specific problems the PCA needs to address to promote racial reconciliation and ethnic diversity.” Further, the committee was to help the denomination “develop constructive guidelines and suggest concrete steps for the use of the PCA, including all presbyteries and sessions in order to make progress toward the work of racial reconciliation.” The committee’s report was biblically sound, thoroughly researched, and pastorally wise. The report’s suggestions for churches, academic institutions, and presbyteries for ongoing reconciliation and minority inclusion and development were well received and approved by the GA. This report will be published at some point later this year. When it is available, I will be sure to let you know.

If you have any questions about the items above or other actions of the General Assembly this year, do not hesitate to reach out. I would be glad to speak with you further.