Friday, November 14, 2008

New Wineskins Convocation V – Final Thoughs.

A few more dahlia pics before getting to the blog. These dahlias are from my 2008 garden. The dahlias in the order they appear are: Horse Feathers, Hot Number, Hy Debut and Insipic.

The New Wineskins Association of Churches Convocation V is in the history books and I am back at Evergreen Presbyterian Church getting into the daily pastoral grind. I have put off writing this “final thoughts” piece until I have had some time to give it the attention it deserves. So here goes…

Thought #1: The PCUSA made a HUGE mistake by blowing off the New Wineskins Convocation. To the best of my knowledge there was not a single PCUSA dignitary at the convocation. Our General Assembly moderator went to the Presbyterian Coalition meeting. He was even allowed to address the Coalition assembly. Hunter Farrell was at the Presbyterian Global Fellowship meeting. Where were those in leadership of the PCUSA? Fact: The majority of churches that are a part of the New Wineskins Association of Churches are faithful churches with the PCUSA!!!!! These churches do not like the direction that the denomination has been going and they are experiencing a sense of abandonment, betrayal and loss. So, where is their (our) denomination when these/our churches are hurting? I can tell you where they weren’t—they weren’t in Cleveland at the New Wineskins Convocation!! Shame, shame, on the leadership of the PCUSA. It is almost as though the denomination wants these churches to leave the denomination.

Thought #2: Worship was the central component of the Convocation. Worship services were held a various times during the day. The music was inspirational (see my one exception on a previous post). The pray was humbling. The preaching was inspirational.

Thought #3: Every component of the Convocation was surrounded with prayer. A team was praying every moment that the Convocation was in session. Individuals needing prayer could go to this prayer room to have people pray for them, their church, or what ever the prayer need might be. Those desiring to pray by themselves could pray in prayer room or out in the prayer garden. During worship services, people were encouraged to pray while seated, kneeling, laying prostrate before God or any other way that God was leading them. We had time to pray for those regions in the world where Christians are persecuted. We prayed for missionaries. We prayed. We prayed. We prayed.

Thought #4: Where were the news outlets of the PCUSA? Reporters from across the denomination were in Minneapolis for Covenant Network meeting. (New news article here and here) Why did these “news” outlets choose to skip the New Wineskins Convocation?

Thought #5: The New Wineskins Convocation was not a political meeting. Yes, the New Wineskins Presbytery of the EPC did hold their official meeting. However, I hold fast to my belief that the Convocation was not a political meeting. The Convocation was about local churches becoming “outward focused” (missional) in their ministries. There were no speeches about defeating the proposed amendment to the PCUSA constitution to remove G-6.0106b from the Book of Order. There were no speeches about leaving the PCUSA. There were no speeches about putting forth amendments to the Book of Order at the next meeting of the General Assembly of the PCUSA. The Convocation was about reaching the world with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Thought #6: There was a spirit of solidarity that I have only experienced a couple of times in all of my 20+ years of ordained ministry in the PCUSA. Within the PCUSA and within our presbyteries, there are MANY beliefs about sins, salvation, Jesus, God, morals, the interpretation of scripture, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the virgin birth, etc. There is no sense of solidarity within the PCUSA or my presbytery. The sense of solidarity at the Convocation was overwhelming. The only other times that I have felt this way are when I gather with a group of “like-minded” pastors in my presbytery. Over the past few months we have gotten together several times. The sense of solidarity we experience is rejuvenating and inspiring. It was tremendously refreshing to experience this sense of solidarity at the New Wineskins Convocation.

Thought #7: Next year, I will try to take more leaders from my church to the New Wineskins Convocation VI. I have tried to keep my church’s leadership at “arms-length” from the garbage that goes on at the national level of the denomination. The New Wineskins Convocation would be an excellent example of how the church should function locally, nationally and globally.

Thought #8: Get out of your office when writing your sermon!! For almost two years I have been writing my sermons at my favorite coffee shop. I arrive at The Oasis just after it opens and work for a couple of hours before heading to the office—it reminds me that the church needs to get out from behind its walls and be among the people of our community. One of our speakers confessed that he writes his sermons while at the food court of a local mall. He seeks to be among people who don’t know Christ when he is writing his sermons so that he is constantly reminded of those who need Jesus in their lives. It also serves as a reminder to use language that is understandable by everyone—not just church folks.

Well, that’s about it. Next week I will looking at Presbyterians for Renewal’s plan for how the PCUSA should move forward. Have a great weekend!


At 12:43 PM , Blogger Suzanne said...

Thank you for your comments of last week and your summation. I am speaking for my husband who attended and he wholeheartedly agrees with you. He and the others who attended were equally blessed. Thank you for your faithfuless.

At 1:02 PM , Blogger Viola said...

First of all your flowers are beautiful.

The part about Church officals not coming to the New Wineskins Convocation. I have a guess about why not.

It for the very reason you gave in point 5. Now I am not saying that those who are Evangelicals in leadership in the PCUSA did not come for this reason , but I am betting that it is the reason others did not come. We had a very tiny meeting at our Church of the PFR, it was very refreshing, but some people from our Church and the Presbytery who I know are not in agreement with PRF's views were there and I am fairly certain they just wanted to know what we were about. And there is nothing wrong with that.

But it would be great if everyone was going where they were going because they wanted so much to worship the Lord Jesus Christ.

At 2:02 PM , Blogger linda lee said...


Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your musings were
interesting to note.

What is important is the unity in the Spirit that you experienced!
The Holy Spirit is the ONE who creates unity, not a work of man's efforts. That is what is missing in denomination. May God bring the revival we need, even if it
is through a small group of dedicated churches. God bless you and give you wisdom. Thanks for your steadfast witness!

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