Recently, the 48th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America convened in St. Louis, Missouri. While much important business was conducted in the span of a few days, considerable attention was directed to the issue of ordination standards, particularly as they relate to men who experience same-sex attraction.

Specifically, the General Assembly (GA) voted on three key overtures concerning topics of gender and sexuality in the life of the church.

First, GA voted to answer Overture 38 in the affirmative, commending the Report of the Ad Interim Committee on Human Sexuality as a biblically faithful declaration.

Second, GA considered Overture 23, which proposed an amendment to chapter 16 of the PCA’s Book of Church Order (BCO) on the qualifications for officer ordination. After the Overture was amended substantially by the Overtures Committee (OC), the Assembly voted to answer in the affirmative as amended by a vote of 1438-417.

Finally, the Assembly voted on Overture 37, which moved to amend BCO 21 and 24 on the examination of officer candidates. Overture 37 proposed inserting into the BCO language that was less clear and less precise than the language of Overture 23. What is more, Overture 37 presented a problem because Overtures 23 and 37 sought to amend different but closely related parts of the Book of Church Order. If handled poorly, these two separate votes could introduce confusing, conflicting, even contradictory language into the BCO. To address these problems, a Minority Report offered a substitute motion that attempted to clarify the language of Overture 37 and bring it into conformity with Overture 23 but was defeated. Subsequently, the Assembly voted to answer Overture 37 in the affirmative as amended by a vote of 1130-692.[1]

As a member of the Overtures Committee (OC) and the principal author and presenter of the Minority Report on Overture 37, I would like to briefly summarize the events leading up to the submission of the Minority Report on Overture 37 and to share the full text of the Minority Report. My prayer is that this will add a measure of clarity concerning the actions of the OC and General Assembly while simultaneously alerting PCA elders, PCA members, and the wider church to the problematic imprecision of the language of Overture 37.

A Brief Summary of Necessary Background

On Monday June 28, after a resounding 124-3-0 vote to recommend that the Assembly answer Overture 38 in the affirmative, the OC began deliberation on Overture 37.

Overture 37 proposed to amend BCO 21-4 on the examination of Teaching Elders and BCO 24-1 on the examination of Ruling Elders and Deacons. The Overture as amended by the OC would add the following paragraph to both sections of the BCO:

In the examination of the candidate’s personal character, the presbytery shall give specific attention to potentially notorious concerns, such as but not limited to relational sins, sexual immorality (including homosexuality, child sexual abuse, fornication, and pornography), addictions, abusive behavior, racism, and financial mismanagement. Careful attention must be given to his practical struggle against sinful actions, as well as to persistent sinful desires. The candidate must give clear testimony of reliance upon his union with Christ and the benefits thereof by the Holy Spirit, depending on this work of grace to make progress over sin (Psalm 103:2-5, Romans 8:29) and to bear fruit (Psalm 1:3; Gal. 5:22-23). While imperfection will remain, he must not be known by reputation or self-profession according to his remaining sinfulness, but rather by the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 6:9-11). In order to maintain discretion and protect the honor of the pastoral office, Presbyteries are encouraged to appoint a committee to conduct detailed examinations of these matters and to give prayerful support to candidates.

The OC voted to recommend that the Assembly answer Overture 37 in the affirmative as amended by a margin of 82-43-1.When this happened, a committee member gave notice that a Minority Report would be filed.

On Tuesday June 29, the OC turned to Overture 23 from Gulf Coast Presbytery, which proposed to amend BCO 17 on the qualifications for ordained office by adding the following clause:

Men who self-identify as a “gay Christian,” “same-sex attracted Christian,” “homosexual Christian,” or like term shall be deemed not qualified for ordination in the Presbyterian Church in America.

The OC amended Overture 23 by moving the added clause to BCO 16, striking the specific linguistic restrictions, and altering the provision to reflect the language the OC had previously approved for Overture 37:

Men who are known by reputation or self-profession according to their remaining sinfulness (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction, same sex desire, and homosexuality) shall be deemed not qualified to hold office in the Presbyterian Church in America (BCO 21-4; 24-1).

When the OC voted to answer Overture 23 in the affirmative as amended by a vote of 88-38-2, another Minority Report was announced.

On Wednesday June 30, the OC reconvened to reconsider its action on Overture 23. In the preceding hours, several members of the OC had been in discussion concerning how Overture 23 might be amended in a manner that would reflect the broad consensus of the OC and promote unity within the General Assembly and the denomination.

After a few minor edits by the OC, the proposed amendment to Overture 23—which reflected the “consensus” language that committee members had previously agreed upon in outside discussion—read thus:

Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. Those who profess an identity that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction), or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions are not qualified for ordained office.

This language had initially met with the approval of a broad contingent of the OC because it moved away from establishing apparent language tests for ordination and instead specified the theological and behavioral issues that conversation among OC members had revealed were the core concerns in question. Whereas the initially approved Overture 23 relied upon profoundly ambiguous language of “reputation” and “self-profession,” this version of the Overture clarified that there are three ways that an officer candidate may be found to have adopted an impermissible identity: either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desire, or denying progressive sanctification, or failing to pursue Christian holiness. While one could certainly make the argument that—because all of these requirements are already contained in the constitutional documents of the PCA—the Overture is unnecessary and redundant,[2] or that the Overture problematically foregrounds the logic and nebulous terminology of expressive individualism in its focus on professed personal identity, insofar as the PCA insisted on making a statement of this sort, this version accurately illumined the issues and precisely named the three markers that disqualify candidates.

The “consensus” language of Overture 23, however, did not come to a vote before a parenthetical amendment was added, reintroducing the very terms that had been stricken in the OC’s first consideration of the Overture. The amendment is bolded:

Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. Those who profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, “gay Christian,” “same sex attracted Christian,” “homosexual Christian,” or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction), or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions are not qualified for ordained office.

Significantly, though the amendment added discrete linguistic identifiers to the Overture, the structure of the Overture remained unchanged. The second half of the sentence in question (“either by…”) continued to specify the theological and behavioral markers that constitute an impermissible identity. Thus—even with the parenthetical insertion—a candidate who calls himself a “same-sex attracted Christian” but does not deny the sinfulness of fallen desire, deny progressive sanctification, or fail to pursue Spirit-empowered holiness would not fall into the category of having undermined or contradicted his identity in Christ. Alternatively, any candidate whose theology or behavior could be described by the proscriptions would be disqualified, regardless of the terms he might use to describe his identity.

In spite of the added parenthetical language, the OC voted to answer Overture 23 in the affirmative as amended by a vote of 106-12-0, and the Minority Report for this Overture was withdrawn. Due to the added parenthesis—which I considered to be an unnecessary, unhelpful, potentially confusing,[3] and ultimately ineffective attempt to introduce linguistic restrictions into the Overture that did not reflect the consensus brought to the OC—I voted no.

Nevertheless, because the amended language of Overture 23 exhibited greater precision than Overture 37, and because the language of Overture 23 (rightly interpreted according to its syntactical structure) guarded against the disqualification of candidates merely on the basis of particular self-identifying language, I began drafting a Minority Report on Overture 37 that proposed a substitute motion to amend Overture 37 to reflect the language of Overture 23.[4]

To summarize: Overture 37 was approved, and Overture 23 was initially amended to reflect the language of Overture 37. When the OC reconvened, they voted to alter the language of 23 to more closely reflect the emerging consensus of the OC. The text of Overture 37, however, remained the same, introducing divergence where there had previously been intentional conformity of language and creating a scenario in which closely related portions of the BCO would be amended in ways that are, at best, confusing and are quite possibly contradictory, insofar as they utilize substantively different categories to describe the same basic phenomenon of an impermissible profession of identity. The Minority Report proposal to amend Overture 37 was intended to correct this problem, reflecting the new, superior language of Overture 23.

The Minority Report

What follows is the full text of the Minority Report.[5] The document was signed by twenty-seven members of the OC.


OVERTURES COMMITTEE

MINORITY REPORT

On Overture 37

The minority agrees with the majority that not only the teaching but also the personal character of the candidate for ordained office in the Presbyterian Church in America is of crucial significance. The honor of Jesus Christ and the protection of the church is at stake, and examining bodies have the responsibility to deny ordination to those who would by their false teaching or immoral behavior cause harm to the church. We agree that the examination of candidates for ordained office should be thorough in this regard, and we agree that examining candidates in regard to notorious sins is vitally important. Such sins in the life of the church’s officers bring dishonor to Jesus Christ by painfully betraying the members of his church and scandalizing all who become aware of such acts. Examinations of this type operate within the scope of the qualifications for office outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and in our Book of Church Order (21-4; 24-1).

However, we believe that, while Overture 37 intends to assist Sessions and Presbyteries in this important work, the Overture will in fact have the opposite effect if adopted, hindering this work by unintentionally adding further uncertainty and confusion to Sessions, Presbyteries, and candidates as they prepare for and conduct examinations. The clarity for which the Overture rightly aims remains unachieved in its current form due to the ambiguity of its language and instruction. Thus, this Overture will not only fail to serve the church well but quite possibly will lead to interminable debates among those responsible for conducting examinations and to a proliferation of cases in the church’s courts.

We urge the General Assembly to answer Overture 37 in the Affirmative as amended by the substitute motion.

Motion of the Minority Report

We, the minority, move the following to be adopted as a substitute motion to the recommendation of the Overtures Committee on Overture 37:

That, for the examination of Teaching Elders, BCO 21-4 be amended as follows to add a new sub-paragraph 21-4.e, with the subsequent sub-paragraphs [21-4.e-h] re-lettered [to be 21-4.f-i]:

BCO 21-4

e. In the examination of the candidate’s personal character, the presbytery shall give specific attention to potentially notorious concerns, such as but not limited to relational sins, sexual immorality (including homosexuality, child sexual abuse, fornication, and pornography), addictions, abusive behavior, racism, and financial mismanagement. Careful attention must be given to his practical struggle against sinful actions, as well as to persistent sinful desires. The candidate must give clear testimony of reliance upon his union with Christ and the benefits thereof by the Holy Spirit, depending on this work of grace to make progress over sin (Psalm 103:2-5, Romans 8:29) and to bear fruit (Psalm 1:3; Gal. 5:22-23). While imperfection will remain, he must not be known by reputation or self-profession according to his remaining sinfulness (e.g., homosexual desires, etc.), but rather by the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Candidates must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. Those who profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, “gay Christian,” “same sex attracted Christian,” “homosexual Christian,” or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction), or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions are not qualified for ordained office. In order to maintain discretion and protect the honor of the pastoral office, Presbyteries are encouraged to appoint a committee to conduct detailed examinations of these matters and to give prayerful support to candidates.

Be it further resolved that, for the examination of Ruling Elders and Deacons, BCO 24-1 be amended as follows by the addition of a second paragraph (addition italicized):

24-1. Every church shall elect persons to the office of ruling elders and deacon in the following manner: At such times as determined by the Session, communicant members of the congregation may submit names to the Session, keeping in mind that each prospective officer should be an active male member who meets the qualifications set forth in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. After the close of the nomination period nominees for the office of ruling elder and/or deacon shall receive instruction in the qualifications and work of the office. Each nominee shall then be examined in:

a. his Christian experience, especially his personal character and family management (based on the qualifications set out in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9),

b. his knowledge of Bible content,

c. his knowledge of the system of doctrine, government, discipline contained in the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America (BCO Preface III, The Constitution Defined),

d. the duties of the office to which he has been nominated, and

e. his willingness to give assent to the questions required for ordination (BCO 24-6).

