Dear Grace Family,

A week ago, the PCA celebrated its 50th anniversary as we held our annual general assembly in Memphis. Jonathan Barlow and I were the representatives from Grace this year. Just by way of reminder, the PCA is made up of 3 levels of church courts. The Session of every local congregation makes up the “lowest” court of the denomination. In the middle, 88 Presbyteries make up the “middle” court. Finally, the “highest” court of the PCA is the general assembly, which meets every summer and is made up of any Teaching Elder in good standing along with Ruling Elders from the various congregations. Each church is guaranteed 2 Ruling Elders with the possibility of more based on the size of the congregation. You’ll notice I put quotation marks around the adjectives describing the courts above. The reason for that is the PCA has always been characterized as a grassroots denomination that is much more bottom up in authority rather than top down. This design was in reaction to the old PCUS that used its centralized power to marginalize the conservative remnant of the old Southern Presbyterian Church and empower the growing liberal constituency by overreaching higher courts. As it stands today, the Session is actually the most “powerful” court, followed by the Presbytery in that it is very hard to make lower courts do anything against their will unless it is a blatant violation of the PCA’s Book of Church Order or the Westminster Confession of Faith. While this approach can have its own problems, 50 years has proven that it works better than the alternative.

I left this assembly encouraged, as I have the last 4. We are a national denomination representing a vast degree of cultural, social, geographical, and political diversity. So, it would be a stretch to call us a uniform denomination by a long shot. However, it does seem like we are becoming increasingly unified. In many ways, the PCA is as healthy as it has ever been, minor issues notwithstanding. To use a colloquial expression, we are still “the best ballgame in town.” Continue to pray for our denomination that it will be faithful and that we as a local congregation will play our part along the watchtower to ensure that, by God’s grace, it remains that way. I enjoyed Memphis, but I’m glad to be back in Starkville. See y’all Sunday.

Humbly yours,