The Theology Committee report to the 42nd General Assembly of its work during 2021-2022, plus recommendations for consideration by the Assembly.
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TE, Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes
SUMMARY OF WORK
1. Reviewed the charter for the Theology Committee from Rules for Assembly 10-1G.
2. Reviewed Recommendation GA41-31.
3. Reviewed the March 11, 2020, Provisional Opinion of the Stated Clerk.
4. Reviewed Recommendation GA40-30 from the Permanent Judicial Commission, which sustained the March 11, 2020, Provisional Opinion of the Stated Clerk.
5. Completed GA41-31 Response for the 42nd General Assembly.
42-18 To include the full text of the GA41-31 response of the Theology Committee in the official Minutes of the 42nd General Assembly.
42-19 To distribute the GA41-31 response of the Theology Committee to every Presbytery and Session of the Church.
WORK OF THE COMMITTEE
During the 41st General Assembly, the following recommendation originated from the floor, was approved through the 41st GA Standing Committee on Theology, and was subsequently ratified by the floor in the omnibus motion:
Recommendation 41-31. That the 41st General Assembly refer to the Permanent Theology Committee for study and exploration the matter of virtual communion in the EPC with regard to our constitution and practice and to report to the 42nd General Assembly with any possible recommendations.
The committee took direction from Acts of Assembly 86-02, which says, “The Assembly instructs the permanent Committee on Theology to make known to all Ministers and Clerks of Session the date and place of its meetings and the agenda of the items to be deliberated, and to welcome input from the constituency regarding said matters” (Minutes, 6-28). There were several responses from both teaching and ruling elders from around the country, which the committee was grateful to receive.
The committee discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted our churches and also rejoiced in the providence of God that He should give us cause to earnestly reflect on the nature and administration of this sacrament even in the midst of such unprecedented circumstances. We reviewed the constitutional history that brought us to this moment including the March 11, 2020, Provisional Opinion of the Stated Clerk, the report of the PJC to the 40th General Assembly (including GA40-30, which sustained the Provisional Opinion of the Stated Clerk and was subsequently approved by the same assembly), and finally our business as expressed in recommendation 41-31 from the 41st General Assembly. We studied Scripture and the history, theology, and practice of the Reformed tradition as it related to this issue. We reviewed the existing directions of the Book of Worship. After much discussion, a consensus was reached as to what the appropriate response should be, which we then set out to complete. Because this matter touches on the faithful administration of the sacraments, a mark of the true church historically, and one of our own expressed Essentials (#5) in the EPC, we believe our response should be spread upon the Minutes of this Assembly and distributed to all the courts of the church, if that is the will of this Assembly.
To include the full text of the GA41-31 response of the Theology Committee in the official minutes of the 42nd General Assembly.
To distribute the GA41-31 Response of the Theology Committee to every Presbytery and Session of the Church.
Zach Hopkins (Chairman)
TE, Presbytery of the Rivers and Lakes
RE, Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic
TE, Presbytery of the East
RE, Presbytery of the Central South
RE, Presbytery of the Great Plains
RE, Presbytery of the Alleghenies
October 26-27, 2021: Office of the General Assembly (Orlando, Florida)
April 6, 2022: Video Conference
April 27, 2022: Email Exchange
Zach Hopkins, Chairman