Thursday, March 16, 2006

Lessons from my ordination.

The first call I received following seminary was at a small, rural church in Presbytery de Cristo. The ordination process required that I preach at a Presbytery meeting. There was a special meeting of the Presbytery to hear me preach and ask me questions; then they were to either approve/disapprove of my ordination.

Things were going well until a particular question was asked of me. The question was, “What are the two greatest challenges facing the PCUSA? What a loaded question. I was ready for them to ask me about my call to ministry. I was ready to talk about the Trinity. This question blind-sided me! My answer was… 1) the large annual membership loss in the PCUSA, and, 2) the ordination of practicing, unrepentant gays and lesbians. I wasn’t sure I would ordained after giving that answer. One member of presbytery told me that the gay issue was settled in 1978. I told him that was not the case. I had recently taken a class from Jack Rogers at Fuller Theological Seminary where Professor Rogers told us that there were people in the denomination that would keep pushing for gay ordination until it was accomplished. He said that there were influential people in the denomination who had sons, who were gay, and daughter, who were lesbians, which wanted to be ordained. The parents were going to press for ordination of gays and lesbians. Period.

Well… almost 20 years have passed and Rogers was right. Oh, by the way, I was right on this issue as well.

The PCUSA has continued to have catastrophic membership losses (see my earlier posting on this blog). Sadly, I was also correct on point 2.


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