he Committee of Commissioners (CoC) on Overtures, the largest of all CoC’s, will be presenting recommendations not of approve several overtures that were of high interest this year.
The first was an Overture from Southern Florida Presbytery seeking term limits to be imposed for any new elected coordinators for the various PCA agencies who are elected annual by the General Assembly. (This overture would not affect those currently in those offices, where the current tenures of several are in double digits, including one of over 20 years.
The CoC voted overwhelmingly to recommend that this overture not be adopted. Writing the grounds for their recommendation (as required by the Rules of Assembly Operations) the Committee Chairman, Ruling Elder E. J. Nusbaum, was quoted as saying: “The overture would limit the options of the Assembly by prohibiting the extension of qualified program coordinators and stated clerks beyond 10 years without amending the [Book of Church Order].”
Similarly the CoC voted overwhelmingly voted against the recommendation of the Iowa Presbytery who overtured the General Assembly (Overture Number 8) to begin the process to give Chapter 59 of the Directory of Worship (concerning Marriage) constitutional status.
(Currently, the only chapters of the Directory of Worship having such status are those on the sacraments; with the rest of document not have the same status as the rest of the Book of Church Order.)
However, the CoC is recommending that the General Assembly adopt a brief statement setting forth the official position of the denomination as drawn from the Westminster Confession of Faith (Chapter 24 on Marriage and Divorce), from the Westminster Larger Catechism Questions 137, 138, and 139, and Westminster Shorter Catechism Questions 70, 71, 72 (dealing with sexual sin)
“..speak clearly to the Presbyterian Church in America’s understanding of the nature of marriage. As such, they may and should be referenced by any person needing to explain to any civil authority the Presbyterian Church in America’s understanding of marriage. Further, the second ordination vow [Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures….] makes clear that all teaching elders in the Presbyterian Church in America are bound by WCF 24, WLC 137-139, and WSC 70-72 even when in the service of the civil magistrate.“
The vote on this item was 80 yes, zero no, and 3 abstentions.
In the CoC on Christian Education and Publications the issue of giving special attention to the ministry to Senior Citizens came back again this year. At least year’s General Assembly, the CoC recommended and the GA voted not to approve a recommendation that a special Sunday in September (known publically as Grandparents Day) be set aside by PCA congregations as a time to honor Senior Citizens.
This year the recommendation was to set aside a special week (Monday through Saturday) be set aside to give attention to church ministries to Senior Citizens. The CoC voted against this recommendation as well, stating in their discussions that it was not necessary to denominational committees to set specific dates and times for such special attention and are presenting a revised recommendation simply recommending that the churches utilize the materials made available by CEP in this ministry area.