Monday, April 27, 2009

PCA & Deaconesses

One of my ministerial colleagues, Rev. Tim Bayly, has been blogging about the on-going saga in the PCA about some churches and presbyteries that are circumventing our constitution in order to 'empower' women to serve in the church. This is not a new issue -- I've reported on it several times on this blog. Furthermore, I served on the General Assembly Committee to Review Presbytery Records the last two years and we have cited the offending presbyteries for failure to comply with the Book of Church Order (BCO).

His posts over the last two weeks have been enlightening, to say the least. Actually my emotions have run the gamut from "No, not again," to "Praise God that someone is protesting.' Here is a brief chronology:

April 9, 2009 it is reported that three presbyteries, Metro New York, Northern California and Philadelphia are circulating a position paper on the topic of deaconesses. At the time Metro New York and Northern California had adopted it. Philadelphia was taking extra time to perfect the language.

April 16, 2009 the declarations of the position paper are made public. Some of the declarations are perfectly consistent with the BCO (items 1 & 2), some are permissible and not in violation of the BCO (3 & 4), while the final two declarations (5 & 6) clearly violate the BCO. It is these practices that the Committee to Review Presbytery Records flagged in 2007 and 2008. It is also reported that complaints have been filed in the presbyteries of Northern California and Metro New York challenging the constitutionality of adopting this paper.

April 21, 2009 it is reported that a fourth presbytery, Metro Atlanta, has joined the bandwagon by adopting this position paper.

April 23, 2009 it is reported how the paper was initially introduced at the November 2008 meeting of Metro New York Presbytery. Furthermore, additional text from the paper is made public. The paper is an attempt to 'solve' debate in the PCA by approving a wide variety of practices concerning deacons and deaconesses, some of which violate our constitution. Adoption of the paper effectively amends the PCA's constitution apart from the appointed means of an overture to General Assembly with subsequent votes in each presbytery.

April 24, 2009 it is reported that Rocky Mountain Presbytery has adopted a clear and concise statement on this topic which is fully consistent with the BCO.

April 24, 2009 the actual complaint against Metro New York Presbytery is made public.

If you'd like to read the complete posts visit The Bayly Blog. You might also want to check back from time to time for updates.


Marshall said...

Thank you for your concise chronology. This is helpful.

I see that the dreams of some of our PCA leaders for a million-member denomination are definitely "on the ropes." I imagine that we will see a split into two denominations in the not so very far off future.

It is interesting, too, that we are now seeing in the PCA what has happened in the Liberal denominations in years gone by. That is: the people who want to change things are never content to go off and start a new denomination. They always want to change the one they are in.

Dave Sarafolean said...


Indeed it is troubling that some view the BCO as advisory instead of binding. This isn't the only issue of polity that is being slugged out in the various presbyteries.

A million member denomination? That's scary given how difficult it is to manage things at our current size of 350,000.