The Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly, meeting in Mobile, Ala., voted on June 23 to approve Overture 43 on racial reconciliation. This action began when a personal resolution on racial reconciliation was presented to the 43rd PCA General Assembly in 2015. After debate on the resolution, a motion was approved to recommend to the 44th GA that it consider the resolution further, and that churches and Presbyteries study the matter during the year. During this past year forty overtures were approved by Presbyteries and sent to the 44th GA. Many of the overtures were similar, affirming Overture 4 from Missouri Presbytery.
All of the overtures were referred to the Overtures Committee. After considering the overtures and the Overtures Committee voted to recommend that Overture 43 from Potomac Presbytery be answered in the affirmative as amended, and all other overtures be answered with reference to Overture 43. The action of the Overtures Committee, which adopted it by a vote of 8 5-3, was the recommendation presented to the General Assembly and debated on the floor on June 23.
The following was approved by the PCA General Assembly by a vote of 861-123, with 23 abstentions:
That Overture 43 be answered in the affirmative, as amended; and answer all racial reconciliation overtures with reference to this action:
Therefore be it resolved, that the 44th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of corporate and historical sins, including those committed during the Civil Rights era, and continuing racial sins of ourselves and our fathers such as the segregation of worshipers by race; the exclusion of persons from Church membership on the basis of race; the exclusion of churches, or elders, from membership in the Presbyteries on the basis of race; the teaching that the Bible sanctions racial segregation and discourages inter-racial marriage; the participation in and defense of white supremacist organizations; and the failure to live out the gospel imperative that “love does no wrong to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10); and
Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of past failures to love brothers and sisters from minority cultures in accordance with what the Gospel requires, as well as failures to lovingly confront our brothers and sisters concerning racial sins and personal bigotry, and failing to “learn to do good, seek justice and correct oppression (Isaiah 1:17);” and
Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly praises and recommits itself to the gospel task of racial reconciliation, diligently seeking effective courses of action to further that goal, with humility, sincerity and zeal, for the glory of God and the furtherance of the Gospel; and
Be it further resolved, that the General Assembly urges the congregations and presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church in America to make this resolution known to their members in order that they may prayerfully confess their own racial sins as led by the Spirit and strive towards racial reconciliation for the advancement of the gospel, the love of Christ, and the glory of God.
Be it further resolved, that the 44th General Assembly call the attention of churches and presbyteries to the pastoral letter contained in Overture 55 as an example of how a presbytery might provide shepherding leadership for its churches toward racial reconciliation; and
Be it finally resolved, that the 44th General Assembly remind the churches and presbyteries of the PCA that BCO 31-2 and 38-1 provide potent and readily available means for dealing with ones who have sinned or continue to sin in these areas.