Thursday, February 4, 2016

A letter from the AC to members of Journey & Hope Presbyterian churches

Free to be free:

picture by Stephen Larson
The document below was just sent out to both members of Journey Church and the new Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Folsom, Hope Presbyterian Church. I have not yet received it but some members of Hope's session have received the letter.
 The letter was written by the administrative commission that was assigned to Journey on Saturday, January the 30th. Besides the rudeness of sending this letter out to those who are now members of Hope Presbyterian Church (EPC) there are several other glaring problems.
 While expressing their affirmation of those who believe they must leave the PC (U.S.A.) the authors of the letter have offered nothing. Their intent, which succeeded, was to send a people away without property or money because they chose biblical authority over human desires and experience. I am thinking now of James 2:17.
 The letter writers state that, "Pastor Huusko, the session and some members of the congregation are leaving  Journey Church effective, February 1, 2016. They are forming Hope Presbyterian Church under the Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination."(Italics mine.) The negotiating team and now the AC have been and are reluctant to admit that there are a majority of the past members of Journey who opted to leave.
 On Sunday morning, the 31st, over 160 members registered as charter members of our new church. Many others, who are not yet members of Journey asked to sign. They will be members when they go through a class and are received into Hope. God has truly blessed us with wonderful enthusiastic people.
Toward the end of the letter the authors write:
 "There may be some of you who are not yet sure what you want to do or how the Holy Spirit is leading. We would encourage you to take all the time need. Please do not feel pressured into making a decision on anyone else's timetable but yours and God's. You may even decide to attend both services for awhile until you sense where the Spirit is calling you. Our hope is that in the end we can see two effective churches emerge out of this situation, who can serve God in the Folsom community and reach out to all who need to hear the good news."
 Can you imagine sending this letter to those who are now already members of the new church? This is truly unacceptable. Except for a few truly gracious persons, the discernment team, the negotiating team and now the AC have harassed members of session and even the congregation. At the very first meeting of the session with the discernment team the chair suggested that we should just turn our keys over to her. She reminded us of this before the congregation at a meeting when she also chaired the negotiating team.
 I wrote earlier of the freedom of coming away from the control of an apostate denomination, and it is freedom no matter the harassment. That freedom belongs to those united with Christ in his life death and resurrection. St. Paul wrote of Christ's exultation in heaven and then places us with him by adoption:
 "But God being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in ages to come we might show the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:4-5)
This is a freedom that places us beyond the manipulations of the Enemy of God. God will continue on with the good work he has begun. We are free to be free in Christ. No one can touch that.


Alan said...

I was pleased to be part of the Presbytery of the Pacific meeting in Orange CA. which received, into transitional membership, the former Journey Church and Teaching Elder David Huusko. Welcome and know that you/they are appreciated and will feel cared for as part of this Presbytery. It is a transition and blessing I am still getting used too.

So far, the only confusion I can see down the road is that we also received NEW Hope Church in Burney Ca into full membership. It is obvious that we are a Hopeful presbytery.

Blessings on you

Alan Wilkerson (TE)
Kenton Church--Portland

Viola Larson said...

Hi Alan, We will be solving that problem within a month. We plan to allow the congregation to help pick our permanent name. We have this one, Hope, because we needed one immediately.

We know that the next meeting will be at Fremont where I used to go to church. There will be a lot of us there for that first Presbytery meeting: )

Jodie said...

The most difficult part of walking away is the actual walking away. For some strange reason, few are actually capable of doing it. They want to prolong the moment, savor it, let all the witnesses see it, play it back again, and again, in slow motion, from all the angles.

That can be entertaining but is it really healthy?

I have found that when I walk away, I only really feel free when I simply walk away and don't look back. If I don't, I end up like Lot's wife, and I turn into a pillar of salt. Unable to move in any direction, bleaching in the sun.

But the future lies ahead. When it is time to move on, MOVE. The past can bury the past.

I am not the walking away type, sometimes way to loyal, or reluctant to leave the party till it is really over, but when I do, I do it with a hop and a skip. It's really kind of invigorating.

Jodie Gallo
Los Angeles, CA

Viola Larson said...

Jodie are you talking about walking away from a denomination because they no longer claim the same faith you do, or are you talking about something else. I wish life was that easy; I still have friends in the PC USA that I have worked with for many years. They mean a lot to me and I will be praying for them. Besides there are still needs that I can hardly refuse. The PW's next study is on Jesus and that is available to more than PCUSA women. I may write reviews. I have written about Christianity in particular and religions in general, for many years. I probably still will. And the PCUSA is a part of that world.

