PCA Assembly Gives Reasons for Women Not Leading in Public Worship

St. Louis, Missouri (July 3, 1998)-In one of its final actions, the 26th Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly gave its rationale for why women should not read Scripture or lead in prayer in public worship. The court referred Southern Florida Presbytery "to I Corinthians 14:34; I Timothy 2:11-15; and Larger Catechism 155-159" in answering why that presbytery should not have allowed these practices in an installation service.

Last year, the Assembly had taken exception to Southern Florida's minutes because of this occurrence. The presbytery, rather than agreeing or disagreeing with that exception, asked the Assembly for rationale as to why the practices were unacceptable.

The Committee on Review of Presbytery Records had brought recommendation that the matter be referred to the Committee on Constitutional Business for answer. But a substitute motion from the floor proposed the answer that was adopted. The final recommendation was approved by about a 2-1 margin.

I Corinthians 14:34 says, "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law." I Timothy 2:11-12 says, "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." The Larger Catechism teaches that the reading of the Word and the preaching of the Word are ministerial acts, and that both are authoritative.

Women have been permitted in a number of PCA congregations to lead in worship; but the practice has not been without controversy. James River Presbytery has taken exception to the minutes of the Session of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Charlottesville, VA, for having women read Scripture in public worship.