Voting Age Policy to Remain Unchanged
Louisville, Kentucky (June 17, 1999)-The 27th Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) General Assembly today voted not to begin the process of amending the Constitution to allow churches to set age limits for voting in congregational meetings. The action came despite the recommendation (21-4-0) from the Bills & Overtures (B&O) Committee that the overture from Pacific Northwest Presbytery be answered in the affirmative.
Proponents of the proposed amendments urged that children who might be admitted to the Lord's Table might not be mature enough to determine matters of finance and the selection of church officers. Opponents successfully argued that the measure would create yet a third class of members in the denomination: "non-voting communicant" would be added to "voting communicant" and "non-voting non-communicant."
This is not the first time the Assembly has dealt with the issue. In 1996, the Assembly approved a similar amendment, and sent it down to the presbyteries. It was reported to the 1997 Assembly that an insufficient number of presbyteries had voted in favor of the proposal. However, the Stated Clerk had been counting "abstentions" in the votes cast in the presbyteries as equivalent to "no" votes; upon challenge, that practice was overturned, and the Assembly declared that two-thirds of the presbyteries had voted for the change. At that point, floor debate persuaded the Assembly not to give final blessing to the amendment.
Congregational meetings which are also corporation meetings may be subject to age limits, in accordance with applicable state law. However, in all other congregational meetings, those who are communicants have all the rights and privileges afforded all communicant members.