Update from Gary (blog)
The General Assembly considered a proposal to change one of the vows taken by ministers-elect and elders-elect at their ordination into their respective offices within the Presbyterian Church of Australia.
The question currently asks “Do you believe the Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, to be the only rule of faith and practice?”
The proposal was to omit the words ‘contained in the Scriptures’ and alter the question so that it would take the form “Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only rule of faith and practice”.
In doing so the intention is to embrace the intention of our church standards with regard to the nature of the Bible.
Changing understandings of the word ‘contained’ and a lack of understanding about the situation in which our church standards were framed can lead to confusion.
Our standards demonstrate that Holy Scripture is contained in the Old and New Testaments alone, not in any other writings, and the Holy Scripture contains all that is needed for what we are to believe and how we are to live out that belief.
The old question did not mean that God’s Word is present in the Bible along with other material that is not God’s Word, though it may mistakenly be taken to mean that, and might be used to defend defective interpretative practices as being valid in the life of our church.
The statement that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the Word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience is congruent with the Larger Catechism of the Westminster Confession, and so comfortably fits within our historical understanding of the Scriptures while better suiting the modes of expression and the theological issues in the age in which we live.
The proposal was debated, with consideration of what the change means and whether there were any unintended consequences.
The change has been approved and sent to State Assemblies and Presbyteries for their consideration before being considered for final implementation at the next GAA.
In a climate where the Bible is being eroded by sections of it being questioned or downgraded in the church, or where it is placed alongside other supposed sources of revelation from God; the Presbyterian
Church of Australia has sought to affirm the unique and sufficient nature of the whole Bible, and its testimony to the Lord Jesus as the Word of God incarnate, the author and perfecter of our faith.
(Update from Gary Ware - Check out his Blog)
Tuesday night featured the reports of Australian Presbyterian World Mission, Relations With Other Churches, and PresAID.
All three of these committees work toward developing relationships that lead to Gospel partnerships.
A feature of the APWM report was witnessing the signing of a partnership agreement with the Presbyterian work of Japan by John Wilson and Kiyoshi Endo.
Kiyoshi Endo (Japan), Thang Bwee (Myanmar), Roy Yosef (Vanuatu), and Hiralel Solanki (India) were all personally acknowledged with a presentation made by John Wilson.
During the Relations With Other Churches report we heard from Flip Buys who told us about the World Reformed Fellowship and the fostering of relationships between like-minded denominations and churches of differing cultures from around the world. Our denomination has fostered and supported the growth of the WRF, and we were encouraged to maintain this relationship. John Nicholls (Moderator
Free Church of Scotland) and David Bain told us about the work of the Free Church and Grace Presbyterian Church of New Zealand respectively. Flip Buys, John Nicholls, and David Bain were also personally acknowledged by John on behalf of the Assembly.
Finally, Bob Thomas spoke about the work of PresAID, which he pioneered and is now handing off the convenership. PresAID remits 100% of donations to the causes for which they are solicited, the denomination underwriting administration expenses. In its ten years of operations PresAID has received and distributed over one million dollars.
All in all, we started the day at 9.30am (after over half the Assembly had already attended the prayer meeting from 8.45am-9.15am) and finished at 9.20pm with two one hour breaks (plus morning tea).
A long day, but a great finish.
Gary Ware's GAA Update (check out his blog here)
Opening Night Forty Ninth Session Of The General Assembly Of The Presbyterian Church Of Australia #GAA_16
It’s late, I’ve been up since 5.30am.
David Cook and John Wilson’s sermons/addresses will hopefully be online sometime soon, so I won’t go into them in depth. (from Mike... I am working on having the sermons online in the next day or so)
David encouraged us in perseverance in Gospel work; and John stressed that a heritage of faith is good, but faith in the Gospel of the cross of Jesus has to be personally owned by each generation and then graciously passed on.
Singing was great.
A focus was the appreciative individual welcome extended to representatives of other denominations by John.
The representative responses to those welcomes by John Nicholls of the Free Church and Glenn Davies of the Anglican Church in Sydney demonstrated our affinity with like-minded churches near and afar.
I spent the evening looking at the webcam on the back wall of the church.
Write and ask the Assembly for a live stream next time.
Don’t tell them I suggested it.
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia commences tonight at 7.00pm at the Chinese Presbyterian Church Surry Hills, Sydney.
Meeting every three years, the GAA comprises of representative pastors and elders drawn from the State Assemblies and Presbyteries. Matters under the authority of the GAA include Theological Education, World Mission, Defence Force Chaplaincy, Inland Mission, Relations With Other Churches, Church And Nation, along with more standing and ad hoc committees.
Tonight David Cook will conclude his three-year term as Moderator-General and John Wilson, Clerk of the Presbyterian Church of Victoria will be installed as Moderator-General of the Forty Ninth Session of the General Assembly, a role that continues for the three years until the next regular GAA.
Any business tonight is of a routine matter, and will commence properly tomorrow, after the Assembly Communion Service in the morning.
Listen to Outgoing Moderaor's Message
Message from Incoming Moderator coming soon
The Presbyterian Church of Australia will be holding the 2016 General Assembly in Sydney on 12 - 15 September 2016.
"The General Assembly of Australia generally meets every three years, and is made up of Commissioners from every Presbytery and State Assembly. The Moderator of the General Assembly is called the Moderator General . As with a State Assembly, it receives reports from its committees which relate to particular areas of ministry. Some of these are the Presbyterial Inland Mission, Australian Presbyterian World Mission, the Reception of Ministers from outside the Presbyterian Church, and the College Committee [which supervises training for the ministry.] It is usual for all General Assembly of Australia committees to have representatives from every State.
The General Assembly hears any appeals or petitions within its area of jurisdiction which have so far not been satisfactorily resolved at a Presbytery or State Assembly."