Rocky Mountain Presbytery Overtures 47th PCA GA to ‘Expand Participation on PCA Permanent Committees’

The overture requests the 47th Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly to expand participation on permanent committees by allowing unordained men and women to serve on them.

The Rocky Mountain Presbytery approved an overture at its January 24, 2019 Stated Meeting, asking the 47th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America to expand participation on permanent committees of the PCA by amending certain provisions of the Book of Church Order (BCO). The overture is asking the General Assembly to amend the BCO to allow unordained men and women to be elected to and serve on GA permanent committees. The overture makes a number of statements in favor of expanding participation of unordained PCA men and women on GA committees:

“…a robustly complementarian perspective affirms the oversight of these elders and the proper, vital and full expression of the gifts given by Christ to men and women for his service.”

“…vigorous participation of women in the life of the early church is attested by the New Testament….”

“…these considerations suggest there is no impediment to an unordained member in good standing in the PCA serving on a Permanent Committee of the General Assembly established in BCO 14-1.12.”

An overture is a means by which a Presbytery can bring a matter to the GA for consideration. This overture will be considered by the 47th PCA General Assembly at its meeting in Dallas, Texas, June 24-27, 2019.

Overture from Rocky Mountain Presbytery
Expand Participation on PCA Permanent Committees

Whereas, the Presbyterian Church in America believes Christ has called his church to be a “spiritual commonwealth” (BCO 3-1), in which members elect godly men to be ordained as elders who are given the power of jurisdiction as they act jointly in the courts of the church (BCO 3-2); and

Whereas, a robustly complementarian perspective affirms the oversight of these elders and the proper, vital and full expression of the gifts given by Christ to men and women for his service; and

Whereas, vigorous participation of women in the life of the early church is attested by the New Testament: they helped select (Acts 1:14) and train (Acts 18:26) leaders of the church, prophesied (Acts 21:8-9), served the church through deeds of mercy in vital ways (Acts 9:36–41), were instrumental in the planting of churches (Acts 16:12–15; 17:4,12) and other missionary endeavors (Acts 18:1f), and were acknowledged as important leaders for the church (Rom. 16:3-4); and

Whereas, as part of the calling of church leaders to “equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12), sessions throughout the PCA identify gifted men and women to serve on committees of the church, such as missions, building, and pastoral search committees; and

Whereas, in contrast with a commission in the PCA, which is “authorized to deliberate and conclude the business referred to it,” committees are appointed by courts “to examine, consider and report” to their constituting court concerning the matters that court delegates to them (BCO 15-1) and thus do not exercise governing authority; and

Whereas, in accordance with this principle, Permanent Committees established by the General Assembly are “to serve and not to direct any Church judicatories. They are not to establish policy, but rather execute policy established by the General Assembly” (BCO 14-1.7); and

Whereas, these considerations suggest there is no impediment to an unordained member in good standing in the PCA serving on a Permanent Committee of the General Assembly established in BCO 14-1.12; and

Whereas, the 45th General Assembly adopted the recommendation of The Ad Interim Committee on Women Serving in the Ministry of the Church that stated “sessions, presbyteries and the General Assembly strive to develop, recognize, and utilize the gifts, skills, knowledge, and wisdom of godly women in the local, regional, and national church, and particularly consider overtures that would allow qualified women to serve on appropriate committees and agencies within the church”; and

Therefore be it resolved to amend The Book of Church Order 14.1-10., 14-1-11, and 14.1-12. as follows: [Proposed additions underlined and deletions noted by strike out.] 

  1. The committees are to be established on the basis of an equal number between teaching and ruling elders.
  2. 10. A Nominating Committee shall be comprised of one representative elected by each Presbytery in the following manner. Each Presbytery shall be assigned to a class by the stated clerk based on its date of formation. The members shall serve in classes of three year terms, alternating between ruling and teaching elders. When necessary, unexpired terms shall be filled by an elder of the same class, teaching or ruling.

This committee is to present all nominations for which it is responsible to the next meeting of the Assembly from a slate of men candidates nominated by the Presbyteries. Presbyteries shall utilize the nominating forms provided by the stated clerk for their nominations. Each presbytery may present one teaching elder, and one ruling elder, and, when applicable, one candidate who is not an elder to fill openings that are designated for members at large for each committee or agency.  Any non-ordained person nominated must meet the qualifications outlined in BCO 14-1.11.

In addition to nominees for expired terms, the Committee shall nominate for each permanent Committee one ruling, and one teaching elder and a member at large candidate as alternates to fill any vacancies that may occur during the year. Each alternate should attend each meeting and fill any vacancy necessary to meet a quorum. In addition to the new nominees from the Presbyteries, alternates not assuming any vacancies during a year will be automatically considered by the Nominating Committee as candidates for nomination to that same committee.

  1. To be qualified for nomination and election to serve on a Permanent Committee or Agency as a member at large, a non-ordained candidate must be a member in good standing of a Church in the Presbyterian Church in America and must receive an endorsement from their Session. The endorsement will consist of testimony regarding the candidate’s Christian character, knowledge of the Constitution and promise of faithful service to the General Assembly.
  2. The Assembly permanent committees are the Administrative Committee of the General Assembly, Committee on Discipleship Ministries, Committee on Mission to North America, Committee on Mission to the World, and Committee on Reformed University Fellowship.

