Dear Hope Church Family,
I am fresh off a business trip to St. Louis for our denomination’s annual General Assembly. Part of Hope’s annual budget goes toward sending your pastors to General Assembly, so thank you! I hope that I represented Hope Church well this year.
Since most of you were probably not following along with the livestream, I’d like to fill you in on some of the highlights:
For those unfamiliar with how the PCA works, we have three levels of “courts”: (1) the local church, governed by ministers and elders; (2) the regional Presbytery, governed by ministers and elder representatives; and (3) the General Assembly (GA), which includes representatives from churches and presbyteries. Each level provides checks and balances, similar to our US system of government.
GA is made up of both worship and business. For the business portion, we use Robert’s Rules to help us make motions, discuss issues, and take votes, because we’re Presbyterians who do things “decently and in order.” Each PCA agency gives a report and makes recommendations, and there are several committees that have meetings before GA business begins on Tuesday evening. This year I was on the committee for Mission to the World, our missions sending agency.
There are many things encouraging about GA, including the chance to reconnect with friends from seminary and from around the PCA (including a friend of mine who’s a missionary in Malaysia!) But what’s most thrilling are the three worship services throughout the week. Not only are we treated to some of the best preaching the PCA has to offer, but singing praises to God along with 2000+ ministers, elders, and their family members is heavenly. I highly recommend Russ Whitfield’s sermon (link, go to 42:53), and I know some of you will be interested to see Sandra McCracken leading the singing on Thursday evening (link).
Also encouraging were reports from two study committees. The Study Committee on Human Sexuality was not only able to present their work, but a video discussion of that report with committee members Tim Keller and Kevin DeYoung walked us through each point (link, go to 2:09:04). You can read the full report here, which I have found to be filled with both grace and truth, affirming the historic, orthodox view of sexuality while also giving advice and resources on how to care well for LGBTQ folks in our midst.
A second study committee that had been put together to help the PCA deal with the issue of abuse in our churches and presbyteries will get one more year to complete their work. I’m thankful that women such as Darby Strickland and Rachael Denhollander were asked to advise the group based on their expertise in the area of abuse, and I’m looking forward to their report, which should be published in Spring 2022.
Last, if you don’t know much about the latest happenings in the PCA, I’d encourage you to watch a panel discussion between several pastors that I found to be both insightful and inspiring (link, go to 21:30).
Once again, thank you so much for generously sending us pastors to GA each year, so that we can participate in the work of the Church. If you have any questions about the inner workings of the General Assembly or the business that was conducted this year, I’d be happy to answer them.
See you Sunday!