We should not be surprised to see more men and congregations leave the PCA for the EPC, ECO, RCA, and other American Presbyterian and/or Reformed denominations out of NAPARC. The pipeline in the direction of churches that are philosophically committed to more peaceful “bigger tent” expressions of Reformed faith and practice is certainly fuller than the pipeline leading to more theologically narrow NAPARC-affiliated denominations.
At each year’s meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), the Stated Clerk gives an annual report at the beginning of business. In his report, the Clerk takes an opportunity to reflect on significant developments in the life of the Church. His words stir up excitement among the brethren as the Lord continues to build His church around the world, and especially as the PCA continues to grow.
However, the Clerk’s report routinely includes lamentable news of church closures and transfers out of the PCA. As part of his first Clerk’s address before the Assembly, TE Bryan Chapell addressed news of several recent departures from the denomination. Since the 41st General Assembly in 2013, the Clerk’s printed statistical report has included details about the addition of individual ministers to the Church as well as the loss of ministers from the denomination.
Recent blog posts by TE David P. Cassidy (here and here), TE Travis Scott, TE Jon D. Payne (here and here), TE Ryan Biese (in a multi-part series found here) and others have publicly suggested (from a variety of perspectives) that perhaps now is the time for churches and ministers who are out of step with either the culture or the published doctrine of the PCA to leave the denomination. If now is indeed the time for some brothers to leave, then I suspect that we would see individual ministers and congregations doing just that.
As we review the Minutes of the 48th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America, what information can we glean about recent losses from the denomination? As the title of this blog post suggests, we can research the Minutes for information about recent departures by asking, “where are they now?”
The various lists of congregations added, transferred, or dissolved is found on pages 134-136 of the Minutes as part of the statistical portion of the Stated Clerk’s report. Similar lists of individual ministers added to the PCA, dismissed to other denominations, or otherwise removed from office are found on pages 136-142.
After comparing the statistical reports on pages 134-136 with other information I could find online (and with a few quick phone calls to several church offices), here are my summary findings (by no means infallible) for the changes in the roster of PCA congregations through 2019 and 2020: