Reflections on GA, part 1

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(David) With the conclusion of the 2010 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America now nearly a week behind us it’s time for reflection and assessment.

What should be obvious to any observer of last week’s Assembly in Nashville is that despite the outcome of particular votes, the very fact that the issues which comprised the bulk of this year’s General Assembly work came before it at all is evidence that the PCA is adrift, rudderless before winds blowing from Manhattan, St. Louis and Atlanta.

It may be years before the missional-artsy-culturists fully consolidate power within the PCA, but the process is advancing on the denominational level and anyone who thinks this year’s General Assembly even slightly bucked that trend is naïve.

I’ve heard talk about the closeness of many of the contested votes, the inadvisability of proceeding with action plans in the face of large negative voting blocs, the hopefulness of Friday’s votes after what someone called the "bloodbath" of the votes on the Strategic Plan Thursday afternoon and evening…

Frankly, Baylyblog friends, not only did a deeply troubling institutional agenda come before this year’s General Assembly, it carried the day. Except for an excruciatingly close vote on the training and certification of women for ministry roles, the Strategic Plan was adopted en masse—and the Strategic Plan consists of actionable items. Votes on Friday authorizing statements about homosexuality and abortion are toothless institutionally. Statements are statements; action items are action items. 

Finally, probably the weakest of the various negative overtures on women deaconesses was the one ultimately referred to the General Assembly by the Bills and Overtures Commission, and though it passed without significant opposition, the very fact that we had to clarify what the BCO and Presbyterian tradition uniformly and unequivocally assert about women officers is evidence that this will likely be one of the next dominos to fall. Remember as well that the clarifying amendment to the BCO on deaconesses must pass two-thirds of the presbyteries to be enacted while the various elements of the Strategic Plan (except the AC funding proposals) face no such hurdle.