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General Assembly Update

I had the privilege of attending the 48th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) at the end of June in St. Louis. Here are a few takeaways to report to my Southwood Family about our broader denomination.

Rejoicing in God’s Faithful Work
In a year where people and churches have faced unprecedented challenges, God continues to build his Church and Kingdom in amazing and encouraging ways! Here are a few examples to encourage you:

1) The worship services of General Assembly were especially life-giving. I’d commend all three sermons to you. If you watch only one thing from this year’s assembly, watch the recording of Pastor Russ Whitfield’s sermon from the Wednesday worship service.

2) Despite the closure or departure of several churches in recent months, even during the pandemic PCA churches were planted for a net gain of 13 churches this year!

3) I got to serve on a committee for Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), where I heard stories of new campus ministries, students coming to faith in Christ during Zoom meetings for closed campuses, and leaders being developed for the future Church.

4) Although the PCA is relatively small compared to many denominations, PCA pastors currently serve as executive directors of the World Reformed Fellowship, the Gospel Coalition, the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization, and the National Association of Evangelicals. Three of these four leaders are Korean-American PCA pastors.

Considering Human Sexuality
The most discussed topic ahead of this year’s assembly concerned issues of human sexuality, homosexuality, and the Church. We received and commended with great unity a report from a committee who worked for the last year-plus to provide guidance to our churches on these matters. The 60-page report features 12 statements of biblical truth, extensive biblical analysis, and a detailed resource section for churches, parents, and individuals wrestling with these issues.

In addition, there were two overtures discussed relating to these issues and candidates for ordination in the Church. It was encouraging to see us work hard to hold biblical fidelity and neighbor love together well within our church constitution. If you ever feared the PCA was losing its biblical moorings, you should be greatly encouraged. Both recommendations continue to elicit much discussion as local presbyteries now take up the conversation through this next year. I’m happy to discuss the nuances of these issues with you if you want to know more.

Honoring Our Minority Brothers and Sisters
The PCA continues to learn and grow (we have a long way to go!) in how to love and learn from minority members of God’s Family. Preachers at the Assembly worship services included an African-American and an Asian-American, and seminars addressed these issues, including how to think biblically about critical race theory.

Specifically, the Assembly approved a statement and directed prayer toward the Asian-American community. After acknowledging our Racial and Ethnic Reconciliation Report from three years ago and its addressing the image of God and the sin of racism, the Assembly added, “We recognize the pain, and, at times, violence, that the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has experienced, particularly due to events of the past year. We express our grief together with our AAPI brothers and sisters over the pain and suffering that has occurred, whether this has happened due to unbiblical religious claims, racist pride, or any other cause. We, finally, assure our AAPI brothers and sisters of our love and support, and of our desire to walk together in ways that reflect the commitments of the Racial Reconciliation Report.”

Our upcoming Express Grace Conference will help us think about how we extend God’s welcome to those different from us in our own lives and communities.

Inviting You to General Assembly
I know most of you don’t enjoy church meetings the way I do or have as many friends who attend General Assembly each year. That said, I think all of us can benefit from experiencing the joyous worship of gathered thousands and having our horizons expanded for God’s work through our brothers and sisters around the country and the world. Consider making the trip to Birmingham next year (June 21-24, 2022) even for just one day of General Assembly – you won’t regret it!