Alan said...

I hope we can meet at that time. Good bless you.

Viola Larson said...

I hope so too.

Anonymous said...

Jodie your general point is well taken, but it seems to me that the AC should stop meddling in the new EPC church's membership. That is what I understood to be Viola's concern (am I right, Viola?).


John Erthein
DeFuniak Springs, FL

Viola Larson said...

Yes John,
You are right.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful news that you are free at last, free at last. The price was high, but freedom is beyond price. We at Community Pres. in Vacaville have prayed long and hard for you folks at God answers prayers. We will not pray for Hope or whatever name you choose to bring God's joy to many more.

Anonymous said...

somehow my typing got eaten by computer bugs. We WILL pray for Hope. And God does answer prayers.

Viola Larson said...

Thank you for your prayers. Our service this afternoon was wonderful. Go to

L.Lee said...

We need to turn "walking away" into being called by God to a new place. Discernment is coming to the place where you "hear" God calling you to do His will and like any "servant missionary or ambassador" we need to act on that call. God has things planned for Hope church.....for good...for God's Glory alone. Those who stay in PCUSA are called to stay and may God bless them too.

I recognize the anger and anxiety on both sides......God is sovereign and will bring His will through the messiness of this
process. Of course the Presbytery should honor the discernment process they set up. But many in the PCUSA leadership believe in the "Big Tent" philosophy so strongly that they are in denial in accepting that the majority would NOT
be called to stay in the PCUSA. That is the consequence of their own actions and rejection of the authority of God's word.

Many churchs are just behind yours in the process, so thank you for sharing because it prepares us all for the way forward!
Again, speak about going to the next place God want you to go instead of the negative leaving. That is the hope and power we have when we obey the call and act on it!

Viola Larson said...

Thanks L.Lee I think you have brought a lot of clarity to the subject. I truly believe that God has called others to stay. I thought that was my call until this last GA when I physically, in the Israel & Palestine committee, felt the denomination move away from me. It was as though God simply reached down and removed my focus. But I know God wants others there to be prophetic for him.

A. Jenkins said...

Viola – your feelings are getting the best of you here. As you left the Journey congregation did you notify the new clerk of session or the AC that you are renouncing membership at Journey and want to be removed immediately from active membership and removed from all future communications? This letter is perfectly acceptable and quite gracious in this situation. It sounds like as a charter member of a new EPC congregation you are not requesting transfer by letter and will have to join the new EPC congregation eventually by reaffirmation of faith. Not sure how you would expect The AC or clerk in your old congregation to know this?

L.Lee said...

Yes, Viola......I share your feelings and experience about the last GA and others going back ten years or more.
Since I know God is sovereign, and Scripture is clear, then I could only come to the conclusion that God wanted the renewal people to separate ourselves from the PCUSA. When my church went into the discernment process, I had a lot of anger (toward the leadership in PCUSA and especially Presbytery leaders who ignored the will of God and put forth commissioners who represented their will.). Those who wanted to remain PCUSA also had anger (toward our session).
The only way for me to rise above that anger is to see the calling from God as more important than my anger. Many people have left their comfort zone, their jobs, their home to GO in service to God. We can be bold to continue to speak out when the opportunity arises as you have in this post!
God will give us the power to move with Him and be where He leads. It has been hard to see closed doors, dissapointing decisions over and over again from the GA, Courts, Presbyteries leaders in Louiville but through it all God has clarified His will for me.
I still have anger that I must rustle with, but more and more I can see victory in the movement God is bringing about.
My church may see the same result as Sacramento has given you.......and I will wrestle as you do now, but God is with us.
Thanks for letting me share in the movement with you!

Henry Paris said...

One can always chose to walk by the order of one's convictions, but one also is obligated not to try to rewrite a covenant defined by the book of Order and freely entered into by members of the congregation. The property belongs to the denomination that may, or may not choose to provide some accommodation. I would think that a modicum of humility on the part of those leaving might be powerful medicine to the presbytery considering how to resolve the split, rather than indulging in hostile recrimination suggesting one party is on the side or truth and the other is on the side of sin, rather than a good-faith disagreement on polity by both parties.

grace and peace...