The 44th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (or the PCA, the denomination to which Redeemer belongs) met June 20-24 in Mobile, AL. The assembly was comprised of commissioners from the presbyteries in the PCA. Our Associate Pastor Jamie MacGregor represented Redeemer and the Central Indiana Presbytery by serving on the Overtures Committee. This committee helped determine the business that was considered at the assembly.
One of the more notable and historic topics considered at the assembly was that of race relations. Considering the weightiness of this matter, the overwhelming unity was amazing.
The approved (814-87 with 15 abstentions) overture reads:
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; and
Be it further resolved, that the 44th General Assembly call the attention of churches and presbyteries to the pastoral letter contained in Overture 55 as an example of how a presbytery might provide shepherding leadership for its churches toward racial reconciliation; and
Be it finally resolved, that the 44th General Assembly remind the churches and presbyteries of the PCA that BCO 31-2 and 38-1 provide potent and readily available means for dealing with ones who have sinned or continue to sin in these areas.
Given the Southern roots of the PCA, this statement is a reflection of God’s grace to our Church and to the healing work of the Spirit. The Overture makes reference to a pastoral letter – this letter can be found at the Mississippi Valley Presbytery website.
Accompanying this overture were complementary overtures that established a study committee to explore how to improve race relations and established a “Unity Fund” to help offset cost of theological training for minorities.
Another important matter considered was the establishment of a study committee on women serving in the ministry. Those proposed for the study committee are: Dan Doriani, Ligon Duncan, Susan Hunt, Irwyn Ince, Kathy Keller, Mary Beth McGreevy and Harry Reeder. This likely will be the next big matter the PCA will tackle in the coming years.
To find out more about General Assembly decisions, please go to the PCA web magazine.