In the examination of the candidate’s personal character, the presbytery shall give specific attention to potentially notorious concerns, such as but not limited to relational sins, sexual immorality (including homosexuality, child sexual abuse, fornication, and pornography), addictions, abusive behavior, racism, and financial mismanagement. Careful attention must be given to his practical struggle against sinful actions, as well as to persistent sinful desires. The candidate must give clear testimony of reliance upon his union with Christ and the benefits thereof by the Holy Spirit, depending on this work of grace to make progress over sin (Psalm 103:2-5, Romans 8:29) and to bear fruit (Psalm 1:3; Gal. 5:22-23). While imperfection will remain, he must not be known by reputation or self-profession according to his remaining sinfulness (e.g., homosexual desires, etc.), but rather by the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Candidates must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. Those who profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, “gay Christian,” “same sex attracted Christian,” “homosexual Christian,” or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction), or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions are not qualified for ordained office. In order to maintain discretion and protect the honor of the pastoral office, Presbyteries are encouraged to appoint a committee to conduct detailed examinations of these matters and to give prayerful support to candidates.

Rationale for the Minority Report

Assertion 1: Overture 37 must be brought into conformity with Overture 23 in order to prevent inconsistency and confusion between officer exams and the qualifications given for officers.

Currently, the language of Overture 37 is inconsistent with the language of Overture 23 as recommended by the Overtures Committee. Adoption of such inconsistent language would create conflict within the BCO between the provisions regarding the qualifications for ordained office and the provisions regarding the examination of candidates for ordination. In such a scenario, the internal conflict within the BCO would create immediate confusion in Sessions and Presbyteries.

The substitute motion of the Minority Report brings the language of Overture 37 into conformity with the language of Overture 23 such that BCO 16-4 on the qualifications for ordained office aligns without conflict with BCO 21-4; 24-1 on the examination of candidates for ordained office.

Unless this motion is adopted, the BCO requirements for the examination of officer candidates will not conform to the BCO qualifications for ordained office recommended in Overture 23 and will thus be of little help and considerable detriment to Sessions and Presbyteries in their task of examining officer candidates to discern whether they are truly qualified for office.

Assertion 2: The BCO provisions regarding the examination of officer candidates’ personal character should be both clear and clearly rooted in the language of Scripture and our Standards.

Despite Eastern Pennsylvania Presbytery’s claim in the original rationale for Overture 37 that “the answer to contemporary debates is better made with biblical and confessional language rather than the introduction of contemporary terms which cause confusion” (CH 2021, p. 147, lines 1–3), the Overture in fact does not lean upon the terminology and phrasing of Scripture or our Confessional documents but introduces a novel and nebulous phrase that depends upon confusing contemporary terms.

A key provision of the Overture declares, “While imperfection will remain, he must not be known by reputation or self-profession according to his remaining sinfulness, but rather by the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 6:9-11).” There is an unresolved and perilous ambiguity in the provision as written. What does it mean to be known by reputation or self-profession according to one’s remaining sinfulness?

“Self-Profession”

In the phrase “known by…self-profession according to his remaining sinfulness,” how is “self-profession” defined? What actual behavior constitutes “self-profession”? Overture 37 fails to provide presbyteries clarity about what constitutes the disqualifying self-profession.

Does the phrase “known by…self-profession” in the Overture mean that the candidate must not embrace same-sex attraction as a fundamental, commendable, and absolutely intractable feature of his identity? Or does the language in question mean that a candidate cannot even profess to experiencing same-sex attraction, though it be daily mortified by Word and Spirit, because such disclosure would result in his being known according to his remaining sinfulness? Would that constitute “self-profession”?

What if, in an article online, a candidate notes that he is same-sex attracted as a simple fact of his personal history, but before his Presbytery he explicitly professes that his identity is in Christ? Might some of the members of the Presbytery maintain, “The candidate is disqualified because he calls himself same-sex attracted,” while other Presbytery members claim, “The candidate is not making a ‘self-profession’ but merely talking about his experience”? Could we fault them for their confusion?

The Report of the Ad Interim Committee on Human Sexuality addresses the question thus:

Finally, issues surrounding sexual identity, and identity more generally, cannot be reduced to language alone. There is a way to make being gay central to personhood, while still using circumspect or “acceptable” language. Similarly, there is a way to make being gay far less central to one’s ethos and identity, even while using potentially less helpful language. For these reasons, how persons express themselves is not finally determinative of their identity. (Report, p. 2329, lines 21–26)

The ambiguous language of “self-profession” in Overture 37 is open to plausible interpretations that run counter to the wise and clear counsel of the Ad Interim Committee. Further, the imprecision of the Overture ensures that, rather than resolving current questions, adoption of the Overture would only provoke endless debate over intended meaning.

