The PCA And The Directory For Public Worship

For 47 years, a “temporary statement” has introduced the Presbyterian Church in America’s Directory for the Worship of God. This note, affixed by the Third General Assembly, noted the unfinished work of revising the Directory of Public Worship stating: “The Directory for Worship is an approved guide and should be taken seriously as the mind of the Church agreeable to the Standards. However, it does not have the force of law and is not to be considered obligatory in all its parts.”[1]

Today, fifty years after her founding, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) has the peculiar distinction of being the only major Presbyterian denomination without a constitutionally binding Directory for Worship. So while the Directory is declared to be part of the Constitution (Preface III) and sessions are instructed in BCO 12-5e to order worship by this document, it nevertheless is said to not “have the force of law and is not to be considered obligatory in all its parts.” How did this “temporary statement” last for 47 years, and has there been any effort to revisit this “temporary” status?
The History of the Westminster Assembly & Standards
What is a directory of public worship, and why does it matter? The original Westminster Assembly was charged to produce ecclesial documents and guidelines to further reform the Church of England. The most famous of those documents was the revision of the 39 Articles, that eventually became a full-blown rewritten Confession of Faith in use in many Reformed and Presbyterian denominations today, including the Korean American Presbyterian Church, the Korean Presbyterian Church in America (Kosin), the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA), the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP), and the PCA.[2] The Assembly also produced the Larger and Shorter Catechismsand many other documents related to church polity, including the original Directory for Public Worship.[3]

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Jared Nelson | “The Unfinished Business of the PCA Founding: The Directory for Public Worship” | January 10th, 2024


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