NW Georgia Presbytery Overture?

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Puritan Board Freshman
I am not a member of the PCA, but would love to read the thoughts of PCA guardians:

Click for link

From above:
"Here, our NWGP is on record as affirming that we believe that there is more efficacy in those ‘old paths,’ such as preaching, family worship, missions, worship, and unabashedly Christ-centered corporate life than in selective sociological findings or corporate strategizing, even from friends and the finest of leaders. While we do not believe that our friends on the CMC deny these means, neither would it be helpful to mangle our overture by amending to have these 17 points ‘alongside’ of the Strategic Plan—that is precisely the opposite of our overture. We are attempting to say no to the ideas in the Plan, and Yes, we believe God is doing just fine guiding his church through ordinary officers and members."

The voice of reason?


Puritan Board Freshman
Scott, PB says I don't have permission to view your link. Can you advise?

J. David Kear

Puritan Board Freshman
I posted a link to an article on this overture under general discussion. It was moved to a place where I don't have permission for either (my own post). Dunno.

Our church is in the NWGP and I was able to attend the meeting in which this was passed (I am happy with it).


Puritanboard Commissioner
I'm not sure why the link is not accessible for you in the Presbyterian polity forum.

The post below was part of a review of all 26 PCA Overtures and an assessment from the standpoint of first and foremost whether they will likely further the peace and purity of the church and second, in right procedural (process) order.

As you know, many Overtures, offered in good faith are not adopted, for many reasons- some do not really fit the purpose of Overtures, or produce unintended consequences, are not sufficiently stated, etc.

I tried to give a detailed explanation with regard to Overture 25, and the background and context as well. Hopefully, that will be helpful in addressing some of your original post.

Overture 25, "The Role of Men and Women to Office in the Church," states well some obvious truths- the PCA understands Scripture to teach governance of the particular church by deacons and elders.

Like several other overtures in the past couple years, it is a good faith effort, a call almost born of desperation for basic enforcement of the constitution (Book of Church Order) in the face of obvious violation.

However, though there are very good substantive points, the Overture is not quite sufficient.

The Overture requests urging members to be "supporting the written Constitution," and directs members to specific provisions of the constitution. It's not really the function of an Overture to merely call for what is already there (in the constitution) without some new or specific action.

In the last couple of years, God has caused to come to light the deacon polity practices of a few high-profile churches that violate the constitution, vows to uphold it, and our confessed polity.

These few but high profile churches tend to fit one of three profiles:

a)Churches that were in the RPCES
When that denomination joined with and was received by the PCA, it did not ordain women. It appears the large majority of RPCES had a polity very similar to the PCA, without 'deaconess.' A few of their churches had an office of deaconess and set it apart by prayer. As far as I can tell, there were not vows taken by the congregation, and no election or nomination of them. Nor was it in any way a substitute for the office of Deacon, though the RPCES apparently had a few churches then, as does the PCA today, where the office of Deacon was being neglected.

The few churches that did were to cease as part of their joining and receiving into the PCA- a slight adjustment only, to reflect the polity and constitution of the church they joined. And generally, that merger might be said also to have been an exhortation to all the churches to not neglect the biblical office of Deacon, and to teach and model our confessed polity.

That polity is a strong Diaconate, qualified, examined, nominated, ordained and installed like those same processes for Elder, recognizing these two offices governed the local church.

Session could appoint unordained men and women to assist the Deacons in their mercy duties (and Deacon duties are not exclusively mercy- they include leadership of property stewardship, and leadership in developing the grace of liberality in the congregation). These appointees are not given special titles, whether they are women or men, nor are they an office. "Office" is specifically defined as a category polity in the BCO.

b)New start-up "mission" churches
Some have not gotten a good start relationally with the broader denominational community, nor with polity mirroring that of a particular church. This is one reason the Potomac Presbytery Overture will be very helpful to them (both relationally, and growing into the full polity of a particular church)

c)Churches centered strongly around the personage of one leader that has somewhere picked up individual contrary notions of polity.
One of course can believe certain polity things contrary to their constitution, but they may not defy it by practicing them, nor may they misrepresent what the polity is. The oath seals this before God.

