Notes From This Year’s PCA General Assembly

Uptown’s Company of Pastors

In line with our vision to be a leadership greenhouse this past year we formed Uptown’s company of pastors. The idea came about as our pastors processed the desire to be good stewards of the resources he has blessed our church with and wanting to be an ongoing resource for those we have sent out. So, we formed a group consisting of previous interns that have stayed connected to the church, are currently serving in the PCA and have expressed a desire for us to continue to play a role in their lives as they serve in ministry. The idea is that we will stay in touch to support and encourage one another over email and we will meet in person on the Tuesday of each General Assembly. The inaugural meeting was a great success in which we discussed everything from the devotional life of the pastor (heart), sharpening ministry skills (Mind), the upcoming issues facing us at General Assembly (hands) and we prayed and ate together. This was officially before GA began, but it was definitely a highlight for many.

First Korean Moderator

On the first night of general assembly, one of the docketed items always includes the election of the General Assembly moderator. This role is filled by either a Teaching Elder and Ruling Elder and this year it was time to nominate a ruling elder. Although I am not normally a fan of the traditional flowery speeches that are given in these meetings this year’s election was one of the more encouraging because in a historical moment the General Assembly elected their first ethnic minority moderator! When Dr. Alexander Jun, a Korean-American, stepped onto the stage he was brought to tears of joy. In his acceptance, he gave an encouraging speech, in which he paused to address his fellow Koreans in Korean, and then promptly showed his sense of humor taking a selfie with PCA Stated Clerk Roy Taylor. For more info see here.

Women’s Study Committee

Last year the General Assembly voted to form a study committee to examine the roles that women play in ministry in the local church. Although one of the biblical tenents the PCA was formed on was that Scripture teaches men alone are called to the offices of Elder and Deacon, our denomination has made it abundantly clear that does not mean women are to be overlooked or underutilized in ministry. The reality is that in the PCA there is a wide range of views about where and how to include women in ministry, which made for a challenging task for this committee. Thankfully the committee was well balanced and well represented the PCA. Due to the challenges this group was facing I was personally impressed that the committee finished it’s work in a year and was ready to report back, Kudos to committee Chairman Irwin Ince. Here are some bullet point take aways:

  • Each GA has a key discussion/topic, this was it this year.
  • Normally we don’t get to start discussing the key issue(s) until Thursday afternoon, this year we jumped right in on Wednesday morning which was really helpful.
  • Those who scheduled this year’s general assembly also had the wisdom to set up a seminar that morning to discuss the issue and the report.
  • There were 45 minutes scheduled for this discussion and the end tally was over 4 hours.
  • The committee was hopeful they would be able to move all nine of their recommendations as one, but it quickly became clear that was impossible.
  • Many of the nine points were easy to approve, others proved more tricky. As it turned out the concerns that our pastors had about the report were shared by many and in my opinion, in those instances, the final draft ended up even more clear and conservative than the original report which represented the variety of views.
  • In the end, the report consisted of solid exegesis and encouraged Churches to think biblically about how they can allow women to use their God-given gifts to serve Christ in the local church. Therefore the report had an effect on churches that are not honoring God by not allowing women to serve in the variety of ways they can, as well as churches that might have overstepped in allowing women to serve in ways that are beyond scripture.
  • One of the viewpoints that I thought was the most interesting and helpful was that of Melissa Kruger who spent the morning with us listening to the Women in Ministry seminar. I was really glad to hear that it was Melissa’s sense that as a whole she felt women felt like things were in a great place in the PCA and that most churches were viewing the issue biblically in a way that best cared for their female members. It is certainly our prayer that Women in the PCA and specifically at Uptown feel this way!

Greensboro, N.C.

Each year GA takes place in a different city, this year the PCA gathered in Greensboro. It was nice to have it so close we could drive! Our meetings were in the convention center attached to our Hotel, the Sheraton. Although I wouldn’t describe that area as the nicest part of town we did venture into downtown for a lunch and an RTS Alumni event. I am glad we did because downtown Greensboro was really charming. If you ever go I highly recommend 1. eating at “Crafted the Art of the Taco,” Order the Mason of Bacon…double down on the salted caramel dipping sauce. 2. Checking out the Woolworth’s where one of the first peaceful sit-ins of the civil rights movement took place on Feb 1, 1960. This historic building is now a civil rights museum. Next year GA will be in Hotlanta.

Final Surface Level and Anecdotal Take Aways:

Although there was still a predominance of khakis and beards, those that were wearing them as they stood at microphones to speak seemed younger than ever… or maybe I am just older. Also, in the past two years, the PCA has expressed a clear desire to be more ethnically diverse. From my perspective, this isn’t just a goal, but rather it has become an encouraging reality. On Wednesday we attended a luncheon hosted by Mission to North America, the Church planting arm of the PCA. At that lunch it was great to hear Alex Shipman, a fellow RTS alumni, speak at the Mission to North America lunch on the opportunity and responsibility to raise up diverse leaders in the PCA. I went through some classes with Alex but never heard him speak such passionate and encouraging words.

All in all, it was a very encouraging General Assembly. I am thankful for our denomination.

For Christ and His Kingdom,

Dave

Author: Rev. Dave Kulp

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