The Covenant Network rejoices in the affirmation of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of an ordination requirement that is faithful to Reformed theology and Presbyterian polity, calls candidates for ordained office to the highest of standards – joyful submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ – and mandates rigorous examinations, without unwarranted focus on sexuality to the exclusion of other aspects of life and character.

What happens if the presbyteries approve both Amendment 10-A, the new text proposed to replace the current G-6.0106b, and an entirely new Form of Government?

The question is being raised because the revised Form of Government sent to the presbyteries by the 219th General Assembly (2010) retains the current wording of G-6.0106b, the highly contentious paragraph about ordination standards.

Concerned that the project of revising the Form of Government not be derailed by particularly controversial issues, the 217th General Assembly (2006) mandated that the Task Force drafting the revised “FOG” not consider any changes to G-6.0106b, or to the property trust clause currently found at G-8.0201.   The FOG revision and the amendment to G-6.0106b were each considered and approved by the 219th GA on its own merits, and each will take effect if ratified by at least 87 of the 173 presbyteries.

According to the Office of the General Assembly, “If the new Form of Government is approved by a majority of the presbyteries and Amendment 10-A is also approved by a majority of the presbyteries, the new language of G-6.0106b will become the language in the new Form of Government at G-2.0104b.”

G-2.0104b in the revised FOG is slightly different from the current G-6.0106b, consistent with the terminology being used for ordained offices in the revision:

Those who are called to ordered ministry in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, ruling elders, or teaching elders.

Amendment 10-A would replace the above paragraph, or G-6.0106b in the current FOG, with this:

Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240; G-14.0450) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.

The Covenant Network Board supports both the amendment to G-6.0106b, and the Form of Government revision.

More information about the revised FOG, including the entire text and resources for study, has been posted here.