Monday, October 23, 2006

Looking at the Amendments – The PCUSA must be insane!

I received the booklet “Proposed Amendments to the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)” at our last presbytery meeting. One would hope that our General Assembly meetings would be tackling the most pressing needs of our denomination. This week I am going to look at these most important amendments. After all, other than the PUP report these MUST be the most important issue faced by the PCUSA. These are the things that were covered in committee, debated on the floor of the General Assembly and were eventually pass to be sent out to the presbyteries for our approval. I am not looking at these in any particular order. So here goes…

Amendments B (06-B.1, 06-B.2 and 06-B3)

06-B.1: There has been a desire to shorten Chapter 14 of the Form of Government and to give it “more flexibility in favor of governing bodies and of presbyteries in particular.” One way to shorten Chapter 14 is to move the section on ordination, installation and commissioning questions to the Directory of Worship. Let’s make sure we grasp this revolutionary concept—we want to make it shorter so we just move it to another part of the Book of Order? But wait, we can rationalize the move by saying that it is something that happens within the context of worship. I would hope that most of what we do as a church happens in worship! With all of the challenges facing our denomination our General Assembly is talking about moving one section of the Book of Order to another section of the Book of Order. It is overtures like this that drive me nuts (some would argue that I am nuts all on my own!). This amendment is an absolute waste of time, effort and $$$. My vote: NO.

06-B.2: This amendment will allow the licensure of candidates. If a candidate has completed all of the requirements for ordination except the ORDINATION EXAMS the presbytery can license the candidate to serve an internship, preach, and when necessary, administer the sacraments. Seminaries already require internships! Why do we need a section in the Book of Order to deal with this? The Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM) can approve or disapprove internships. Maybe the Book of Order should spell out how many hours each week the internship should be? How about the color of shoes that the intern must wear? This is insane micromanagement. Another problem that I have with this amendment is that the candidate hasn’t passed the ordination exams and now we are assuming that their theology of the sacraments in correct. What if they have a “Mormon” view of baptism? If they are this far along in seminary and haven’t passed the ordination exams there is something wrong! Special circumstances can always be dealt with by the presbytery. My vote: NO.

06-B.3: Removing synod approval of extraordinary exam process. Synod has no business being involved in this process. This is a waste of time for our presbyteries. It is good enough for me if the CPM and the presbytery have worked with a candidate through an alternate pattern of examination. Some people just do not test well. The CPM and presbytery can deal with this. Keep the synod out of the process! My vote: YES.

Now, in all seriousness, are these the most pressing problems in the PCUSA? Are these amendments dealing with issues that are so pressing that they had to be dealt with at this past GA? I think NOT. Check back tomorrow to see if some of the other amendments are critical for the future of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).


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