Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thinking Unpopular Thoughts – Per Capita – Day 3

The past two days I have looked at some reasons why churches should withhold General Assembly per capita and give that money to Presbyterian missions. So far we have looked at the following reasons:
  • per capita is optional;
  • the Trinity report;
  • the Peace, Unity and Purity (PUP) report;
  • the actions (or lack there of) of the GA Stated Clerk concerning the PUP report;
  • Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11 by David Ray Griffin.

Today I will look at some additional reason to withhold GA per capita.

The inconsistent way the GA Stated Clerk deals with issues: Over the past several years there have been pastors, churches and presbyteries that have openly defied the constitutional mandates of the Book of Order regarding ordination. The Stated Clerk has done almost nothing to rein those folks in. Now, presbyteries (like mine) have passed resolutions concerning ordination saying that the Book of Order is to be followed. What does the Stated Clerk do? He says that these presbyteries are in error. The State Clerk has threatened to come down hard on any presbytery that lets a church leave the denomination with its property. Do we see the Stated Clerk threatening the presbyteries that allow churches to ordain persons who openly defy G-6.0106b? No way! The theological bias of the Stated Clerk shows through in how he deals with issues. The Stated Clerk has damaged the PCUSA and local congregations in how he deals with issues.

The Horizons Bible Study: The PCUSA web page says, “Horizons—the Magazine for Presbyterian Women.” The Horizons Bible study on Genesis is heretical! I wrote extensively on the Horizons Genesis study in September. After five posts I had only covered the first 20 pages of the study. I was shocked by the theological garbage in that study. Some will argue that Horizons is separate from the PCUSA. That may be true, in a legal sense. Horizons bills itself as the “Magazine for Presbyterian Women.” The PCUSA web sit has a page specifically for them. They are a major player in the PCUSA. I have heard that the Horizons Bible studies have contained heresy for years. If that is true, why hasn’t the General Assembly or General Assembly Council said or done something to stop it? The Horizons Bible study, and the way that the PCUSA supports it, has caused serious damage to the PCUSA and our local churches.

Louisville Only Listens When $$$ are Involved: The only way to get the attention of the General Assembly and its staff is to hit them in the pocketbook. Can Assemblies error. Yes! This past GA is an excellent example of an Assembly the erred—more than once. Can these errors be undone? It is too early to tell. Louisville only listens when churches withhold money.

Summary: Churches are leaving the PCUSA. Presbyteries are taking stands on following the Book of Order concerning ordination. The PCUSA is in crisis. Swift, firm action is needed immediately. We cannot wait until the next General Assembly for action. Churches all across the country need to withhold GA per capita to send a strong statement to General Assembly. Churches need to ask their presbyteries to not “make up the difference” when the presbytery sends in the collected per capita. Then, churches across the country need to send overtures to the next General Assembly which forbids a presbytery from paying the per capita for those churches which withhold per capita.


At 5:22 AM , Anonymous Larry said...

Some other points to consider.

1. Why send any money to Olympia Presbytery? Has the presbytery ever adopted any resolution condemning Trinity Report, 9/11 book, or Kirkpatrick's actions and inactions?

2. Why send any money to Alaska and Northwest Synod? Has the synod ever adopted any resolution condemning Trinity Report, 9/11 book, or Kirkpatrick's actions and inactions?

3. Why send any money to GA special offerings?

4. GA Per Capita is but 12% ($12 million) of its budget. If your church instead supports Presbyterian Missions, will the money budgeted by GA for those Missions be redirected?

5. Does Olymipia Presbytery make up per capita from other sources for the amount not submitted by a church?

6. Does Olympia Presbytery play games by making a "mission" gift to GA to make up for the "per capita" that is not paid by the churches?

If a church elects to use "money" as a means to get the denominational entities attention, then the church needs to stop all funding of all denominational entities. There are too many ways the presbytery, synod, and GA can play games when only GA per capita is withheld.

At 7:59 AM , Blogger Pastor Lance said...

Thanks for your comments! I believe it is possible to support Presbyterian mission without giving that money to General Assembly. I will suggest that the money goes to Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship -- they are a group of Presbyterians that fund mission efforts to unreached people groups.

You ask, "Why send any money to Olympia Presbytery?" Olympia Presbytery did take a stand against this past General Assembly in its resolution on ordination. As of this date no actions have been taken concerning the Trinity report--still could happen in the future.

As for the Synod, it is not their place (or thier mission) to comment on things like the Trinity report. That does not mean that they cannot adopt such resolutions. I cannot see that the Synod of Alaska/Northwest has done anything "wrong" to this point.

It is my understanding that there are going to be several churches in Olympia Presbytery that are going to withhold GA per capita. I do not believe that the current financial situation of the presbytery is such that the Presbytery will be able to "make up" any per capita that is withheld. If our session votes to withhold per capita, and if the Presbytery of Olympia makes up that amount in what it sends to General Assembly, then I will recommend to session that we withhold Presbytery per capita next year.

At 12:44 PM , Anonymous Jim Loughlin said...

Just remember, if you think it is defiance (denying basic Christian essentials such as the deity of Christ), it is viewed as dissent. If you think it is dissent (withholding per capita), it is viewed as defiance. Dissent is in the eye of the beholder and it is as undefiend as any other essential in the PCUSA.

At 1:58 PM , Anonymous Larry said...

Be sure when you give money to Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship that they are not using the money to support PCUSA missions that would have received funds from Louisville. I do not know about PFF, but Medical Benevolence Foundation regularly pays a portion of the salaries and expenses of PCUSA missions.

Our Presbytery voted 3 years ago to not make up per capita not received from the churches. This year the Presbytery leadership "slipped in" a new budget item called "in support of the GA mission".

Hardly by happenstance, the amount of per capita money that has been withheld by the churches is equal to the new GA mission budget.

Of course, most of the commissioners to presbytery never ask any questions and rubber stamp the budget, so they recently approved this new concept. Little do the churches know that the presbytery is playing games with them.

Our church stopped giving any money to the denomination three years ago and other than a lot of squawking, they have not been able to bring us back to funding a denomination that is antithetical to our beliefs.

So even though your presbytery has not done anything "wrong", you may want to encourage them with the money prod to do more things "right". Like approve resolutions condemning Kirkpatrick's actions/inactions, the Horizon Bible Study, etc.

It is one thing for churches to stand up to the denomination and say enough is enough. The impact is much greater if presbyteries go public with criticism of the hierarchy.


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