My Visit to the PCA General Assembly

Last week I spent three days at the Presbyterian Church in America’s yearly General Assembly, this year in Greensboro, NC. The major work at this GA was related to questions of women’s ordination as deacons. But, since I’m not a member of the PCA (I’m a licensed minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church – Hanover) and since I did not listen in on the sessions, I will not comment on the questions. Rather, this post will just note some of my experiences at the GA.
I spent most of the three days helping out in two booths. First, I spent some time helping out at the booth of my father-in-laws church website business, Five More Talents. Then, when I found that my publisher, Wipf & Stock, had a booth at the GA, I helped them run their table, and sold some copies of my The Presbyterian Philosopher.
Overall, it seemed that the layout was quite poor. The booths were in two sections (one on the main floor, and the other in the upstairs hallway) of the Koury Convention Center. The GA sessions and conference, however, were in rooms where one hardly needed to pass by any of the booths. Thus it was a lonely time for the booth vendors, and a fairly poor investment at $800 a booth for a scant few customers passing by.
I came to the GA thinking I would hardly know anyone there. But I was surprised to meet 20-25 people I knew. Not only was my in-laws family there (7 of them total), but I met up with pastors I knew from Winston-Salem (John Lindsay) and Greensboro (Nathan Kline, who I taught a Titus Bible study under for a spring project during seminary), laypersons from my old Greensboro Bible study, and a colleague from Sangre de Cristo Seminary, among others.
I was glad also at GA to run into some PCA “celebrities.” These are people, perhaps not well-known on a national scale, but prominent in the small conservative Presbyterian world for what its worth. These people are more “celebrities” to me (having read their books) than hollywood actors (whose movies I rarely watch).
So I met up with the soon-to-be-relocating-to-NC pastor Kevin DeYoung and gave him a copy of my book. I was glad to hear from him that he already knew of its existence from a book review.
At lunch on the third day Harry Reeder (Senior Pastor of the large Briarwood Presbyterian Church) sat down at the table I was sitting at. I had listened to (and do recommend) his series on “Christian Manhood Illustrated” last year. I gave Reeder a copy of my book as well, which he seemed glad to receive. He had taken a course from Dr. Clark at Covenant College in 1974.
After the lunch I tracked down Sean Michael Lucas, professor at RTS and author of a book I read last year – For a Continuing Church, The Historical Origins of the PCA. I gave him also a copy of my book and had a pleasant conversation with him.
And finally, on the last afternoon I met up with Derek Halvorsen, President of Covenant College, and had a great conversation with him about his (as he says) “most famous faculty alumni” Gordon H. Clark. I gave Halvorsen a copy of my book as well.
I had some great conversations at the GA with Aaron Gould (who I think is a “Clarkian”), a brilliant young man named Ben Harris, Wayne Sparkman of the PCA archives, and Martin Cameron, librarian at Highland Theological College.
All the good conversation at the GA got me thinking on a number of subjects. Primary among them – should I pursue a PhD in Scotland? Well, one (or three) things at a time! I’m working at a church now, working on ordination for September, and starting a ministry on the Appalachian Trail.