There seems to be two groupings of unconstitutional practices, the second being far more egregious than the first:

1) Churches that created an office not in the constitution and invested it with some of the accouterments of office- such as nomination and election by the congregation. These churches establish a constitutional Diaconate, and place place the invention, at least nominally, under their authority. This has led to confusion.

2) The second grouping of churches somehow overlook the office of Deacon entirely and substitute a female dominated group to do the same or a similar function as the Diaconate. A very few are even mixing in their invention without distinction. They invest their invention with most of the vestiges of office- qualification by I Timothy 3, Titus 1 qualification (except they ignore that these Scriptures require men), examination for an exemplary life and sound doctrine, nomination, election, ordination, installation, vows of submission by the congregation).

The second grouping has even suggested in public discussion, far fetched notions such as:

1)church office could be set aside at will, though the BCO specifically says the opposite (Deacon is a perpetual office)
2)ordination does not require laying on of hands, (BCO says it does)
3)the office of Deacon is merely a synonym for "helper" (Preface to BCO and BCO establish it as an office through which ecclesiastical power is exercised, just like elder)
4)the authority and responsibility of the office of Deacon can fall to an unordained lay group (BCO says if it is impossible to secure Deacons, those duties fall back on the Elders)

These are egregious violations, and were they being practiced, would be subject to church process and church discipline.

So, the result in the first grouping is some confusion, in the second, confusion and a very different polity.

Also, it would appear the doctrine underlying our polity is not being taught. It would almost appear this has resulted, in the second grouping, where the men as elders withdraw to strategically run the church, and only do the authoritative teaching part of corporate worship, leaving a lay group of women to tactically run the church.

This is not our polity at all, nor is it biblical.

Originally, a few appealed to supposed ambiguity about these practices in the constitution by calling for "study" committees.

But "study" committees are not a means for interpreting unclear provisions of the Book of Church Order.

Thankfully, that has now become clear and in that, the peace and purity of the church is furthered. Now, no one is calling for a "study" of our constitution with a pre-determined 4/3 split result.

Others have appealed to their own personal notions of polity, without reference to their confessed polity, doctrine, and their vows.

Until now, only one Overture (this year's Northern California Overture 10) has even attempted to make the case for the radical change to our polity that would be required to accommodate their view. That Overture has seven substantial changes to the constitution and creates a whole new class of polity "unordained" office. It does not sufficiently define that new category or make a Scriptural case for it. There would need to be more changes to the constitution, and its preface, to accommodate this view, but it does show something of what would be needed to change the denomination to that view.

And there would need to be clear and convincing exegesis of Scripture presented to support that view.

It seems the more one looks at the doctrine laid out for our polity in our constitution, the more one realizes how integral it is to our confession and our polity that governance of the local church is through deacons and elders, according to Scripture, qualified to men, and appointed by God with authority.

What is needed is court action to clarify the offending practices. The Philadelphia Presbytery Overture of 2008 stated most of them and could be used as a basis for going forward on this. A "reference" (BCO 41) is one mechanism to do this.

These practices are already clear in the PCA Constitution, but a lot of time and effort has been expended on an assumption that somehow they are not.

Therefore, the peace and purity of the church demands that the courts speak to these practices, now.
From the 2008 Overture

(a) may churches choose not to ordain any male deacons?

(b) may churches choose to commission but not to ordain male deacons?

(c) may women be commissioned as deaconesses without ordaining them as deacons?

(d) may the same constitutional questions, or similar questions, used to ordain deacons be used to commission deacons or deaconesses who are not ordained?

(e) may Presbyteries license and ordain men who submit themselves to the BCO but who also believe that women should serve as ordained deacons?

(f) may churches elect ordained men and commissioned women to serve together in the diaconate?

(g) may churches use the title Deaconess for an elected position of ministry in the church or selected to serve according to BCO 9-7?
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Puritanboard Commissioner
I would like to know where I can get the entire review of all the overtures.

The Presbyterian Polity Forum has a summary and reasoning for most of the 26 Overtures.

It is done looking at them from the denominational process standpoint of Overtures, and whether their substance and form would further the peace and purity of the church.

That means some Overtures that have substantive statements I agree with but they are not right in form. This includes things like a remedy is not sufficiently described, there are unintended consequences, it conflicts with other parts of the constitution, resolution is not properly done through the vehicle of Overture, etc.

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