The conclusion of the 1982 Assembly marked the end of an era of expansion, optimism, and pioneering. Most of those initial leaders would pass on by the time of the half-century mark. Still, the Church had now absorbed an entire denomination with its various agencies, missions, presbyteries, and churches. Most realized that true union was not merely organizational and that large sub-cultures would need to continue in mutual trust for the PCA to grow as wished. The next decade would test those values and unity.
Below is another excerpt from TE David Hall’s new book, Irony and the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. Hall has graciously provided a few samples of his latest volume to give the readers of Mid the Pines a fresh look at the first history published in conjunction with the PCA’s 50th Anniversary.
David Hall joins a long line of scholars to chart God’s faithfulness to His Church. The excerpt below details the efforts to build on the union between the PCA with the RPCES in joining and receiving. The now larger PCA experienced growth and growing pains as new questions regarding confessional subscription emerged. Read on below or purchase TE Hall’s volume available as kindle or hardcopy.
The 1982 (10th) Assembly: Union to Avoid Duplication
By David W. Hall
By the time that the 10th GA convened, returning to the campus of Calvin College with several other NAPARC partners, it was clear that enough PCA presbyteries had approved joining with the RPCES. Leading up to this Assembly, though, proponents on both sides of the issue were recruiting supporters to the very beginning of RPCES Synod. The new denomination had nearly quadrupled its membership in its first decade and doubled the number of presbyteries. Teaching elders, as had become the norm, had a nearly 2:1 ratio to ruling elders for these important debates.
When the Assembly began, Francis Schaeffer was invited to give a keynote address to this Assembly as part of the celebration of the J&R. Retiring Moderator Paul Settle announced that by more than a 3/4 margin the RPCES had approved the J&R with a 322-90 vote. Similarly, the PCA had obtained the requisite votes to effect union (25 presbyteries in favor, with none opposing); thus, the RPCES commissioners were soon included as registered commissioners of the 10th GA. Notwithstanding, by an 18-7 vote of the PCA presbyteries, the invitation to the OPC failed by one presbytery vote to receive the needed supermajority support and was discontinued for a time.
Before Dr. Schaeffer spoke to the now-united churches, a few border disputes among presbyteries needed adjustment, and this was assigned to a sub-committee to reconcile as soon as possible. The other largely formal matters below (Min10GA, 320) were approved as this committee concluded its work and was dissolved.
The Committee requested the Committee on Administration also to appoint legal counsel to work with the general counsel of the RPCES to assure that wills, trusts, corporations, and property matters are properly cared for in the transition process.
Steps were taken to assure that trustees in the RPCES with fiduciary responsibilities will not be placed in jeopardy when their responsibilities are transferred to corresponding members in the PCA.
The Ad Interim Committee wishes to thank the Coordinators, staff members, committee chairmen and others in the PCA who cooperated so willingly and fully with the efforts to facilitate the transition procedures of the Joining and Receiving. Appreciation is also expressed to our brethren in the OPC and RPCES who have so graciously worked with us as we have explored the possibility of ‘effecting one church.’
Though we regret that the OPC will not at this time be participating in the Joining and Receiving process, we pray that our sovereign God will allow us to continue already successful joint efforts in ministry and to expand our common witnessunto a day when we may indeed realize the hope of organizational unity to His glory.