We submit this resource with two important caveats. First, many of these proposals from the Presbyteries were amended — and a few almost entirely rewritten — in the Overtures Committee. While the “whereas” statements in the initial forms may help presbyters to remember the original reasons for the amendments, they do not speak to the final form of the amendments, which is the only form that counts at this juncture. Second, these overtures obviously do not provide the strongest arguments against any of the proposals.
The list of Book of Church Order (BCO) amendments handed down to the Presbyteries from the 49th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is daunting. For a basic refresher on the amendments before us, including a breakdown of the votes that they received in Overtures and from the General Assembly, see TE Scott Edburg’s excellent article, Proposed Constitutional Amendments before the PCA in 2022.
The length of the list of amendments this year, however, may pose unique challenges to keep all of the goals, purposes, and reasoning for these amendments in mind. Most in the PCA probably understand the rationales behind the more public and controversial proposals, such as Items 1, 4, 5, and 7, even though some may disagree with those rationales. On the other hand, fewer will remember the technical reasoning behind some of the more procedurally focused proposed amendments, such as Items 2, 3, 6, 8, 9–12.
Often, the reasons for these amendments are listed in the Whereas clauses or the rationales written in the original overtures. That reasoning, however, gets stripped out after adoption by the General Assembly, and the Presbyteries receive only the amendment language itself. To help recall some of the original arguments in support of these amendments, here is a list of links to the original overtures as submitted by their respective Presbyteries.