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32nd PCA GA

Overtures 11-12 Sent to the 32nd PCA General Assembly

Overtures 11-12 sent to the 32nd PCA General Assembly.

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Editor’s note: Presbyteries have been voting on overtures to be considered by the 32nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America. The General Assembly will meet in the Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Penn., June 14-18, 2004. Overtures 11-12 are printed below along with the Committee(s) to which they have been assigned for consideration and recommendation to the General Assembly.



Overture: #11

From: Southwest Florida Presbytery

To: Mission to North America


Title: “Divide Southwest Florida Presbytery to form Suncoast Florida Presbytery”


Whereas the Southwest Florida Presbytery was established by blending a new presbytery out of the then South Florida Presbytery and Central Florida Presbytery to enable the better management of the increasing number of new churches and missions, and to further advance the establishment of new churches of the Presbyterian Church in America in the west and south areas of Florida; and


Whereas since the establishment of the Southwest Florida Presbytery the number of churches and missions have continued to increase, and, at the same time, it has become apparent that a distinct geographical unit within the bounds of our Presbytery has developed, namely, the most southern area focused on and around Fort Myers and Naples; and


Whereas the above distinct geographical regions have developed out of the growth patterns presently taking place within the Presbytery, the population growth and housing developments and the extensive driving times involved and other travel issues associated with ministering to the churches spread all across the vast area of the Southwest Florida Presbytery; and


Whereas, after research, discussions and planning the MNA Committee of Southwest Florida Presbytery concluded at its June 2, 2003 meeting that for the further advancement of church planting and for the better coordination of the ministries of both new and established churches in these areas of southwest Florida it is essential that a new presbytery be established out of the present bounds of the Southwest Florida Presbytery; and


Whereas, it is also noted from contact with churches in the Presbytery after announcement on the floor of Presbytery that the following was recorded; with the multiplying of the Presbytery a more manageable geographical size will offer more connectional relationships, not only with Elders, but to include the Deacons and other key church leaders.  More Ruling Elders will be involved as they will join together in the planning and planting of churches, thus leading to enhanced strategizing, learning from one another and Presbytery funding more local church plants.


Whereas at the July 12, 2003, Presbytery meeting an Ad Hoc Committee was established to address a request from MNA committee for the boundary of a new Presbytery.  The Ad Hoc Committee met and determined the following:


            Recommendations to the Southwest Florida Presbytery

1.       The Committee recommends that Southwest Florida Presbytery be divided into two new Presbyteries.  Churches located south of the Peace River (where the Peace River crosses I-75 in Charlotte County) will form a new Presbytery.  All churches north of this dividing line will continue as Southwest Florida Presbytery.

2.       The Committee recommends that the first reading of the overture creating a new Presbytery take place at the October Presbytery meeting in order to facilitate the multiplication of the existing Presbytery at the 2004 General Assembly.



Whereas at the Southwest Florida Presbytery meetings on October 14, 2003, and January 17, 2004, an overwhelming vote to approve multiplying into two presbyteries was approved on the floor; and


Whereas this overture was approved by the Southwest Florida Presbytery Administration Committee on Bills and Overtures and presented to Southwest Florida Presbytery members at the April 27, 2004 meeting for approval to submit;


Therefore, this overture is sent to the Committee on Mission to North America-GA to be further processed as new business for the 32nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America, thereby creating the following two Presbyteries effective July 1, 2004:


            Southwest Florida Presbytery will contain

1)       The Tampa Area,” comprising all of the areas contained in the following Florida counties – cities: Pinellas – Lutz – Pinellas Park – Oldsmar – St. Petersburg Hillsborough – Brandon – Riverview – Tampa Polk – LakelandWinter Haven


2)       The Sarasota Area,” comprising all of the areas contained in the following Florida counties: Manatee – Bradenton Sarasota – Sarasota – North Port Hardee – Wauchula Charlotte – north of the Peace River (where the Peace River crosses I-75).


Suncoast Florida Presbytery[1], comprising all of the areas contained in the following Florida counties: Charlotte – south of the Peace River (where the Peace River crosses I-75) – Lee – Cape Coral – Fort Myers – Sanibel – North Fort Myers – Lehigh Acres – Bonita Springs Collier – Naples – Marco Island – Immokalee Hendry – Labelle.


Adopted by Southwest Florida Presbytery at its stated meeting on April 27, 2004.

Attested by: /s/ Dwight L. Dolby, Stated Clerk of Presbytery




Overture: #12

From: Rocky Mountain Presbytery, and James River Presbytery

To: Bills and Overtures


Title: “Support Marriage Amendment to U.S. Constitution”


Whereas the Biblical presentation of marriage declares that it is a creation ordinance intended for all peoples of all times and of all places (Genesis 1-3; Matthew 19:5-6), and


Whereas marriage biblically defined requires heterosexual monogamy (Matt. 19; Eph. 5; Mal. 2; Gen. 1-3); and


Whereas the natural law of marriage has been deeply influential in the cultural, legal and national development of western civilization; and


Whereas the Christian tradition from ancient church to the modern age has defined marriage in this biblical manner; and


Whereas the Westminster Confession of Faith held by the PCA defines marriage in Chapter XXIV. 1-3:


1.  Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5-6; Prov. 2:17).

2.  Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and of the Church with an holy seed; and for preventing of uncleanness (Gen. 2:18; Mal. 2:15; 1 Cor. 7:2,9).

