Thursday, September 13, 2007

So Long, Clif—Part 2.

Dahlia of the day: Insipic. (This is the most unique dahlia in my garden. The photo in-no-way does it justice. The main blossoms are large, but extremely difficult to photograph (they tend to be on the main stem with higher sides buds around them. Everyone who sees Insipic comments on it.)

Clifton Kirkpatrick, the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will not be seeking another term as Stated Clerk. Yesterday I began a critique of Kirkpatrick’s self evaluation of his time as Stated Clerk. Yesterday I looked at two areas: “…expression of my passion…” and “…my sense of call…”.

In looking back at his service as Stated Clerk, Kirkpatrick said:

“Serving as Stated Clerk has offered me a platform I would never have dreamed possible—to serve the church I love and to give expression to my passions, my sense of call, and my gifts for the things that really matter. It has been a tremendous privilege to give voice to the witness of our church to the gospel and to justice and peace in the world, to be a leader in the ecumenical movement, to guide the church (even in our contentions) toward unity in diversity, to uphold our Constitution, and to pioneer in new ways to express old truth as we seek to discern the mind of Christ and develop a polity and a church for the 21st century.”

“…my gifts for the things that really matter”

Really matter to whom?

What are the “things that really matter? There is no concrete mechanism for deciding the issues that really matter to the denomination. For example, on several occasions the General Assembly has voted to change ordination standards to open the way for straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons who are sexually active outside of a marriage between one man and one woman to be ordained as Ministers of Word and Sacrament (in non-Presbyterian lingo—pastors). Did those General Assemblies decided “what really matters?” Or, did the Presbyteries and the rank-and-file of the denomination decided what “really matters” when they defeated these proposed changes by ever increasing numbers? Does the Washington D.C. office of the Presbyterian Church decide what “really matters” when it advocates positions that are contrary to General Assembly policy and actions? Or, is it the responsibility of the Stated Clerk to ensure that the Washington office complies with GA policy and actions? The last General Assembly passed the infamous PUP report (Peace, Unity and Purity). Presbyterians across the nation called upon the Stated Clerks office to give an interpretation as to the meaning of what was actually passed. For weeks, even months, the Office of the Stated Clerk was silent. Our denomination was in an uproar. Did that matter?? Silence.

There are things that Kirkpatrick cares passionately about—these things matter to him. I am confident that he uses his gifts to work toward these things (what ever they may be). Other than that, I do not believe that he has done an acceptable job of recognizing the things that “really matter” to the PCUSA.

I will comment more specifically on how he fulfilled his position description at a later time. I have searched and searched the internet for that position description and my searches have come up empty. I have found position descriptions for dozens of presbytery stated clerk positions—nothing for the GA position. I am considerably more tech savvy than the average Presbyterian in the pews—if I can’t find the position description then the average Presbyterian won’t be able to find it. I have e-mailed the Stated Clerk asking for a copy of the position description.

“…to give voice to the witness of our church to the gospel…”

Wikipedia definition of gospel: “… to denote the proclamation of God’s saving activity in Jesus of Nazareth, or to denote the agape message proclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth…”

I don’t believe that that average Presbyterian has heard the Stated Clerk “give voice to the witness of our church to the gospel.” The average person who reads a newspaper has never heard the Stated Clerk “give voice to the witness of our church to the gospel.” National church leaders probably have heard the Stated Clerk give such a witness.

The PCUSA and the world need to hear from the Stated Clerk of the PCUSA on a consistent basis. We need to hear what is happening in our church and how we are doing at witnessing to the gospel of Christ. The report does not always have to be “rosy”—we don’t need the Stated Clerk to blow smoke up our butts. We need to hear the truth—even if it hurts. For once I would like to hear the Stated Clerk say that we are doing a crappy job of evangelism. I would like to hear our Stated Clerk say that we have failed our Racial/Ethnic Schools and Colleges as they cease operations due to financial difficulties. I know, I know—they are all “independent” entities. Still, if we “claim” them to be our racial/ethnic schools and colleges then we had better do something about this critical situation. Speak to us, Mr. Stated Clerk!

In my opinion, the Stated Clerk has done a so-so job in this area.


At 5:16 AM , Anonymous Roulette Games said...

I will refrain from comments.


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