Proposals and Overtures


Below are overtures from Presbyteries and individual church Sessions. A word of caution to the reader: these overtures are all related to editing the current Book of Confessions. A number of Presbyteries have changed the title of this book, perhaps to separate it from the PCUSA's book of the same name. One of the proposed titles, Confessional Standards (Mission Pres., Rivers of Life, National Theology Task Force), should not be confused with the existing "Confessional Standards" document found attached to our Essential Tenets. Whether we use Book of Confessions (East Central Pres.), Confessional Standards, Foundational Statements of Faith (North West Pres.), or Historic Foundations of Reformed Heritage (Great Lakes Pres.), all of the following overtures refer to proposed changes to the current Book of Confessions.


Updated 10/28/17

+ Texas Presbytery (Successfully Submitted to Synod)

Overture has received concurrence by Upper Midwest Presbytery on 8/26/17

Overture has received concurrence by Florida Presbytery on 9/29/17

Overture has received concurrence by Heritage Presbytery on 10/14/17

Overture has received concurrence by Presbytery of the South on 10/18/17

Texas Presbytery is proposing an alternative mode of voting at Synod, rather than advancing a preferred list of confessions. In essence, Texas is asking ECO to vote only on its current Book of Confessions in 2018, and continue the process of considering the confessions through a more empowered Synod Executive Council (SEC) and National Theological Task Force (TTF). Thus, rather than waiting for presbyteries to advance overtures, proposals could come from the SEC and TTF.

If Texas's Resoultion 9 passes on the floor of Synod, none of the other overtures will be considered because they represent contradictory methods of voting. However, Resoultion 2 asks the SEC and TTF to consider the other overtures for suggested future changes in 2020.

Their overture has 9 Resolutions that can be summarized in four points here:

  1. To accept the core documents about which there has, as yet, been total unanimity: Apostles’, Nicea, Heidelberg, and 3 Westminster documents.
  2. To vote individually to accept or reject the rest of the documents of our present Book of Confessions (Scots, Barmen, Second Helvetic, C67, Brief Statement)
  3. To vote to override hearing of other overtures from other Presbyteries (this is necessary because Texas is proposing a changed voting process and it would present impossibilities if other overtures were heard after Texas)
  4. To vote to empower the Synod Executive Council and the National Theological Task Force to create a new process to work on developing consensus around and future changes to the Confessional Standards.

To see the full language of the resolutions, click here.


+ East Central Presbytery Overture (Successfully Submmitted to Synod)

Overture has received concurrence by Northern California/Nevada on 9/9/17

Summary of motions

A. Include the following in the new Book of Confessions

  • The Nicene Creed
  • The Apostles' Creed
  • The Scots Confession
  • The Heidelberg Catechism
  • The Westminster Confession (single version in contemporary English)
  • Westminster Longer Catechism
  • Westminster Shorter Catechism
  • The Theological Declaration of Barmen

B. Prepare a new Reformed, evangelical confession for ECO, consistent with the Essential Tenets of ECO, and take the necessary steps to include this new confession in the Book of Confessions

C. Include in the Book of Confessions a preface to explain the nature and purpose of the Book of Confessions, rationale for the selection of its various confessions, the relationship of the Essential Tenets to the confessions, and the meaning of subscription to the Esential Tenets and hte confessions within the context of ECO

D. Include before each document a short summary of its historical context, theological value, and significance.

E. Include in the Book of Confessions a "For Further Study" section, listing documents that—while neither binding nor authoritative—the ECO Synod would deem commendable to those desiring a broader understanding of the Christian faith, especially in the Reformed tradition. The following documents are just a few that the Synod may want to list: the Athanasian Creed, the French Confession, the Belgic Confession, the Second Helvetic Confession, the Canons of Dort, A Brief Statement of Belief (PCUS), the Lausanne Covenant, Our World Belongs to God, and the Manhattan Declaration.

For the full PDF click here

For detailed rationale see this PDF


+ Presbytery of the Northwest proposal (Successfully Submitted to Synod)

Overture has received concurrence by Presbytery of the West on 9/23/17

Summary of Propoal

  1. The following documents as ECO's Foundational Statements of Faith
    1. Nicene Creed
    2. Apostles' Creed
    3. Heidelberg Catechism
    4. Westminster Standards
    5. Theological Declaration of Barmen
  2. Title the collection of documents Foundational Statements of Faith
  3. National Theology Task Force use updated language versions of Reformation–era statements.
  4. ECO Polity be amended to require affirming the Foundational Statements of Faith as a qualification for ordained office.
  5. Retain the introductory statement in the current Book of Confessions on Roman Catholics.

Read the full proposal here

Read Presbytery of the West's Rationale here.


+ Great Lakes Presbytery Overture (Successfully Submitted to Synod)

Overture has received concurrence by Rivers of Life Presbytery on 10/6/17

Summary of proposal Great Lakes Presbytery recommends the following

  1. Adopt the National Theological Task Force Recommendation (removal of all 20th Century documents and Second Helvetic)
  2. National TTF Confessional study resources of enduring value be made available on ECO website.
  3. National TTF provide addional consel and service to ECO in the following areas:
    • PROPOSE a frequency to ask the Church to once again consider the Confessions
    • CLARIFY the role of ECO Mission Statement and ECO Core Values
    • DEVELOP ways in which the Essential Tenets might be understood so that the distinctives of the 20th Century Confesssions (removed) might be addressed.
    • ADDRESS the wisdom of ECO adding a Directory for Worship and other non–confessional resources
  4. National TTF engage in producing a Confession.

See the full PDF document here


+ Rivers of Life Presbytery Overture (Successfully Submitted to Synod)

Overture has received concurrence by Great Lakes Presbytery on 10/21/17) Summary of proposal Rivers of Life Presbytery recommends the following motions:

  1. We move to designate seven documents to comprise The Confessional Standards of ECO:
  1. The Apostles' Creed
  2. The Nicene Creed
  3. The Scots Confession
  4. The Heidelberg Catechism
  5. The Westminster Confession
  6. Westminster Longer Catechism
  7. Westminster Shorter Catechism
    1. We move that a new confession be written under the direction of the National Theological Task Force and the Synod Executive Council for potential inclusion in The Confessional Standards of ECO and request this document be prepared for consideration at the next Synod Business Meeting to be known as "Synod Four," likely to be held in January of 2020.

Further Recommendations for the Conversation "Our team respectfully gives the following guidance regarding other proposals in the national conversation regarding the make up of our future Confessional Standards.

  1. Updated modern English versions of confessions to be as accessible as possible.
  2. An interest in considering a Book of Worship to be added to our approved resources as a church.
  3. A recommendation against adding any documents to our Confessional Standards not part of our current collection.
  4. A recommendation against the elevating the confessions to constitutional status.
  5. A recommendation against adding additional sections to the Essential Tenets.
  6. A recommendation against adding qualifying footnotes to certain sections of the Confessions.

See the full PDF with detailed rationales here