Saturday, July 22, 2006

New Wineskins Report - Friday While I Was There

The mood at the NWI gathering was one of anticipation. It is possible that this gathering will mark an important milestone in the PCUSA.

The day started with worship (as always, since this is the most important thing that we do). We had another powerful message from Ephesians 4.

Key events of the morning were breakout workshops. The workshop on church property issues showed that local churches have more legal grounds for exiting the denomination with their property than we had believed. Getting a GOOD lawyer that knows property and trust law is VITAL.

A church in Iowa was able to negotiate with its Presbytery to keep their property. How? I’m not sure. If I find any details I will post them on the blog.

The PFR head honcho brought greetings to the gathering. He said that faithful followers of Christ could follow several Presbyterian paths. He made it sound like they were not going to join the NWI in their move forward.

One key moment happened during the introductions of various affinity groups’ observers to the convocation. Parker Williamson (The Lay Committee) basically said that it was time to leave the PCUSA! For years he has been in the “stay/fight/win” camp. No more! NWI will receive a huge boost if the Lay Committee can influence congregations of the Confessing Church Movement to join the cause!

I was unable to change my travel plans. I have to lead worship on Saturday night and it would have been almost impossible to be home in time. Three very trusted friends are going to update me on the delegate voting part of the meeting. Based on my discussions with leadership in NWI and voting delegates, I believe that the recommendations discussed earlier will be approved. That approval sets a course and time-table for action. There will be convocation in the winter of 2007 that will be VERY INTERESTING. NWI could be in a position at that time to receive congregations that desire to leave the PCUSA. Would this be the time of a mass pullout from the denomination? No one knows.

I do not plan on attending the upcoming meetings of the Confessing Church Movement, the Constitutional Church Movement, the Coalition or the Presbyterian Worldwide Fellowship. The Presbyterian Worldwide Fellowship wants to direct all of their mission dollars to faithful, biblical mission projects around the world. I don’t understand how you can separate your church from the denomination in the area of “mission” and not in all other areas! Mission is one place that some good things are being done. NWI will be talking with all of the Renewal groups in the coming months. No need for me to fly all around the county.

I am very disappointed with many of the “tall steeple” pastors and their churches. Why are they not a part of this movement? Why are they not giving leadership to the PCUSA? Do they all agree with what has happened in the denomination over the past five years? Are they afraid that what happened to Hollywood Pres. will happen to them? What about the rest of us? There were a few “tall steeple” pastors present. Praise God for them!

Those who gathered at the NWI convocation are to be applauded. They are willing to stand and say that the PCUSA is not “The Church!” We have been a significant part of the Church. There was a time when the Presbyterian Church sent out missionaries and planted churches. People came to Christ through the ministries of our denomination. All of that began to change in the 1050s and 1960s. We spend countless hours and dollars in writing “papers” and trying to change the constitution. We ignore the FACT that we now live in a post-Christian era. The PCUSA has lifted modern thought above the written Word of God. The PCUSA has turned its back on Reformed Theology. We have no list of essential beliefs (that is straight from the Stated Clerk!). I guess that essentials are up for grabs. The General Assembly found a way around the Presbyteries in trying to ordain GLBT persons. The PCUSA does not look, or sound, like a church of Jesus Christ. The NWI convocation felt like a church. It worshipped like a church. It sounded like the church. It prayed like the church. It focuses on mission like the church. It places a high priority on Reformed Theology like the church. It seeks to value and honor scripture like the church. Could it be a new representation of the church (not the “Church)?

10 Comments:

At 1:48 PM , Anonymous Larry said...

I believe the various conservative organizations could easily co-exist. The problem has been that each of the conservative organizations have had a "winner take all" mentality.

I would have no problem if there were a mix of the following churches constituting the majority of all the churches in our Presbytery:
1. CCM Churches
2. NWI Churches
3. PFR Churches
4. Global Fellowship Churches
5. PLC Churches
6. Constitutional Churches
7. VOW Churches
8. One by One Churches
9. San Diego Essential Tenet Churches
10. PPL Churches

While each of the above churches have a slightly different focus, we could be assured they all have similar reverence for Biblical doctrine.

Such a majority coalition could clean up the mess currently in the PCUSA. Such items as:
1. Withdrawing from the WCC.
2. Withdrawing from the NCC.
3. Withdrawing from WARC.
4. Closing the Washington Office.
5. Closing the UN Office.
6. Closing the 16 Synods.
7. Repealing the property held in trust.
8. Changing the process for selection of GA Commissioners from primarily a rotational system to a system where the presbytery commissioners know where the nominees stand on vital issues.
9. Reapportioning the Presbyteries so those areas that have lost membership also lose presbyteries.
10. Dissolve relationships with seminaries pushing a radical leftist agenda.
11. Repeal PUP #5.
12. Reject the Trinity Report previously received.

Until the conservatives realize they need to first co-exist with other conservatives, the conservatives will never have enough votes to take control of the denomination.

 
At 5:36 PM , Anonymous Jon Thomasson said...

The tall steeple churches seem to be on their own track with their own meeting planned next month. See Bel Air Presbyterian's letter to their congregation at: www.savehollywoodpres.com/Bel-Air%20E-Blast.html

 
At 7:14 AM , Blogger Red_Cleric said...

Larry, I was there as well and am sitting in the office running off a bulletin for worship in 3 hours. The past days have been an amazing thing to have witness.

As to the tall stepple churches you had at least two of them represented there with Kirk and Sunset. Others like, Peachtree are busy with a confrence they are sponsoring. Still others have staff on vacation who couldn't change plans.

It is my guess that the issue of "property" is much more of an issue for them than for a 85 member church in Urban Portland. In that sense they have much more to lose in doing ministry.

I would expect many more joining with us in the near future. BTW if you haven't heard February 8-9 at 1st Pres. Orlando.

Peace
Alan

 
At 11:51 AM , Blogger Dan said...

As another PCUSA pastor just popping in to read this blog, I'm saddened to see Lance and commenters either in full combat mode, excited about the further splintering of the body of Christ, or both. I'm happy for you in your excitement, but also aware that history shows that once churches split, probability of dialogue between the disagreeing parties virtually disappears and the split turns into generations of explaning to our children why we were right and they were wrong. When Luther, Calvin and Knox left the Catholic church, it was because the only alternative was to die, and one cannot write or preach from the grave. Non of us is in that position.

While I understand the upset over recommendation 5, I was impressed by the PUP report overall, including some important key affirmations of the faith and the call to follow their example with similar processes throughout the church, moving away from the win/lose model. As much as we've fought over gay ordination, etc., for the past 30 years, I don't think we've ever done what the Task Force did; I'd like to give it a shot before further action, of either the bail-out or fight-it-out variety.

One man's opinion. In any case, may Christ preserve his church, as he sees fit. God bless.

 
At 12:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I continue to worry about the number of people who use the statement "Let's give it a try" or "This is just an experiment for two years". How do statements like these build any kind of confidence within the church?

If the PUP report was such a breakthrough, where was the support? And if "parts" were such a great affirmation of faith, why couldn't they remove the sections that are not promoting peace?

I provide reports to my employer all the time, some parts they like some they don't. The parts they don't GET REMOVED.

I don't know about you, but I personally don't like people "experimenting" or "trying things out" when it has to do with the bible.

 
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