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Question and Answer

OPC's 75th Anniversary but 78th General Assembly?

Question:

This year is the OPC's 78th General Assemby but it has been organized for 75 years. Were there years when we had multiple GAs in the same year and why?

Answer:

Your math is right, as our GAs do not seem to add up correctly. One would think that the 75th anniversary would occasion the 76th GA. As you suspected, there were two "special" GAs that convened beyond the normal summer sequence of meetings.

The first was in November 1936, when the GA held its second meeting, five months after its formation, for the purpose of approving the constitution of the church. This was no mere ratification of Westminster Confession, but it also involved a determination of the text of the confession. Specifically, would the new church accept the revisions of 1903? Despite some support for that approach, the church determined not to accept the 1903 revisions in the version of the Confession that it adopted.

The second took place in February 1939, when the young church, at the time called the "Presbyterian Church of America," was threatened by the PCUSA with a lawsuit for trademark infringement with its name. The consensus in the church was that it lacked the financial resources to engage in a long and contested legal battle. So this special assembly had the sole agenda of selecting a new name, and it chose "Orthodox Presbyterian Church."

So, two special General Assemblies. And that is why the 78th General Assembly celebrated our 75th anniversary.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

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You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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