3.  It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent (Heb. 13:4; 1 Tim. 4:3; 1 Cor. 7:36-38; Gen. 24:58).




Whereas the American civil law, positive law and constitutional decisions of our courts have hitherto affirmed this biblical and natural law expression of marriage; and


Whereas there is a definite movement in the U.S. and beyond to overthrow and destroy this biblical definition of marriage as is manifested by recent court decisions; and


Whereas an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that seeks to preserve this definition of marriage, while leaving other relevant aspects of marriage to the will of the people of each state, has already been introduced into the U.S. Congress; and


Whereas the PCA, although reticent to address the civil magistrate (WCF XXXI.4) is willing to do so in extraordinary cases such as it has done in the matters of the sanctity of life and the deleterious impact of homosexuality on families, churches, and both state and culture; and


Whereas the PCA has been requested to address this matter by letters from legislators addressed to the PCA through its Stated Clerk of the General Assembly that were read on the floor of the 31st Assembly to wit:


Marilyn N. Musgrave, member of the Congress of the United States House of Representatives, wrote:


I am writing to you as the original sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment (H.J.Res. 56) in the United States House of Representatives.


I would like to request the opinion of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America on the subject of this important effort to protect he legal status of marriage in America as the union of a man and a woman.


Most legal experts predict that this struggle will begin this summer. And the outcome of this struggle will have a profound legal, social and moral impact on our society for generations to come.


Needless to say, since this struggle involves a debate over the legal institution of marriage, it will be impossible for the Christian community to avoid being affected by this debate.


For your background, I have enclosed a packet of materials summarizing why the Federal Marriage Amendment is needed to protect the legal status of marriage in America from developments in our nation’s courts. In addition, the enclosed materials outline the legal impact that the amendment would have once passed by Congress and ratified by the states.


Again, I would like to request the opinion of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America on the subject of this important effort to protect the legal status of marriage in America as the union of male and female.


Thank you very much for taking the time to bring this issue before the leadership of the Presbyterian Church in America. I look forward to hearing form you and the church on this important matter.


Sincerely, Marilyn N. Musgrave


James M. Talent, member of the United States Senate, wrote:


I am writing as a member of the PCA to request the opinion of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America on the subject of the Federal Marriage Amendment (Hi. Res. 56).


I believe in the traditional definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman and believe our legal institutions should reflect that understanding. The issue has serious implications for our families and our society and I believe the General Assembly should take a position on it.


Thank you for taking the time to bring this issue before the leadership of the Presbyterian Church in America. I look forward to hearing from you and the church on this important matter.


Sincerely, James M. Talent.




Whereas the redefinition of marriage from heterosexual monogamy is a matter of enormous and extraordinary importance for our PCA families, our churches, our denomination and indeed for our entire nation; and


Whereas the majority opinion of the Supreme Court of the State of Massachusetts in an act of usurpation of the legislative function has recently decided in favor of the constitutionality of homosexual marriages, declaring in its opinion:


“The question before us is whether, consistent with the Massachusetts Constitution, the Commonwealth may deny the protections, benefits, and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry. We conclude that it may not. The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens... We are mindful that our decision marks a change in the history of our marriage law... the marriage ban works a deep and scarring hardship on a very real segment of the community for no rational reason. . . Private biases may be outside the reach of the law, but the law cannot, directly or indirectly, give them effect.”




Whereas the dissenting views of the same Court declared:


“What is at stake in this case is not the unequal treatment of individuals or whether individual rights have been impermissibly burdened, but the power of the Legislature to effectuate social change without interference from the courts... .The power to regulate marriage lies with the Legislature, not with the judiciary... today the court has transformed its role as protector of individual rights into the role of creator of rights... . today the court does not fashion a remedy that affords greater protection of a right. Instead, using the rubric of due process it has redefined marriage...


Courts have authority to recognize rights that ware supported by the Constitution and history, but the power to create novel rights is reserved for the people through the democratic and legislative processes...


No State Legislature has enacted laws permitting same-sex marriages; and a large majority of States, as well as the United States Congress, have affirmatively prohibited the recognition of such marriages for any purpose. The law with respect to same-sex marriages must be left to develop through legislative processes...”




Whereas the U.S. Constitution’s doctrine of  “full faith and credit” brings the force of this state court’s decision upon every state in the federal union, and thus directly or indirectly impacting every PCA Church in the United States


Be it now therefore resolved that the PCA’s 32nd General Assembly is overtured to declare its support for the Marriage Amendment, which states:


Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and woman. Neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.


And moreover that the PCA’s 32nd General Assembly is overtured to declare its support for this Amendment to the President of the United States, both Houses of the U.S. Congress, as well as to all U.S. State legislatures, and to encourage its pastors, people, churches and institutions to exercise their appropriate and respective roles as citizens to further the process of the adoption of the Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


Adopted by James River Presbytery at its stated meeting on April 17, 2004.

Attested by: /s/ Eugene H. Friedline, Stated Clerk of Presbytery


Adopted by Rocky Mountain Presbytery at its stated meeting, April 22, 2004.

Attested by: /s/ Lyle E. Lagasse, Stated Clerk of Presbytery.


Adopted by Mississippi Valley Presbytery at its stated meeting, May 4, 2004.

Attested by: /s/ Roger G. Collins, Stated Clerk of Presbytery

[1] Name of Presbytery created by members of that new Presbytery and confirmed to be available for use by the Committee on Mission to North America – GA for purposes of this overture.


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    The concept of substitution may be said to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting Himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices Himself for man and puts Himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone.

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