“How was GA?” I hear that question every year. Some years there is much to talk about and some years not so much to talk about. This year there is much to talk about. For the sake of this article, I’m just going to talk about one thing; racial reconciliation. Going into the Assembly, an amazing 43 of the 63 overtures coming up from the presbyteries addressed the issue of racial reconciliation. Of those 43, three overtures actually made it to the floor of the Assembly for a vote. Two of the overtures (44 & 45) dealt with separate issues relating to racial reconciliation and therefore needed to stand on their own. The Committee on Overtures was able to blend into one the remaining 41 overtures. To me, that is clear evidence that the hand of God was upon the men of that committee as they spent many hours in deliberation. Their finished work that was adopted by the PCA is before you. Please take the time to read it and I will make a few comments at the end.
Overture 43 of the 44th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America:
Therefore be it resolved, that the 44th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of corporate and historical sins, including those committed during the Civil Rights era, and continuing racial sins of ourselves and our fathers such as the segregation of worshipers by race; the exclusion of persons from Church membership on the basis of race; the exclusion of churches, or elders, from membership in the Presbyteries on the basis of race; the teaching that the Bible sanctions racial segregation and discourages inter-racial marriage; the participation in and defense of white supremacist organizations; and the failure to live out the gospel imperative that “love does no wrong to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10); and
Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of past failures to love brothers and sisters from minority cultures in accordance with what the Gospel requires, as well as failures to lovingly confront our brothers and sisters concerning racial sins and personal bigotry, and failing to “learn to do good, seek justice and correct oppression” (Isaiah 1:17); and
Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly praises and recommits itself to the gospel task of racial reconciliation, diligently seeking effective courses of action to further that goal, with humility, sincerity and zeal, for the glory of God and the furtherance of the Gospel; and
Be it finally resolved, that the 44th General Assembly remind the churches and presbyteries of the PCA that BCO 31-2 and 38-1 provide potent and readily available means for dealing with ones who have sinned or continue to sin in these areas.
Now that you have read this historic overture, you might be wondering what do we do with this? Often when the General Assembly, Presbytery, or even a local Session takes action, it leaves us asking, “how do we actually follow through?” This overture is one that will require concerted and intentional action for years and even decades to come. We as a congregation just as we as a denomination will have to wrestle with this and pray that God will move mightily to bring forth the fruit of repentance that will lead to life and blessing. The Lord has been gracious to us, may He continue to bless us as we seek to work out that which is pleasing to Him in the area of racial reconciliation.