Last summer at General Assembly, the overture to have non-ordained persons (i.e., women) on the permanent committees and boards of the agencies of the PCA was overruled. This past summer, the same overture was issued, but it encountered the same response: only ordained persons (men) are allowed on the permanent committees and boards of the agencies of the PCA.
The reasoning behind this, simplified, is that to have non-ordained persons would give them ruling authority, which is considered in the PCA tradition to be unbiblical, according to The Aquila Report.
Last summer, there was quite an uproar among the faculty, staff, and students of Covenant College at the decision, and numerous churches—particularly those that were members of the presbyteries putting forth the overture—were also disheartened.
After the overture was met with the same response this summer, however, there didn’t seem to be as vocal of a reaction from the Covenant community. In one sense, it feels like this decision happened in another world far away, made by people we don’t know, and therefore it doesn’t affect us. After all, we’ve gotten along so far without women on these permanent committees and boards. Why, then, should these decisions matter to us, the students of Covenant College?
In light of this question, I think it’s important to remember that our experience at Covenant is not the same as for the PCA as a whole. I think we forget that the things we experience here at Covenant to make the voices of the marginalized, the forgotten, and the ignored heard is not prioritized everywhere, or even in most places.
Here on the mountain, we love and are constantly being pushed and taught to love more. We see the hurt, brokenness, and ugliness in ourselves and the people around us, and at Covenant, we’re encouraged to not only share and lament those stories, but to also push each other to see God’s faithfulness and hand in everything. The education we are receiving is giving us the tools to be those who bring healing and reconciliation. These tools allow us to push each other towards holiness, towards unity, in ways that are not common everywhere else—even within the PCA.
And why are they not more common? Because of fear. Fear of doing the wrong thing and looking stupid in front of important people. Fear of losing control. Fear of change.
That said, I think we must remember that the people (men) making these decisions do love Jesus, and to them, this is what loving Him looks like. We should also remember that the decision was not unanimous.
In making this decision, however, these men are missing out—we are missing out—on enriching our understanding of the love of Jesus by listening to other voices that He created, which in this instance happens to be female voices.
So, Covenant College, I challenge you to keep caring. I challenge you to keep following Jesus, wherever that may take you, and to keep listening to the voices that are silenced, even if you disagree with them.
I challenge you to keep praying for our leadership, at Covenant and in the PCA as a whole. Pray for humility, for freedom from fear, and for a softness and tenderness towards the real love of Jesus, not only their experience of it. Pray that we, the body of Christ, would continue to push each other towards holiness, even when it’s hard. Because ultimately, we will remain divided while we are afraid of change and each other, and we are called to unity, to something much bigger than we are, and that is why and how we will move forward.