5840033636_5497bd8b84_z As pastors, it is always difficult to balance the demands of local church ministry and thoughtful participation in our polity. When there are folks in need around us at our churches and the needs of the assembly are a far way off, it is tough to keep up. I confess that last year a couple of the overtures caught me off guard. This year as a matter of my own preparation and as a possible help to others I have put together a list of things that might be a big deal when the GA convenes in two weeks in Greenville, SC.

Insider Movements: In 2011, at the 39th General Assembly in Virginia Beach, some folks began to raise questions about the “Insider Movement(s)” and their effects on Bible translation. In particular, there was some concern about Wycliffe Bible Translators. The Assembly decided to appoint a study committee to work on the issue and report back. Their report was broken into two pieces, presented over two years. This year is the second part of the report and includes a minority report from one of the committee members. The Ad Interim Study committee has done great work, and Wycliffe has already began to reconsider their position. There is also a minority report to supplement the main report.

Overtures: This year’s slate of overtures is not very long, but there are a couple which will generate a healthy amount of debate. Here are a few that promise to be the most controversial:

  • Overture 7: This motion suggest that the General Assembly appoint a study committee to consider amending the Westminster Standards with regards to the language of the Sabbath.
  • Overture 8: This motion suggest that ministers must self report anytime they change any of their views. One side thinks this will cause ministers to be more frank with their views. The other side is scared this will create “witch-hunts”.
  • Overture 15: This motion is a little confusing for armchair commissioners. It suggests that if a lower court is commanded by higher court to have a trial, the lower court can refer the trial back to the higher court. This will give more power to the SJC, but it will also fix some of the current struggles with the Leithart and Meyers trials. Speaking of which…
  • Overtures 19-23: These overtures all deal with the trials of Peter Leithart (19-22) and Jeffery Meyers (23). Overture 19 could possibly be answered in reference to 20-22 in which 3 presbyteries have overtured the Standing Judicial Committee (SJC) to assume original jurisdiction in the Leithart case. This would essentially create a retrial at the SJC level. These overtures have been forwarded on to the SJC, which means they will not be considered at this GA, but they will certainly be talked about. Overture 23 asks the SJC to consider the Meyers trial. The SJC has previously considered the case abandoned since the man making the original complaint has left for another reformed denomination.
  • Nominating Committee/Standing Judicial Committee: There were some fireworks at the meeting of the nominating committee. The details are somewhat murky, but it seems that a few members of the SJC were replaced on the slate of nominees. Two candidates in particular, Fred Greco and Dominic Aquila, were not included on the nominating committees slate to the general assembly. You can see the ensuing internet dustup here and here. Given the nature of Overtures 19-23 and the implications of a possible retrial of Leithart and Meyers, expect the floor nominations to be more active than normal.

    Review of Presbytery Records: In what has become an annual event, the Review of Presbytery Records Committee has some recommendations regarding presbyteries tolerance of Paedocommunion. This year will be no different. There are 4 minority reports concerning Paedocommunion. There are also reports concerning the trials of Leithart and Meyers coming from RPR.

    The National Partnership: After the goings on at the Nominating Committee meeting in March, the Aquila Report ran a number of articles on a newly formed National Partnership for the PCA. This group of elders was met with some strong responses in the blogosphere from some corners of the PCA. While it may amount to nothing, expect that the composition of the Partnership and its effects on Assembly to be a hot topic among commissioners.

    What other issues do you see coming at this year’s assembly in June?