In light of the recommendations adopted by the Forty-Fifth General Assembly of the PCA and the comments above, we offer the following recommendations for the encouragement and edification of the Presbytery of Mississippi Valley and all the men and women of its many congregations.
Read the whole Report here.
The Presbytery of Mississippi Valley, with all the churches of the Presbyterian Church in America, confess with one voice that the Bible is God’s Word and is the “supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest” (WCF 1.10). We also subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms as accurate and reliable sum-maries of biblical teaching and therefore our own faith.
So committed, the Presbytery of Mississippi Valley established a commission to appoint “a Special Committee” at its 1 May 2018 meeting “to study the recommendations of GA regarding the role of women in ministry and report its recommendations” back to pres-bytery. This is that report.
Our report is offered in two parts. The first part comments on each recommendation to the sessions and presbyteries of the PCA (recommendations 2–8) proposed in the Report of the Ad Interim Committee on Women Serving in the Ministry of the Church and adopted by the Forty-Fifth General Assembly (hereafter, GA Report). The second part contains a set of recommendations regarding the role of women in the church generated by our study of the GA Report in light of Scripture, the Constitution of the PCA, our Standing Rules, and historical and current practices. The members of this committee consulted and were advised throughout by a panel of wise, godly, and gifted women ministry leaders in our presbytery….
Recommendations to Presbytery
In light of the recommendations adopted by the Forty-Fifth General Assembly of the PCA and the comments above, we offer the following recommendations for the encouragement and edification of the Presbytery of Mississippi Valley and all the men and women of its many congregations:
1. That the Presbytery of the Mississippi Valley make available and recommend for study this “Report of the PMV Study Committee on the Role of Women in the Church” to its sessions.
2. The committee recommends the following ways to promote and support the ministry of women in our bounds:
a. That the sessions of PMV regularly and faithfully communicate with women’s ministry leaders. PMV is blessed with many godly and gifted women who desire to use their gifts under the oversight and leadership of ordained elders (and deacons). They not only welcome session leadership but also positively desire the session’s guidance, direction, and oversight in their work. Frequent and improved communication between sessions and women’s ministry leaders (and the congregation as a whole) would give the women of PMV churches greater confidence that they are indeed adhering to biblical and constitutional parameters and carrying out the session’s ministry vision and mission in women’s ministries.
b.That sessions of PMV study ways the work of the ministry may be enhanced by the provision of BCO 9-7, especially as it relates to the expedient assistance women can offer in diaconal ministry in light of 1 Timothy 3:11, and that PMV sessions give attention to the qualifications for women who assist in diaconal ministry specified in 1 Timothy 3:11: that they be “dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.”
c.That PMV and the sessions of PMV consider how we might better prepare and equip women, especially women’s ministry leaders, for the work of the ministry God gifts and calls them to fulfill as they serve the church at all levels.
d.We commend PMV for occasionally inviting wise and godly women experienced in ministering to other women in the life of the church to address presbytery in order to encourage and equip pastors to better shepherd female members. Considering the need for elders to be well equipped to minister to women and the relatively few opportunities they have to benefit from the wise and godly counsel of Christian women in their elder or ministerial training, we recommend that PMV establish this occasional opportunity as a regular, perhaps annual, presbytery practice.
e. Although this committee has not discovered any need for an overture to permit women to serve the church in appropriate ways, we remind PMV and the sessions of PMV that committees at all levels of the church have the authority to seek out and invite women to attend and serve as advisers. We recommend that PMV and the sessions of PMV seek out and invite godly and gifted women to serve as advisers to presbytery committees (as proper). We commend this practice to PMV and PMV sessions as an appropriate way for women to live out their complementary role in serving the church at the level of the congregation, presbytery, and general assembly.
f. Given the presence of women in the midst of this presbytery who desire further training in women’s ministry, we recommend that CDM consider how it might work with the PWMT to involve women in formal and informal internship opportunities for ministry to the churches of PMV.
3. The committee recommends the following regarding diaconal ministry:
a. That the sessions of PMV ensure that the rights of our members to ordained diaconal ministry are respected, and that wherever possible godly men are ordained to this office.
b. That the sessions of PMV pursue selection, training, and appointment processes for male and female diaconal assistants that clearly differentiate between the role of these assistants and the ordained officers of the church.
c. We commend to the sessions of PMV the varied approaches of the churches of the presbytery to the appointment and deployment of diaconal assistants. We recommend that the sessions of PMV make use of these examples to further develop diaconal ministry throughout the life of our congregations.
4. The committee recommends the following regarding public worship:
a. That PMV welcomes the GA Report’s clear defense of the biblical teaching that the preaching ministry is to be exercised by elders alone.
b. That PMV encourages the churches of PMV carefully to examine the use made of women and non-ordained men during corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, in order to ensure that the elder-led character of New Testament worship is reflected in our services.
c. That PMV further encourages the churches of PMV, not only to welcome but also to identify, train, and equip godly and gifted women to teach the Bible well in contexts supported by the New Testament.
5. The committee recommends the following regarding the questions of commissioning and establishing a position of commissioned church worker:
a. That the sessions of PMV exercise great care if they use commissioning as a mechanism for recognizing church workers, including diaconal assistants, so as to avoid the appearance of ordination or of establishing a quasi-office found neither in scripture nor our constitution.
b. That PMV and the sessions of PMV act in ways that adorn and commend the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people and offer no occasion for offense or reproach in issues of perceived income inequalities between ordained and non-ordained church workers and between men and women serving on church staffs.
c. That PMV and the sessions of PMV study ways to effectively recognize and show appreciation for everyone who serves the church faithfully, including the many faithful women serving the church in paid and unpaid positions.
6. That PMV and the sessions of PMV implement the recommendations of this report in such a way as to reach out to and include all women, without partiality (Titus 2:3–5; Gal. 3:27–29; Eph. 2:14–21; James 1:27, 2:1).