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The PCA and the ordination of women...

Presbyterian_Church_in_America_logo.jpeg-200x288.jpegAt her 44th General Assembly in Mobile, AL, the pastors and elders of the Presbyterian Church in America debated whether to form a study committee "made up of competent men and women representing the diversity of opinions within the PCA" whose task would be to study "the issue of women serving in the ministry of the church." The proposal did not come through the normal channel of a presbytery overture, but rather by recommendation of the Administrative Committee via their recently-formed Cooperative Ministries Committee (CMC).

Here is the language of their proposal focussing their study committee's work on whether Christ's Church should have women officers:

• That the Assembly form a study committee on the issue of women serving in the ministry of the church (RAO 9-1; 9-3). The Assembly authorizes the Moderator to appoint the study committee. The study committee should be made up of competent men and women representing the diversity of opinions within the PCA (RAO 9-1; Robert’s Rules of Order [11th edition], §13, pp. 174-175, §50, pp.495- 496, §50, pp. 497-498 §56, p. 579]).

• That the committee should give particular attention to the issues of:

(1) The biblical basis, theology, history, nature, and authority of ordination;

(2) The biblical nature and function of the office of deacon;

(3) Clarification on the ordination or commissioning of deacons/deaconesses;

(4) Should the findings of the study committee warrant BCO changes, the study committee will propose such changes for the General Assembly to consider.

• The committee will have a budget of $15,000 that is funded by designated donations to the AC from churches and individuals (RAO 9-2).

• A Pastoral Letter to be proposed by the ad interim study committee and approved by the General Assembly be sent to all churches, encouraging them to

(1) promote the practice of women in ministry,

(2) appoint women to serve alongside elders and deacons in the pastoral work of the church, and

(3) hire women on church staff in appropriate ministries.

The proposal that a pastoral letter encouraging the promotion, appointment, and hiring of women in the ministries of the church be sent out to the whole denomination even before the study committee is formed or begins deliberation shows the conclusions denominational leaders expect their hand-picked study committee members to bring back to the assembly at the conclusion of their work. The results of the committee's work, whatever it may conclude about the proper subjects of ordination, must make a move toward the expansion of women's work in the church. Forged after decades of functional egalitarianism in the PCA, the Cooperative Ministries Committee's proposal was about as groundbreaking and exciting as the leaves of Autumn falling and rotting.

Note the difference between the arguments of those for and those against the formation of the committee...

Ordination and the promotion of woman church officers in the PCA...

Under the post, "Rachel Miller's straw men...," a debate unfolded over the proper ordination of church officers. I believe in regular-old ordination as Presbyterians do it, with the necessity of a call, the vote of presbytery following their examination of the candidate and approval of his call, the laying on of hands, and prayer. This is how we ordain church officers in Clearnote Fellowship (sessions hold the examination of elders) and it was how I was ordained, also. That said, a couple comments.

First, when one of the two congregations I served in Pardeeville, Wisconsin voted to leave the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA), the joint board of elders of both churches had spent the previous year or so determining whether or not to leave the PC(USA), and if so, what denomination to transfer into? After looking at a number of denominations, our list shortened to the Christian Reformed Church, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and the Presbyterian Church in America. We announced to the two congregations that we believed we should leave the PC(USA) and we scheduled a vote on the matter for a couple months later. We also told our PC(USA) presbytery of our intentions.

For years I had been serving in presbytery leadership, but it did not matter: when we informed them of the coming vote, John Knox Presbytery sent in a special ops team to try to destroy the churches...