Sunday, June 17, 2018

Final Reflections on PCA GA 2018

There is no particular order to what follows.

It was a very short assembly. The opening worship service began at 1:30 Wednesday afternoon and, except for the closing devotional at 8:00 Friday morning, everything had been done by 10:00 or so Thursday evening. I think part of the reason the Assembly moved so well was that Irwyn Ince was a very effective moderator.

The Overtures Committee is to be commended for their excellent work. I just wish that all presbyteries had sent commissioners.

The informational reports are a waste of time. The information is in the Commissioner’s Handbook. Let the commissioners read those. Then the various committees wouldn’t have to spend money making infomercials.

The Committees of Commissioners for the various permanent committees and agencies have become rubber stamps for the committees and agencies. They are supposed to function in a checks-and-balances fashion, but they have long since ceased to do so. I was embarrassed for the Covenant College CoC with regard to the issue about putting women on the board. It struck me that the CoC in that case served as the advocate for Covenant College, rather than the devil’s advocate.

This assembly began the process of making consistent our constitutional statements on the nature of marriage.

The ratio of TEs to REs remained about 4-1. I don’t entertain any real hope of this changing anytime soon, though I continue to pray for a change.

I am becoming more convinced that we don’t need an annual GA. It didn’t strike me that there was anything done this year that would have been damaged by being put off to next year.

I still think we need a delegated assembly. As it is, “grass-roots Presbyterianism” looks more and more like the Southern Baptist convention with wet babies.

Perhaps, with 87 presbyteries, it is time to start thinking about synods. If presbyteries need to divide (or “multiply” as apparently the new buzzword is), that could be handled at the synod level without the need for the GA to render a judgment on it. As it is, the Assembly usually rubber stamps those requests.

Perhaps we could improve the TE to RE ratio if only the following TEs were allowed voting privileges: TEs who are currently serving as pastors, associate pastors, assistant pastors, RUF ministers, and those serving pastoral callings on the mission field. As a seminary professor, I would happily give up my voting privilege to someone who is actually pastoring a local church.

I’ll revisit these issues next year.


Susan Bennett said...

Thank you for reporting succinctly, Ben.

Jason A. Van Bemmel said...

One brief comment: I served on the Covenant College Committee of Commissioners this year. We had hours of productive debate on the issue of allowing for women to serve on the Covenant College Board of Trustees. It was clearly the College's desire to have women on the Board, but we engaged in a healthy and respectful discussion and, in the end, the language was very narrow and the vote was close. All-in-all, I basically agree with your perception of the CoCs, though.