Synod Confessional Decisions

The Synod Business Meeting 2018 of ECO was very successful and we are very thankful for all who worked tirelessly to make it so. The following points summarize the major confessional votes. Remember that the following need to be ratified by the presbyteries before they are official:

  • The confessions will not be considered as constitutional. However, the constitution through the Essential Tenets will be amended to specifically name the documents the Synod voted upon.
  • The collection will be called Confessional Standards as opposed to the former Book of Confessions.
  • The following documents were voted in the affirmative (required 2/3 majority):
  1. Apostles’ Creed
  2. Nicene Creed
  3. Heidelberg Catechism
  4. Westminster Confession
  5. Westminster Shorter Catechism
  6. Westminster Larger Catechism
  7. Theological Declaration of Barmen
  • These documents will be stripped of all commentary, footnotes, and left in their original language. In the case of the WCF, we will retain both columns found in the PCUSA Book of Confessions, until 2020 when the Theology Task Force will recommend modernized versions and add ECO specific commentary.
  • The following have been excluded:
  1. Scots Confession
  2. 2nd Helvetic Confession
  3. Confession of 1967
  4. Brief Statement of Faith
  • Texas’ resolution #9 passed, which refers all the other overtures sent from other presbyteries to the Synod Executive Council and the Theology Task Force for consideration to be brought before Synod in 2020. There was a strong desire for new confessional material both in other overtures and from the floor. So, the list given above will be treated as a starting point for further work, rather than a conclusion to the matter.

End of time to advance new proposals

We have now reached the point at which no further overtures can either be advanced or seconded. Here’s how things stand currently:

• We have five overtures that will be advanced to Synod

• Texas’ overture has received concurrence from four other presbyteries, indicating support from five total. All others are advanced by two presbyteries.

    Texas’ overture is mostly procedural, the other overtures are more concerned with theological content

• Overtures from Mission and Mid–America Presbyteries have not received a concurring vote, and so will not be considered at Synod.

• The national TTF has met with the Synod Executive Council and a clearer portrait of the voting procedure has emerged. Look for an information packet from the Executive office and our theological supplement.

• Our forthcoming informational packet will contain answers to many FAQ’s.

• Please take some time to review the overtures and rationales for affirming or dropping specific confessions (especially Barmen, Scots, and Second Helvetic).


September Update

Much has happened in the last month since our last email update. Let’s cut straight to the chase:


  1. Texas Presbytery’s overture has successfully been submitted to Synod by receiving concurrence from the Upper Midwest on 8/26/17.
  2. East Central Presbytery’s overture has successfully been submitted to Synod as well, by receiving concurrence from Northern California/Nevada on 9/9/17.
  3. Mid-America Presbytery has advanced a new overture which you can see at The language of this overture is carried over from a proposal by First and Calvary Church in Springfield, MO, and has been on the website for many months.
  4. Concurrence is expected for a number of other overtures. It is likely we will see around 5 or 6 overtures at Synod. The details of how the vote will take place will be clarified when the Theology Task Force meets with the Synod Executive Council and their parliamentarian in mid-October.


Deadlines are fast approaching:

  • September 27th is the final day for new overtures to be advanced.
  • October 27th is the final day for concurrence. These dates are determined by the rules that Synod adopted early on. They are available from ECO’s head office.
  • If these dates do not work with your current plans, you may need to call a special presbytery meeting.


Remember that Texas Presbytery’s overture asks to adopt a special rule for voting. That means that, per Robert’s Rules, their vote will go first, and if successful, no other overtures can be considered because they imply a different voting format. But even if Texas’ overture is successful, that doesn’t mean all the work of other presbyteries and overtures is made meaningless. All of your work on providing rationale for which documents should be in and out of our new collection of confessions will be vital in helping frame the conversations that happen at Synod. Also, many of the overtures have motions outside of the basic content of the book. Be sure to look at these, as some ask for the modification of polity, modern language versions, and other important considerations.


I know this process has been frustrating for some, and a lot of questions have yet to be answered. As with much in ECO, it seems to be a learning process as we go. Thank you for your patience and flexibility. A good consensus is developing, if not in procedure, at least in much of the content of our future collection of confessions. If you have questions about the parliamentary procedures that will be followed at Synod, please wait until mid–October when the procedure will be discussed at length, and address such questions to the Synod Executive Council. 


Finally, check out the spreadsheet that summarizes the overtures that has just been uploaded:

TTF Hires Rev. Dr. G.P. Wagenfuhr as Resource Coordinator

The national TTF of ECO has voted to hire Rev. Dr. G.P. Wagenfuhr as its part–time Resource Coordinator for a period of one year to facilitate the work of the TTF, especially in serving the denomination as it engages in the "Considering the Confessions" project.

G.P. Wagenfuhr has been an active member of the TTF for two years, acting as the project editor for the "Considering the Confessions" booklet the TTF has produced. In that document he wrote the introduction to the Westminster Standards, the Theological Declaration of Barmen, and the Brief Statement of Faith, as well as producing the chart detailing the support of the Essential Tenets in each Confession.

He is the creator of this website and will provide an active presence to facilitate conversations, and address questions that may arise during this important project.