April 22: Everyone Wants to Slim Down.

It seems that some were proposing a plan for a smaller General Assembly for the PCUSA as recently as back in the 1930’s. I had not previously paid attention to such efforts in any of the old line Presbyterian denominations, but this was a surprise. Compare this with some of the various plans for a delegated Assembly that have been suggested for the PCA. In what follows, we read of how some thought a smaller general assembly might be accomplished in the PCUSA:

[The Presbyterian 107.13 (22 April 1937): 6.]

A General Assembly of approximately 470 commissioners can be composed so as to equalize the membership as between elders and ministers and to present adequately the communicant strength of the various areas of the Church on the following basis :

(1) One commissioner from each presbytery each year, alternating minister and elder (presbyteries to be listed according to Roll of Assembly, first, third, fifth, etc., to send minister first year, second, fourth, sixth, etc., to send elder), and then alternate.

(2) One additional pair of commissioners from each presbytery having 10,000 to 19,999 communicants; two elder-minister units (i.e., four commissioners) from presbyteries having 20,000 to 29,999 communicants; three, etc., from presbyteries having 30,000 to 39,999 communicants, and so on.

Checking this by the 1936 Minutes, it is found that we have a basic delegation of 279 commissioners (the number of presbyteries);
42 presbyteries in the 10,000 class, i.e., 84 additional commissioners;
9 presbyteries in the 20,000 class, i.e., 36 additional commissioners;
6 presbyteries in the 30,000 class, i.e., 36 additional commissioners;
no presbyteries in the 40,000 class;
2 presbyteries in the 50,000 class, i.e., 20 additional commissioners;
and one in the 60,000 class, i.e., 12 additional commissioners.
The additional commissioners total 188, which, with the basic group, make up 467 commissioners.

This is under 500 by 33 commissioners, but annual growth will soon begin to increase the delegations. This scheme is easy to figure, because the tabulation reveals the status of a presbytery by simply glancing at the digit in the 10,000 column. The elder-minister balance is maintained without elaborate explanation or computation.

Words to Live By:
As most of our readers probably now know, the PCA’s 48th General Assembly has been postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It will instead meet in St. Louis in June of 2021. Let’s make opportunity of this turn of events and covenant to pray regularly for the PCA and for all the planning and preparation that will be required for the Assembly as it prepares to meet in St. Louis. May we be found faithful in our prayers and may we see the Lord’s leading and provision for the Church.


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