General Assembly, Part 3
I'm uber-late with this third installment. And I'll be extra brief.
Days 3-4 of General Assembly were probably the least exciting, but maybe the most significant denominationally. This was when most of the business hit the General Assembly floor (and debates ensued). But before that, I got to hear Jim Belcher speak about his book Deep Church. Jim is pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA. The book's been on my reading list for awhile, but I hadn't gotten to it. It's higher on my list post-seminar.
The rest of the Thursday (and Friday morning) I spent in Assembly Hall (watching mostly). Two important things happened. First, after five hours of debate, the GA affirmed a Strategic Plan for the denomination. Key components of the plan were a new model for funding the Administrative Committee (the PCA home office), and several strategic themes and goals for the denomination. The impetus for the Plan was the ever-shifting demographic and missiological realities in North America. The Strategic Plan is meant to help our churches move forward in engaging our culture and reaching more people. You can read about the Strategic Plan here.
For my part, I think the plan is a good thing, though it's a little wordy and in its current form, not all that useful. I'm hopeful that in years to come it will be boiled down to be made more useful for individual churches and Presbyteries. The main objections (and thus the cause for five hours of debate) had mostly to do with the perceived "top down" nature of the plan. The PCA has always been a grassroots family of churches, and being a denomination that came out of another denomination, lots of folks are skittish about too much in the way of denomination-wide directives. Some felt this way about the proposed funding of the Administrative Committee (for the first time churches will pay denominational "dues"), and others objected to one or more of the goals and means of the plan.
The second issue was about ordination of deacons. You can read about it here. But more or less, the PCA voted to maintain the idea that the ordained office of deacon is open to men only. However, churches may still have a separate board of deaconesses, and involve women in all sorts of other non-ordained ministry leadership.
There were plenty of other smaller denominational issues discussed and decided, but they are probably not of much interest to most. We made it home safely late Friday afternoon. And it was great to be back to worship at New City on July 4.