The 2017 General Assembly received a report from the Ad Interim Committee on Women Serving in the Ministry of the Church. After modifying some of the recommendations, each of them was adopted by the General Assembly as a whole.
In early 2017, there was a lot of speculation that this committee was going to recommend that the PCA start ordaining women. That didn’t happen explicitly, but the committee did lay some necessary groundwork:
- They called for a new “commissioned church worker” designation that would be open to women. The committee took certain pains to say that “commissioning” someone was very different than ordaining them. Of course, if you’ve been to seminary and taken certain classes you’d probably recognize those differences and might even think they are significant. But to an outsider — for example, someone who is new to the PCA, to reformed theology, and/or to any church that takes its confession seriously — the difference is semantic at best. Once the difference between commissioning and ordaining is perceived to be merely semantic, it is much easier to convince people that we ought to be ordaining women in contravention of Scriptural norms.
- They observed that women are serving in many capacities throughout the PCA and they should continue to do so. The problem here is that some churches are allowing women to serve as deacons or as “deaconesses,” which is prohibited by Scripture (and the BCO). Once the General Assembly says that this practice is acceptable, the door to ordaining women cracks open even wider. (BTW, the church linked above is pastored by the Dean of Students at Covenant Theological Seminary, our denomination’s seminary. That sort of lends an air of legitimacy to this unauthorized practice already, doesn’t it?)
- They called for individual church sessions to think over all the recommendations and consider making recommendations of their own regarding ways in which women can serve in PCA churches. Of course, the only such recommendations that a session would need to formally commit to writing (as opposed to simply implementing directly in their own congregation) would be recommendations that change existing PCA policy — like, say, the policy on not ordaining women.
So this committee really got some wheels turning within the PCA and many wondered: who is on this committee? More specifically, how many REs were on this committee that set out to tinker with ordination?
There were precisely zero REs on that committee.
The requirement for a minimum number of REs on every PCA committee does not apply to ad interim committees.
MORE in the PCA feels that this needs to change. We know that had the plurality of elders principle been honored in the formation of this committee, we would have necessarily seen very different recommendations being reported out.
Overture 4 will change that and require that all ad interim committees have at least three REs among their maximum of seven members.
This is an overture that speaks directly to MORE in the PCA’s founding purpose, which is to give a real voice to REs in the denomination’s affairs. Therefore, we ENDORSE Overture 4 and encourage every PCA RE to:
- become a commissioner (if possible) at the 2018 General Assembly on June 12-15 in Atlanta and VOTE for Overture 4 if and when it comes to the floor
- go to presbytery and vote to support Overture 4 if your presbytery is considering a vote on it
- consider approving Overture 4 in your own session so that your presbytery can consider it and add to the grassroots demand for passage in the General Assembly
YES ON 4!