An Encouraging General Assembly

Dear HLPC Family,

As I mentioned on Sunday, Pastor Paul and I returned after attending the forty-eighth meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America.  It was the largest gathering of commissioners in our church’s history—partly attributed to the fact that GA did not meet last year due to Covid—but mostly (I believe) due to the import of the issues being dealt with.  Pastor Paul will report on the actions of the assembly in an upcoming meeting, but I will say that both of us came back from St. Louis encouraged and hopeful for our denomination’s future.

I can testify that your pastor worked hard during the week serving as a recording clerk for the assembly.  He had to be present and alert for every debate and procedural hiccup and Thursday night’s session did not wrap up until the wee hours of Friday morning!  I was tasked with helping to man the display booth for Mission to North America and to represent the ministry of Bent Tree which seeks to bring pastoral care to pastors and their wives.  Thus, I was able to connect with hundreds of pastors from across the country and to inform them about our ministry.  I was also able to speak about HLPC and of your ministry and hospitality to Julie and me.  All in all, it was a good week for the church.

Coming into every General Assembly, there is always some apprehension.  As the GA tends to deal with issues which effect the whole denomination, parties this year were weighing in in advance through open letters, informational meetings, prayer meetings, etc.—actions which may have hinted that this year was going to be a very controversial assembly.  To the contrary however, most actions and overtures passed with a considerable majority.  Paul and I agree that one noticeable difference from past meetings of General Assembly was the presence of Ruling Elders, which we feel contributed immensely to both the debates and spirit of the assembly.

Finally, I came away with an appreciation of the guardrails our church enjoys:  our system of doctrine as contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Holy Scriptures that anchor it.  The commissioners of the General Assembly relied heavily on these to make wise decisions that would keep us from drifting into false teaching and practice.  In a world where matters of great import are often swayed by cultural consensus, popular opinion, and often simple emotion, we have the plain truth of God’s word and the wisdom of the ages to guide us and to lead us on to right paths.  I was also impressed with how every matter, every report, every debate, and every decision, was first and last bathed in prayer.  In all things, the commissioners wanted to get it right, meaning, to discern God’s will and then to act accordingly, peaceably, and in unity with one another.  It was a privilege to be there and to see the church at work.  May God’s blessing continue with us for years to come.

Clif Wilcox