St. Louis, Missouri (July 3, 1998)-The 26th Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly this morning accepted the assurances of MNA officials with regard to the controversy over church planting in the West. Among other items, the memorandum from Philip Douglas (new MNA Chairman), Al Lacour (retiring MNA Chairman), and Cortez Cooper (MNA Coordinator) pledged those men "to devise regular procedures by which mission churches under MNA's guidance are reviewed periodically as to [MNA guidelines regarding worship], and to require such remedies as may be necessary to bring them into conformity." They also pledged to reaffirm an administrative directive and to bring to the October 1998 MNA Committee meeting a reaffirmation that all MNA staff "are servants of MNA/GA and our presbyteries, and possess no authority in themselves as individuals." Further, the memo pled with the Assembly "not [to] put upon MNA a task that the Assembly itself has been unable to perform, namely, the task of eliminating confusion and conflict as to what biblical worship is or is not. . . . We will submit to our brothers, but MNA cannot resolve issues that the Assembly has been unable to resolve."
At the heart of the dispute was New Song-Salt Lake, a PCA mission work which had employed alternative rock music and video clips of secular movies in its public worship services. Widespread coverage in Presbyterian and Reformed News and in a video, What's at Stake in the West, had brought the issues to the attention of many in the denomination.
In April, prior to the media coverage, Central Georgia Presbytery had overtured the Assembly to deny Northern California's proposed extension of boundaries; and to ask for an investigation of worship practices in Utah mission churches and whether MNA personnel had established a policy which effectively excluded men with a traditional understanding of worship from church planting in the West. Grace Presbytery also went on record in support of Central Georgia.
Although the motion was approved this morning, the debate occurred yesterday. The Committee of Commissioners had recommended that the Central Georgia and Grace overtures be answered in the negative, and had attached numerous grounds. One of those grounds stated that "several of the 'Whereas' clauses contain allegations which were found to be without substance." Upon motion from the floor, all those grounds were struck; and the overtures were answered in the negative "based upon the assurances set forth in the MNA memorandum."
The Assembly also voted not to extend Northern California's
boundaries. Instead, the court remanded the matter to the various
Western U. S. presbyteries for consideration. However, the Assembly
voted down a substitute motion by Rev. David Brown of Northern
California Presbytery which would have blocked the proposed extension
of boundaries until after the New Song-Salt Lake situation was
St. Louis, Missouri (July 2, 1998)-The Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly voted tonight to establish a study committee on the question of women in combat. The ad hoc committee is charged with studying not only women in combat, but also the question as to whether women ought to be in military uniform at all.
The appointment of the committee came in response
to an overture from Philadelphia Presbytery, which for the third
consecutive year has approached the Assembly asking for pronouncement
on the matter. It also comes on the heels of action by the
Southern Baptist Convention and the Reformed Presbyterian Church
of North America, which overwhelmingly called into question the
practice of sending women into battle. Last year, the Reformed
Church in the United States also condemned the practice.
St. Louis, Missouri (July 2, 1998)-Dr. Frank Barker, pastor of Birmingham's Briarwood Presbyterian Church, preached tonight at a special worship celebration at the Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly. The PCA is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary, and each of three nights was given to a sermon on one of the three themes of the PCA's original motto: "Loyal to Scripture, the Reformed faith, and faithful to the Great Commission."
Dr. Barker, who has been known for his evangelistic
zeal and commitment to world missions, was one of the founders
of the denomination. In his message, he spoke of the need not
only to evangelize but also to catechize and to teach all that
Christ had commanded.
St. Louis, Missouri (July 3, 1998)-In one of its final actions, the 26th Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly gave its rationale for why women should not read Scripture or lead in prayer in public worship. The court referred Southern Florida Presbytery "to I Corinthians 14:34; I Timothy 2:11-15; and Larger Catechism 155-159" in answering why that presbytery should not have allowed these practices in an installation service.
Last year, the Assembly had taken exception to Southern Florida's minutes because of this occurrence. The presbytery, rather than agreeing or disagreeing with that exception, asked the Assembly for rationale as to why the practices were unacceptable.
The Committee on Review of Presbytery Records had brought recommendation that the matter be referred to the Committee on Constitutional Business for answer. But a substitute motion from the floor proposed the answer that was adopted. The final recommendation was approved by about a 2-1 margin.
I Corinthians 14:34 says, "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law." I Timothy 2:11-12 says, "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." The Larger Catechism teaches that the reading of the Word and the preaching of the Word are ministerial acts, and that both are authoritative.
Women have been permitted in a number of PCA congregations
to lead in worship; but the practice has not been without controversy.
James River Presbytery has taken exception to the minutes of
the Session of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Charlottesville, VA,
for having women read Scripture in public worship.
MORE NEWS ON THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY WILL FOLLOW.
. . .