Friday, June 23, 2006

My Journey Continues and My Criticism of PCUSA Leadership

Yesterday the water got “muddier,” if there is such a word.

Presbyweb (a must read for every Presbyterian pastor) linked to an article in “The Outlook,” by Edward Koster, a viewpoint by Winfield (Casey) Jones and a letter from Christian Dominic Boyd. Koster argues that the amendments that were added to the PUP report makes it “less likely” that non-celibate GLBT persons will be ordained. Boyd (Ohio Valley’s State Clerk) says that same point with even stronger language. Jones agrees with Koster but wonders if the ACC would agree and whether an unbiased Permanent Judicial Commission would agree. The water just went from “mirky” to “muddy!”

Last night our Session had its monthly meeting. We have been studying the Book of Acts, two chapters at each meeting. We are looking to see what God was doing in the early church and how God could do those very things in and through our ministry. Last night we looked at chapters 15 and 16. Chapter 15 is about disagreements in the early church! The first disagreement was theological in nature and centered on circumcision. Paul and Barnabas took on the believers that were teaching that the Gentile believers had to be circumcised. It took a Council in Jerusalem to decide the issue—but the issue was not put to rest (sound familiar with the PCUSA?). The second disagreement concerned John Mark—this was not a theological disagreement! This caused “such a sharp disagreement that they parted company.” Barnabas took John Mark and headed to Cyprus while Paul and Silas when through Syria and Cilicia. Barnabas is NEVER mentioned in the Book of Acts again. This is one of the first church splits in the New Testament and it wasn’t even over something as serious as the PUP report! They went their separate directions to carry on the ministry of THE CHURCH. They quit fighting by SEPARATING! The water just went from “muddy” to “muddier.”

The lack of leadership is worse than no leadership or poor leadership. The PCUSA is experiencing a lack of leadership. Our Stated Clerk, Clifton Kirkpatrick is our constitutional leader. He is to interpret the constitution to the church—Permanent Judicial Commissions will be the final interpretive voice on a case-by-case basis. Our Stated Clerk MUST speak quickly and clearly on the PUP report as approved by the General Assembly. He MUST try to clear up the water. NOW! We need his interpretation immediately. If he fails to speak clearly he is not a leader and should resign immediately! The PCUSA needs strong leadership—now!

If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that I love to sail. One thing that sailors fear is the loss of the boat’s rudder. The loss of a rudder is SERIOUS. You have to be able to control the direction the boat is heading. A very skilled sailor can do this with balancing the sails in a certain way but it is difficult to do and seriously impacts the directions that the boat can go. Without a rudder the boat is at serious risk.

The PCUSA is a “ship” without a rudder. Yesterday I had a glimmer of hope for staying in the PCUSA. That glimmer will slowly begin to fade if the Stated Clerk doesn’t step up and do his job. If he “can’t stand the heat then he should get out of the kitchen.”


At 9:54 AM , Blogger Backwoods Presbyterian said...

I agree completely. Leadership is what we need more than anything at this crucial juncture in our history.

At 6:39 AM , Blogger Quotidian Grace said...

I think it would be helpful if Kirkpatrick would speak up -- assuming he doesn't use Ecclesiastical Doublespeak.

At 7:05 PM , Anonymous Jon Thomasson said...

Has Kirkpatrick sided with the Gospel on anything over the past several years? It seems that every time he speaks up he sides against the Gospel, against the Scriptures, and against the Book of Order.

At 4:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm new to your blog. I agree with you and believe your reaction is right on the mark. However I pose an observation, having done some sailing myself. It seems to me that this is not a "directionless" move. It seems to me that there is, indeed, a rudder. But perhaps a captain who's sailing us in the wrong direction, and toward the enemy's side. Biblerannasauras.

At 11:37 AM , Blogger Sonshine State said...

As a former member of the complacent majority, I share the blame for our denomination's "Laodician" leadership (neither cold nor hot). But in our mid-size Florida church the sleeping giant is waking up! Our congregation is growing, in every way, and passionate new leaders are being raised up. Some are entering seminary. Others are leaving full-time jobs to devote themselves to kingdom-work as lay leaders. All are educating themselves further in scripture, theology, and denominational polity.

As we hold ourselves more accountable for carrying out The Great Commission, we are obliged to hold accountable those we've given authority to. That said, is there a published voting record detailing our commissioners' positions on the issues addressed at this year's General Assembly?


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