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Is there a massive disparity between REs and TEs on the overture votes?
By Brad Isbell
The recorded “no” votes on the controversial overtures 23 and 37 from the last PCAGA are now available in the just-released minutes of the 2021 summer assembly. Recording of votes is optional and generally indicates strong feelings or convictions on a given issue or measure. One conclusion that might be drawn from these numbers is that teaching elders (TEs) in the PCA are far more likely to have strong feelings about these overtures than are ruling elders (REs).
Overture 23 had 1855 votes cast. It passed 1438-417 (71% for, 29% against). 137 “no” voters recorded their votes (33% of those against). Of that 137 only 18 (13%) were ruling elders. Ruling elders made up 25% of all commissioners (616 out of 2115 total elders).
Overture 37 had 1826 votes cast. It passed 1209-617 (66% for, 34% against). 177 “no” voters recorded their votes (29% of those against). Of that 177 only 18 (10%) were ruling elders. Again, ruling elders made up 25% of all commissioners.
These numbers suggest that the “no” votes on the highly-contested, SSA-related overtures were disproportionately those of teaching elders. Of course, the reverse can also be assumed, that a disproportionate number of the “yes” voters were ruling elders.
This is speculative, but if the recorded TE:RE “no” vote proportions are an accurate representation of all “no” voters it might be reasonable to suggest that approximately 55 ruling elders voted against overture 23 out of 616 in attendance. For overture 37 the number of total ruling elder “no" votes might have been around 62 out of 616 in attendance.
Does this suggest a disconnect between pew and pulpit (RE/TE)? Or is it a metro/blue suburbs vs. rural/red suburbs disconnect? Or southeastern vs. the rest of the country (assuming more REs attend from the southeast)? There are likely many theories, no one of which explains all.
(The recorded “no” votes can be found on pages 89-99 of the 2021 GA minutes. https://pcahistory.org/pca/ga/48th_pcaga_2021.pdf)