GA Declares That the Constitution is the Only Binding Statement for Denomination

Louisville, Kentucky (June 17, 1999)-Responding to an overture from Westminster Presbytery which expressed concern over a "Statement of Identity" which had been distributed throughout the denomination, the 27th Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) General Assembly affirmed "that the only binding statement identifying this denomination is the Constitution of the Church as defined in the Preface of the Book of Church Order, Section III. All other statements are simply individual statements of opinion and are to carry no authority nor to be binding guides to practice within the churches, committees and courts of the church."
In January, twenty-nine churchmen had circulated a booklet, Statement of Identity for the Presbyterian Church in America. This was the second attempt to generate widespread acceptance of such a statement, the first attempt having come in 1994. Unlike the earlier effort, the promoters this time specifically said that they were not going to approach church courts to adopt the statement.
Despite that disclaimer, concern was voiced throughout the denomination that the statement might indeed come to have quasi-official status. The overture had asked the Assembly to join Westminster Presbytery in "decrying" this attempt "to create extra-constitutional 'statements of identity' or other 'unofficial' standards for the Church."
No one on the floor debated the recommendation which the Bills & Overtures (B&O) Committee, by a vote of 22-3-0, had proposed. The response, which was adopted overwhelmingly, allowed the Assembly to put behind it a potentially explosive issue.