“Reputation”

In the phrase “known by reputation…according to his remaining sinfulness,” we encounter similar questions.

Does the phrase “known by reputation” mean that the candidate must not be publicly known for acting upon same-sex desire or for embracing same-sex attraction as a good or morally neutral aspect of his fundamental identity? Or does the language in question mean that a candidate who discloses unwanted, repented of, and daily mortified same-sex attraction and has this disclosure publicized—whether willingly or unwillingly—is disqualified because his remaining sinfulness has become a matter of public knowledge and, presumably, part of his public reputation?

What if a candidate names his experience of same-sex attraction before his Presbytery and explicitly professes that his identity is in Christ, but an online outlet publishes a report of the disclosure of his same-sex attraction while inadvertently neglecting to mention his affirmation that his identity is in Christ? What if the omission of his affirmation of Christ-rooted identity is the work of malicious actors intending to spread a false report? Would these scenarios constitute a disqualifying reputation?

Or consider this possibility: a man practiced homosexuality prior to becoming a Christian, at which point he trusts the gospel, reorients his self-conception around his union with Christ, and even marries a godly Christian woman. Over the ensuing years, this man writes numerous faithful books to minister to others experiencing same-sex attraction, speaks to large crowds about same-sex attraction and the gospel, and reaches a global audience even as he experiences persistent and unwanted same-sex attraction. If such a man were to pursue ordination, would he be disqualified? He is recognized around the world as a Christian who experiences same-sex attraction. Though some presbytery members might claim that his fundamental identity is in Christ, could not others reasonably object that this man is “known by reputation…according to his remaining sinfulness”? Would the General Assembly wish to see this man deemed disqualified? What in Overture 37 would prevent it?

Again, the imprecision of Overture 37 ensures that, rather than resolving current questions, adoption of the Overture would only provoke endless debate over intended meaning.

Consequence: Confusion and Conflict in the Courts of the Church

If Overture 37 is affirmed, Sessions and Presbyteries will be left with the fraught task of attempting to discern the will of the Assembly by deciding between multiple plausible and competing interpretations of the ambiguous key provision. The foreseeable result is that different Sessions and Presbyteries will arrive at markedly different conclusions regarding the proper interpretation of the provision; that, within Sessions and Presbyteries, individual members will interpret and attempt to apply the provision in divergent ways; and that officer candidates will lack clear direction as to what is expected of them. This will only exacerbate the confusion the Overture is attempting to alleviate. This is a predictable, lamentable, and avoidable scenario that the General Assembly ought not thrust upon our churches, courts, and candidates.

In short, Overture 37 is perilously ambiguous and will almost certainly instigate confusion and conflict in the courts of the church.

Substitute Motion: Clear and Clearly Rooted in the Language of Scripture and Our Standards

In contrast to Overture 37, the substitute motion of the Minority Report offers clear and precise language to instruct the church’s courts, naming actual and identifiable markers—both doctrinal and behavioral—that would disqualify an officer candidate. Rather than leaving Sessions and Presbyteries with the impossible task of determining with confidence what constitutes an impermissible reputation or self-profession, the substitute motion offers three discernible markers of a candidate that would require his disqualification:

1. Denying the sinfulness of fallen desires

2. Denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification

3. Failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions

Further, this precise language of the substitute motion is also rooted in the language of Scripture and our Standards. Whereas Overture 37 introduces the novel and nebulous contemporary terminology of “self-profession according to his remaining sinfulness”—a phrase found nowhere in the Bible or our Confessional documents—the substitute motion introduces no such contemporary language or concept in the criteria for qualification.

The substitute motion’s assertion that officer candidates must be “above reproach” is grounded in the teaching of 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6-7, and the concept of Christlike character invokes the qualities commended throughout the New Testament, not least in 1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6.

The substitute motion’s reference to the sinfulness of fallen desires is in full accord with WCF 6.5: “This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.”

