Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My Dad—My Denomination: Hiding the Truth?

Regular readers of this blog will have noticed that it has been silent for the past week and a half. I have been out of town visiting my dad in California and on our Presbytery’s Clergy/Spouse Retreat. I’m back!

Many months ago I had set aside time in my schedule to attend the New Wineskins Association of Churches meeting in Orlando. I was looking forward to that trip. Until… I had several phone calls from my dad. His voice seemed very weak. I learned of some of his health problems. Orlando could wait; I changed my plans so that I could go a visit my dad. I am very glad that I did!

Driving back from Northern California I had a lot of time to think. I love my dad. I am extremely frustrated with my dad. I came to realize that the things that frustrate me with my dad are almost exactly the same thing that frustrates me with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)!

Several months ago my dad was in the hospital and almost died. The doctor told my mother-in-law that he was treating my dad for kidney failure (among all of the other things that were wrong with him). She was shocked. In talking with dad’s “regular” doctor she found out that the doctor had been treating dad’s kidneys for two years!! My dad had failed to tell her about his kidney problems.

Does that sound familiar?!? I feel as though our General Assembly moderator is the only person in Louisville that “levels” with the church. Our Stated Clerk’s end of the year (or was it the first of the year) message about the church had next to nothing about the true state of the denomination. 2006 was a HORRIBLE year for the PCUSA! I have heard nothing from the head of the General Assembly Council (or the Council itself) about the “true” state of the denomination. If they don’t know the state of the church then they are incompetent. If they know the state of the church and fail to accurately communicate it and address it they are unethical and untrustworthy.

There is a way to deal with my dad’s failure to communicate his health difficulties—my step mother goes into every doctor’s appointment with him! There are no more health secrets. I wish it was this easy for the PCUSA.

I am glad that there is going to be some conversations on the future of middle governing bodies. There have been major struggles in those bodies for years—unfortunately, it seems to me that the conversations had to be started by the leadership of our middle governing bodies. Why didn’t the national staff spot these difficulties? Maybe they did and they just didn’t tell the whole church!

Some national “committees” hide behind closed doors as they dream up new “policies.” Are they afraid of the light of public scrutiny? The Bible tells us that darkness doesn’t like light (John 3:19-20). The light exposes what the darkness hides. It is time for the PCUSA to experience “light.” The national church needs to conduct its business in plain view so that there are no secrets (except when dealing with personnel issues). No more closed meetings! No more hiding the state of the PCUSA! No more painting a “rosy” picture of our current reality. We need openness and honesty from Louisville. If not, there will be suspicion. Louisville has lost our trust. They will have to work hard to regain it—if it can be rebuilt.


At 1:19 PM , Anonymous will spotts said...

"Are they afraid of the light of public scrutiny?"

Yes - they are afraid of public scrutiny. Those who populate the committees know very well that the policies they embrace are opposed by large majorities of Presbyterian members. The Presbyterian Panel's own statistics illustrate this. The committees that operate in secret understand that they will only get their way if people are kept uninformed. The Stated Clerk has operated in much the same way - making different, conflicting public statements to different audiences - assuming (probably rightly - but decidedly dishonestly) that no one will bother to check these.


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