Friday, July 07, 2006

Church Options - Day 6 and It Hits the Fan!

Before looking at the next option a church can take in response to the HORRIBLE decisions by the General Assembly I must take a few moments to comment on the latest news on the Presbyterian front. Thank you Presbyweb for your excellent coverage of happenings in the PCUSA and the Church around the world! Yesterday’s edition had two excellent and thought provoking links. The Presbyterian Lay Committee’s directors issued an exceedingly interesting statement on the 217th General Assembly of the PCUSA. They are critical of the Assembly’s handling of the Trinity document and the report of the Peach, Unity and Purity Task Force. The directors said, “Accordingly, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has broken covenant and invited schism.” They went on to say, “Reluctantly, and with deep sorrow, we conclude that current renewal efforts within the Presbyterian Church (USA) are not capable of reversing the denomination's plunge into apostasy. Continuing the remedial course that our renewal organizations have pursued for more than four decades will not save this ecclesiastical body; for its sin is so systemic as to render it impervious to change from within. This institution begs not for improvement, but for Reformation and transformation… We call upon Presbyterians at every level of the church to challenge its seismic breaches of covenant. We urge sessions to seek counsel and take all necessary steps to ensure that all gifts and the real property entrusted to them are used for ministry in Christ's name. Further, we urge them seriously to explore fellowship with other like-minded Presbyterians who share their commitment to the historic Reformed Christian faith.” WOW!! The “stuff” has hit the fan! It sounds like they are seriously advocating that local churches leave the denomination and take their property with them. The second item of interest on Presbyweb was a letter by the senior pastor at Highland Park Presbyterian Church. The Reverend Scates says the the Presbyterian Global Fellowship will be the "new way of being 'PCUSA' in the years ahead." These are powerful words! I wish that I had the time and financial means to attend the upcoming meetings of the Coalition, the Confessing Churches and the Presbyterian Global Fellowship meetings! (I will be attending the New Wineskins meeting.) The PCUSA may be facing a new Reformation!

Today’s option is one where the local church stays within the PCUSA and the pastor leaves the denomination. This will be the most painful option! The connection between a pastor and a congregation is complex. The pastor is leader, shepherd, counselor, confidant, teacher and friend. The pastor pours him/herself into all aspects of the local church and the people who call it “home.” This option will cause a split in the local church! Some church members/attenders will choose to stay with the PCUSA and some will choose to leave with the pastor. It is very possible that the pastor will start a “new” church just down the road from the church that decided to stay in the PCUSA. Feelings will be hurt. Close friends will be torn apart.

With the possibilities listed above, why would a pastor choose this course of action? The reason… the calling of God! God calls a pastor to a particular congregation. The PCUSA ceases to be a part of the world-wide Christian Church when it moves away from biblical standards of belief and ministry. So… in a very real way, the pastor is not “leaving” the church, the church has left the pastor! The pastor may still be called to minister to the “faithful remnant.”

This option is a very real possibility for me. Would Evergreen vote to leave the PCUSA? I’m not sure if it would! The possibility would then exist that I would start a “new” church in the same geographic part of Pierce County. Some (and maybe many) of Evergreen would leave with me to form that new church. Those who stay in the PCUSA could (and probably would) have very hurt feelings. To be honest, leaving the PCUSA would not break my heart. I am tired of living in a denomination that is at war with itself. However, I do not cherish the possibility of a “split” at Evergreen.


At 3:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess you don't live in a manse?

What about the pastors in a manse, with their spouse, kids and pets?

Where do we go?

At 7:41 PM , Anonymous Presbyterian Gal said...

The three big bad votes:
1. Divestiture: Well, on the plus side it DOES help fulfill prophecy as in Israel standing alone, from Revelations.
2. Mother, Child and Holy Mackerel: It seems to me a tragedy that so many people have such insecurity about the nature of their creation as to challenge the grammatically gender neutral "He" as refers to God the Father. As far as the Son and Holy Spirit, that's how it happened folks. Deal with it. Cause if you don't you enter into.....
3. PUP nonsense. One less commandment to follow. Allowing more time for soccer practices. And a first class ticket to apostasy. I've been led to Old Testament stories that deal with temples that fell into complete apostasy and how God dealt with them...... Hmmmm.....Based on history and knowing that although we may not, God does keep His word, perhaps we ought to get out of the way for what is likely to be coming to the PCUSA.

At 7:46 AM , Anonymous Larry said...

A related option to what you posed is for the church to leave the PCUSA and the pastor stays with the PCUSA.

It is my observation that PCUSA pastors have more loyalty to the denomination than do the church members.


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