UPDATE: Assembly-Wide Panel Discussion Canceled

…Most of the attention was centered on the selection of David French as a panelist. French is an Army veteran, former attorney, and an opinion columnist for The New York Times. He’s also an evangelical Christian and until recently was a member of a PCA congregation in the Nashville area.

In response to the concerns, PCA Stated Clerk Bryan Chapell invited the permanent committee of the AC to meet today and decide whether the panel should proceed as planned. The permanent committee met via video conference and agreed to the following: “That the General Assembly Plenary Seminar, ‘Supporting Your Pastor and Church Leaders in a Polarized Political Year’ not be offered.”

The committee provided the following rationale for their decision:

The concerns that have been raised about the seminar and its topic have been so significant that it seems wisest for the peace and unity of the church not to proceed in this way. Instead, the seminar time will be allocated to a prayer convocation that humbly petitions our God for the good of his church in a polarized political year, utilizing the means of grace provided by our Lord for his people.

Following the committee’s decision, Bryan Chapell issued the following statement:

I apologize to the members and staff of the Administrative Committee for the controversy over the upcoming General Assembly seminar. Concerns about a panel participant have caused some brothers to be concerned for the witness of our church and other brothers to be concerned for how our church processes differing views while protecting reputations. I am thankful for both sets of brothers, and regret that my composition of panelists has put them at odds with each other.

The purpose of the seminar was to help our churches deal with political tensions and, instead, controversy has ensued. This is contrary to the intended purposes of the seminar and the purposes that AC members and staff have so conscientiously pursued with me over the last four years. We have worked together to advance the peace and unity of the church, trying to build trust and godly expression among those of differing viewpoints.

Had I known some of the ways that the panelist has expressed himself or been understood in past writings, I would have made a different choice for the purposes of this seminar. Without seeking to debate or invalidate the merits of any brothers’ concerns, I acknowledge that I did not become aware of significant background issues before making this decision. This was my mistake, and I apologize to the PCA that I love.

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