Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Stated Clerk’s Top 10 Evaluation (goes on and on)

Today we are looking at the Stated Clerk’s desire to have the constitution revised. For those non-Presbyterians out there, our constitution is composed of the Book of Order and the Book of Confession. The Book of Confessions is composed on 11 confessions. Each confession was written to help define the faith at a particular point in history. Here’s the problem… these confession are not enforceable in any way. Most Presbyterians NEVER read them. So… to revise this section of the constitution would mean that we would begin to enforce adherence to the confessions. That’s never going to happen.

The second part of the constitution is the Book of Order. This is the document that supposedly gives the rules and regulations of the denomination. This document is selectively enforced, at best. Have a church refuse to ordain women elders and the presbytery comes down on the local church like a “ton-of-bricks.” My first presbytery meet following ordination saw a session and pastors removed for refusing to ordain women elders and deacons. On the other hand, have a church and pastor participate in the ordination of a practicing, non-repentant gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person and the enforcement is spotty at best. The Book of Order requires that the committee on ministry visit each session at least every third years. I have been ordained for almost twenty years and NEVER had a representative from COM come to a session meeting. The rules of the denomination are routinely ignored.

So… when the Stated Clerk wants to see the constitution revised I am torn. Do we have too many rules and regulations? You bet we do! Should we reduce the number of rules and regulations? You bet we should! Which ones should we drop? That’s the challenge.

The ONLY way for this to happen is to have a set of essentials that are ESSENTIAL beliefs. They must be non-negotiable. They need to define our belief in God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, sin, redemption and the Bible. In this age of sexual confusion I would add that there would need to be a non-negotiable section of beliefs on sexual conduct. Such essential would eliminate the need for most of the Book of Order. But this will never happen!

Additionally, the constitution could only be revised when those who are vested in the power structure are willing to give up their power. Forbid General Assembly staff persons from having any input in setting committee policy or procedures. Have them run errands for the commissioners and nothing else. Change could then begin to happen. Fire staff persons who go against denominational beliefs and standards. The staff will never give up their positions of power. These things will never happen.

There is NO TRUST in the PCUSA so the constitution will not get revised. We have not proven that we can trust each other in small things so how can we trust each other in big things.

So why would the Stated Clerk want this to be a top ten issue for the upcoming General Assembly meeting? Is it a noble idea? I think so. Is it “do-able” in the current climate of the denomination? I think not.


At 10:07 PM , Blogger TonyC said...

Never say "never," because someone like me is likely to say "but what about. . ." In this case the statement that the staff will never give up their role with committees is countered by the experience of the PJC. In the old days the Permanent Judicial Commission used to make decisions and have the staff draft them up, with lots of staff input. For the last few years, the PJC decision model is to have the staff leave the room completely during decision deliberations, and all drafting is done by the PJC members themselves.


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