Sunday, October 16, 2011
My church voted to leave PC (U.S.A.) A reason to hurry away (A correction)
Well, of course, there are technical reasons, such as it will take so long, or it may not even happen if the General Assembly votes it down.
Picture by Ethan McHenry
But in my Presbytery I believe there are other reasons. And I address this because if other Presbyterians and Presbyteries listen in they may begin to understand a little bit some of the discouragements and real concerns among many of the orthodox in the denomination. (But first, as I have explained, ad nauseam, I am not leaving because God has not released me.) Also my explanation focuses on my own presbytery; I just believe it may image other places.
This is the discouragement part and it can only be understood by those who have been a part of Presbytery by being either a Minister of Word and Sacrament or a commissioned Ruling Elder: The utter weariness of fighting battles that contain such a dark side. One can debate or dialogue in good faith still expecting disagreement, and yet to have arguments and decisions mean nothing because of unconstitutional actions destroys all trust.
After the Peace, Unity, and Purity Task Force recommendations were adopted one of the churches in my Presbytery ordained two gay elders. (This was when we still had a fidelity and chastity clause in the Book of Order) The Sacramento Presbytery sent a committee to look into the matter and make recommendations. The committee ended by sending a letter of apology to the church and when a very faithful pastor complained in presbytery the head of that committee made fun of him on the floor of presbytery. He immediately apologized when many of us more or less booed. (Correction-I removed this last sentence because after doing a great deal of research, speaking to the faithful pastor, and finding no records, I am not sure that the person I linked to is the same person who made fun of the pastor in presbytery. I do not want to slander anyone.)
One of the gay elders, before 10-A was adopted, was elected by our Presbytery to be a commissioner at the General Assembly that voted in 10-A to be voted on by all of the presbyteries. All of this came about, not originally because of voting in the presbytery, but because a committee led by someone who wanted ordination for LGBT people, failed to apply biblical and constitutional correction and instead made fun of those who were concerned about that failure.
This is one evolving instance. There are many others. Another: a church deciding to marry same gender couples when it was lawful in California but still unconstitutional in the PC (U.S.A) - and no-I am not writing about that other person but about my presbytery.
Another is the speech made by one of the members of the discernment team today. He stated that contrary to Fremont the Danville Church in the San Francisco Presbytery had taken 16 months for discernment. He failed to state that part of that time was because an "ecclesiastical litigation was filed by three minister members against the presbytery (not the Danville church directly),complaining that the presbytery was letting the church go under terms that were too lenient. That case is now in mediation." They have been waiting for a long time and under great duress. (I have corrected this section with the help of a friend.-the outcome is the same.)
All of this has to do with the reason that many in leadership in orthodox/evangelical/reformed PC (U.S.A.) churches are inclined to hurry to a place where mission, fellowship and honest love can envelop them rather than fighting wearisome battles whose victory can be so easily thwarted simply by ignoring constitutional laws. This is a plea to all- In Christ’s high priestly prayer he not only called his church to unity but also to truth. Unity without truth would be a false unity—perhaps that is because Jesus is truth.