What comes to mind when you read a twitter post by a well known progressive Presbyterian author asking if any Presbytery has funds available for starting new church developments and you see a progressive pastor, in your presbytery, who advocated for LGBT ordination, answering her with, “Sacramento approved grant process last week. Applications ready in 2-3 months. $1.6M set aside.” She tells him she knows a few people who would be interested. He tells her and others where to look for applications, and you know where most of that money came from.
The money mostly came from two vibrant evangelical churches, Fair Oaks Presbyterian and First Presbyterian Church ofRoseville that were punished with unreasonable charges in order to leave the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) with their property. When I argued many months ago in presbytery that at least half the money, which was nearly 2 million, should be returned to the churches, the main argument against that was the need to help members who didn't want to leave.
But in a Presbytery Report Attachment C - Report of the Congregational Care Committee it is stated that “The Committee determined there was not the climate or the interest among those who remained part of the PC (USA) or who were presently unaffiliated to create the core needed for a traditional new church development process to be pursued in these particular geographic areas.” So now the money will be used for the new 1001 worshiping communities for the PC (USA.)
My thought here is that some may not want to be a part of a new community that is funded by money forced from those who themselves have flourishing ministries that both feed the poor and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. How can that which was forced from brothers and sisters in Christ be of any use to God? It isn't stealing from Peter to pay Paul; it is stealing from Christ to feed our own arrogance. And the use of this money in this way is harmful, not to the two churches who are now Evangelical Presbyterian Churches, but to the PC (U.S.A.) churches who use the money.
God does give gifts. As James puts it:
Do not be deceived my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation of shifting shadow.” (1:16-17)
Douglas J. Moo in his commentary on James points out that the two verses quoted above refer to God’s creative power and the difference between his unchanging nature and the changing nature of his creation. God’s gifts come from his unchanging nature; they are not founded in our troubled and sinful brokenness. They are not pulled from troubled situations. God will build his church in truth, unity, love and purity. But none of those attributes entails the use of monies that are not ours to take. Instead we should be waiting on the gifts that are given by God alone.
Now Centerpoint Community Church.