|Picture by Stephen Larson|
This afternoon, December 13, the presbytery negotiating team, (PNT), held a meeting in the Sacramento Presbytery offices, inviting all of those interested in why they were asking for an administrative commission to be put over Journey Church. They also invited those interested in staying in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Many of us attended, both those who wished to stay and those who voted to leave. Several items presented by word and paper are not true. In a handout the PNT team, who did not negotiate with those who voted to leave, stated this:
“The pastor orchestrated those members being selected by the Journey Church Nominating Committee so that those who did not agree to the dismissal were eliminated from consideration. The climate became so unpleasant that some members felt it necessary to leave. Many of them have not found a new church home.”
In contrast to this statement it should be noted, a committee selects new members for deacons and elders. I came to Journey from Fremont Presbyterian Church when they were leaving the PC (U.S.A.) because God called me to renewal work in the denomination and I wasn’t finished. I couldn’t leave. Not until the 2014th General Assembly where I experienced so much corruption I felt it was time to go. But I was already an elder at Journey, and no one in the nominating committee, including the pastor, asked me if I thought we should leave. At the time I would have said no! What they were concerned with was my views on Jesus and biblical authority. They were concerned also with spiritual gifts—mine are discernment and teaching.
The paper also states:
“On November 19, the PNT met with a larger group. Most of the people had been leaders in Journey Church. They had called members they thought would be interested in staying in the PC (U.S.A.). They reported on what the members said. Some of the members indicated that they had voted to dismiss without understanding the full implications. Others indicated that they would be interested in coming back if there were a PC (U.S.A.) Teaching Elder who did not have an agenda of dismissal. Others said that Journey was their church and that they intended to continue attending no matter what denomination. They talked about their long term, mostly more than twenty years, relationships and leadership.”
First the constant abusive references to our pastor in this paper is unacceptable. Even if the words were spoken by others they should not have been placed in a paper seen by the congregation and strangers alike. The PNT needs to apologize.
The other problem, which has to do with truth, surfaced in the conversation. At first one team member made a remark about how anyone could be a member of the group that wanted to stay even if they had never set foot in Journey Church, but when I asked they stated they were just making a point about how the church would grow and be viable. But as the conversation went on it seems that the PNT invited those who had not been members for many years to become a part of what they consider the “true church.”
I had an example of this while going to the restroom during the break. There was a lady behind me I had never seen. We exchanged greetings and I asked her if she was from Journey. She said no, she went to Journey a long time ago but now goes to a Methodist church. I asked how she happened to be at the meeting and she stated that a friend had invited her.
It is one thing to use the word schism as it relates to a small group of people who voted to stay, it is another thing to maneuver the statistics by adding people who have not been members of Journey for many years. It is far easier to use one’s authority to create the appearance of a schism than it is for an actual schism to occur within a body of believers. The PNT team freely admitted that they wanted to keep the property for the PC (U.S.A.) and so their desire led their actions.
Journey Church has many ministries. Children and young people, families and an older generation. They reach out in their ministries to a food bank, Teen Challenge, a school in Africa, ministry in Russia and Mexico. There is so much more, but I make this point that the PNT is only focused on the PC (U.S.A.) as though that is the only important part of the ministry of Christ. While God will surely be our help, our ministries will suffer as we transfer to another place.
I made one of the PNT members angry tonight as I left. I told him, I believed they cared more for the PC (U.S.A.) then they did for Jesus and his kingdom because they did not care for the harm that will be caused to His ministry in Folsom. But I still believe this. Jesus said where your treasure is there will your heart be also. Jesus is Lord of His Church which includes all of the saints in heaven and on earth.
Perhaps the property belongs to the PC (U.S.A.), they will make it so it seems, but they cannot unmake the transforming work of Christ in his Church. And where He is not they cannot build His kingdom.