The Administrative Committee of the General Assembly (AC) shall consist of twenty (20) members:

  1. Eleven members, six elders and five members who are not elders, shall be in classes elected through the standard nomination and election procedure,
  2. One member from each of the following program committees or agencies:
  3. Committee on Discipleship Ministries (CDM)
  4. Covenant College (CC)
  5. Covenant Theological Seminary (CTS)
  6. Mission to North America (MNA)
  7. Mission to the World (MTW)
  8. PCA Foundation (PCAF)
  9. PCA Retirement & Benefits, Inc. (RBI)
  10. Reformed University Fellowship (RUF)
  11. Ridge Haven Conference Center (RH)

The eleven elected members at large shall serve a term of four years.  The chairman of the Administrative Committee shall be one of its elected ordained members at large.

Each program committee and agency shall designate its member each year at the last meeting of the committee or board before the meeting of the General Assembly.  The chief administrative officers of the program committees and agencies may attend any meeting of the Administrative Committee. They shall be entitled to the privilege of the floor but shall not have a vote and must be excluded when an executive session is called.

Committee on Discipleship Ministries, Committee on Mission to North America, Committee on Mission to the World, and Committee on Reformed University Fellowship shall consist of fifteen (15) men members divided into five classes of three men members. Three classes will have one TE, one RE and one member at large.  One class shall have one TE and two members at large and one class shall have one RE and two  members at large. each, with two men Being TEs and one RE or two men being REs and one TE on alternate years, Each class shall be elected to serve five-year terms.  Committee on Discipleship Ministries, Committee on Mission to North America, Committee on Mission to the World, and Committee on Reformed University Fellowship shall have one ruling elder, and one teaching elder and one member at large as alternates to fill any vacancy that may occur during the year.  A quorum for each Committees shall be eight (8) members, with a majority of those present being elders.  The Chairman of each Committee shall be an elder.

Persons who have served for a full term, or for at least two years of a partial term, on one of the Assembly’s permanent committees or agencies shall not be eligible for re-election to an Assembly committee until one year has lapsed.  (Exceptions may be permitted in agency bylaws approved by the Assembly).

So that BCO 14.1.10, 14.1.11, and 14.1.12 as amended would read:

  1. A Nominating Committee shall be comprised of one representative elected by each Presbytery in the following manner. Each Presbytery shall be assigned to a class by the stated clerk based on its date of formation. The members shall serve in classes of three year terms, alternating between ruling and teaching elders. When necessary, unexpired terms shall be filled by an elder of the same class, teaching or ruling.

This committee is to present all nominations for which it is responsible to the next meeting of the Assembly from a slate of candidates nominated by the Presbyteries. Presbyteries shall utilize the nominating forms provided by the stated clerk for their nominations. Each presbytery may present one teaching elder, one ruling elder, and, when applicable, one candidate who is not an elder to fill openings that are designated for members at large for each committee or agency.  Any non-ordained person nominated must meet the qualifications outlined in BCO 14-1.11.

In addition to nominees for expired terms, the Committee shall nominate for each permanent Committee one ruling, one teaching elder and a member at large candidate as alternates to fill any vacancies that may occur during the year. Each alternate should attend each meeting and fill any vacancy necessary to meet a quorum. In addition to the new nominees from the Presbyteries, alternates not assuming any vacancies during a year will be automatically considered by the Nominating Committee as candidates for nomination to that same committee.

  1. To be qualified for nomination and election to serve on a Permanent Committee or Agency as a member at large, a non-ordained candidate must be a member in good standing of a Church in the Presbyterian Church in America and must receive an endorsement from their Session. The endorsement will consist of testimony regarding the candidate’s Christian character, knowledge of the Constitution and promise of faithful service to the General Assembly.
  2. The Assembly permanent committees are the Administrative Committee of the General Assembly, Committee on Discipleship Ministries, Committee on Mission to North America, Committee on Mission to the World, and Committee on Reformed University Fellowship.

The Administrative Committee of the General Assembly (AC) shall consist of twenty (20) members:

  1. Eleven members, six elders and five members who are not elders, shall be in classes elected through the standard nomination and election procedure,
  2. One member from each of the following program committees or agencies:
  3. Committee on Discipleship Ministries (CDM)
  4. Covenant College (CC)
  5. Covenant Theological Seminary (CTS)
  6. Mission to North America (MNA)
  7. Mission to the World (MTW)
  8. PCA Foundation (PCAF)
  9. PCA Retirement & Benefits, Inc. (RBI)
  10. Reformed University Fellowship (RUF)
  11. Ridge Haven Conference Center (RH)

The eleven elected members shall serve a term of four years.  The chairman of the Administrative Committee shall be one of its elected ordained members.

Each program committee and agency shall designate its member each year at the last meeting of the committee or board before the meeting of the General Assembly.  The chief administrative officers of the program committees and agencies may attend any meeting of the Administrative Committee. They shall be entitled to the privilege of the floor but shall not have a vote and must be excluded when an executive session is called.

Committee on Discipleship Ministries, Committee on Mission to North America, Committee on Mission to the World, and Committee on Reformed University Fellowship shall consist of fifteen (15) members divided into five classes of three members. Three classes will have one TE, one RE and one member at large.  One class shall have one TE and two members at large and one class shall have one RE and two members at large. Each class shall be elected to serve five-year terms.  Committee on Discipleship Ministries, Committee on Mission to North America, Committee on Mission to the World, and Committee on Reformed University Fellowship shall have one ruling elder, one teaching elder and one member at large as alternates to fill any vacancy that may occur during the year.  A quorum for each Committees shall be eight (8) members, with a majority of those present being elders.  The Chairman of each Committee shall be an elder.

Persons who have served for a full term, or for at least two years of a partial term, on one of the Assembly’s permanent committees or agencies shall not be eligible for re-election to an Assembly committee until one year has lapsed.  (Exceptions may be permitted in agency bylaws approved by the Assembly).

Further, be it resolved that the Stated Clerk shall be responsible for developing the nomination forms necessary to implement this process and shall be responsible for converting the composition of each class as each class term expires.