The substitute motion’s reference to the reality and hope of progressive sanctification is in full accord with WCF 13.2–3:

2. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh

3. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

The substitute motion’s reference to the pursuit of Spirit-empowered victory over sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions employs the categories of WLC Q. 25 and Q. 138:

The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.” (WLC Q. 25)

The duties required in the seventh commandment are, chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior; and the preservation of it in ourselves and others; watchfulness over the eyes and all the senses; temperance, keeping of chaste company, modesty in apparel; marriage by those that have not the gift of continency, conjugal love, and cohabitation; diligent labor in our callings; shunning all occasions of uncleanness, and resisting temptations thereunto. (WLC Q. 138)

Thus, unlike Overture 37, the substitute motion does not introduce imprecise and innovative language to describe the markers of disqualification in the examination of officer candidates but offers clear instruction that draws upon the rich language, concepts, and categories of Scripture and our Standards.

Conclusion

The language of Overture 37 is inconsistent with the language of Overture 23 as recommended by the Overtures Committee. Adoption of Overture 37 would create conflict within the BCO between the provisions regarding the qualifications for ordained office and the provisions regarding the examination of candidates for ordained office and would provoke immediate confusion in the Sessions and Presbyteries tasked with examining officer candidates.

Further, Overture 37 aims to codify imprecise contemporary terms in the BCO instructions for officer candidate examination which are not grounded in Scripture or our Standards and are open to multiple plausible and competing interpretations. Adoption of the Overture would generate confusion and conflict in the courts of the church.

In contrast, the substitute motion of the Minority Report brings the language of BCO 21-4 and 24-1 into conformity with the language of BCO 16-4 as recommended in Overture 23. The substitute motion provides precise and actionable instructions for Sessions and Presbyteries regarding the examination of officer candidates in language rooted in Scripture and our Standards.

We therefore urge the General Assembly to answer Overture 37 in the Affirmative as amended by the substitute motion of this Minority Report.


Footnotes

  1. Vote totals as reported by “General Assembly Updates for July 1,” byFaith, July 2, 2021, https://byfaithonline.com/general-assembly-updates-for-july-1/.
  2. Indeed, it was stated multiple times on the floor of the OC that, to the speakers’ knowledge, no one currently ordained in the PCA holds a position that would run afoul of any of these three markers. This suggests that, despite the intensity of current denominational concerns, the PCA’s constitutional documents and ordination requirements are doing their job exactly as intended.
  3. The headline of Emily McFarlan Miller, “Presbyterian Church in America leaders say those who identify as gay are not qualified for ordination,” The Washington Post, July 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/presbyterian-church-in-america-leaders-say-those-who-identify-as-gay-are-not-qualified-for-ordination/2021/07/02/1023d52a-db8b-11eb-8c87-ad6f27918c78_story.html is a case in point. The first sentence of the article states, “Pastors and church leaders in the Presbyterian Church in America passed an overture at its General Assembly this week saying those who identify as gay are not qualified for ordination in the conservative Presbyterian denomination.” A careful reading of the text of Overture 23 reveals that the Overture does no such thing, but the confusion—not least among those who are not involved in the PCA’s internal debates—is understandable and predictable.
  4. I must express my great appreciation to Derek Radney for his involvement in the creation of the Minority Report. His editorial eye, organizational clarity, insightful suggestions, and mere presence were of great benefit, especially given the intense time constraints on the drafting of the document.
  5. The Stated Clerk’s Office of the PCA holds the copyright on all GA materials. The official versions of this and any other document from GA are published exclusively by the Stated Clerk’s Office. Due to formatting restrictions, bold font is used below in place of double-underlining to indicate proposed additions to amendments.
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Posted by Trevor Laurence

Trevor Laurence is the Executive Director of the Cateclesia Institute (https://cateclesia.com) and a Ruling Elder at Trinity Church of Winston-Salem (PCA) in North Carolina.

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  1. […] firestorm of controversy as a result of actions and statements taken in the Anglican Church/REC and PCA. The arguments against using “gay Christian” or “same-sex attracted” […]

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