nFOG is approved, Belhar fails: an update on amendment voting

The Belhar Confession, however, written in South Africa with a theme of reconciliation, did not win enough votes and therefore will not be added at this time to the PC(USA)’s Book of Confessions.

Today, Trinity Presbytery in South Carolina voted 56-48 to approve the new Form of Government, casting the 87th vote in favor of the proposal. That means a majority of the denomination’s 173 presbyteries have now voted in favor of substituting that more condensed, missionally focused document in place of the current Form of Government, which was written and adopted in 1983.  The current margin of voting is 87 presbyteries in favor of the new Form of Government and 80 against.  Just four more presbyteries will vote on the measure, and two presbyteries have not scheduled meetings to cast votes on any of the proposed amendments before the deadline.

The Belhar Confession has been approved by a solid majority – 89 presbyteries to 60 so far.  However, this proposal to amend the Book of Confessions requires a two-thirds majority for adoption, so it only takes 58 negative votes to defeat it.  The Belhar Confession, written to guide the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, was recently adopted by the Reformed Church in America and will be considered at the 2012 general synod meeting of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

Amendment 10-A, which received the needed 87th affirmative ratification vote on May 10, continues to maintain its solid margin of approval, with the vote count now standing at 96 positive and 71 negative.  When that amendment takes effect on July 10, it will delete from the PC(USA)’s Book of Order the requirement that candidates for ordination practice “fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness.”

The new amendment affirms in more general terms that “[s]tandards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life” and that “[g]overning bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”

Summary as of June 7, 2011




Needed for approval

Ordination Standards








Belhar Confession





Do you want to track the voting on these amendments?  The official tabulation of votes is managed by the Office of the General Assembly (OGA).  Some affiliated advocacy organizations are also tracking the votes on their Web pages.   

Office of the General Assembly

Presbyterian Coalition – which opposes ratification

Covenant Network – which supports ratification

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