Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hyposcrisy !!!

Lets contrast the welcoming, inclusive & liberal More Light Presbyterian gathering being held in Rochester NY, with the evangelical Fellowship of Presbyterians gathering in Minneapolis.


Access for all ?? - check!
All included in table conversations? - check!
Access to any and all seminars, breakouts? - check!

More Light:

Access for all? - no
All included in table conversations? - no
Access to any and all seminars, breakouts? - no

It seems that someone who was attending the Rochester meeting, an evangelical, was barred from workshops by the leadership of that "inclusive, affirming and tolerant" group. It appears that there are secret plans being developed for the next GA that they do not want publicized.

Contrast that with the openness that the Fellowship had in Minneapolis. No secret plans, nope everything that was being planned or talked about was out in the open, available for anyone to read, comment and publish.

And so it goes ...

Thoughts on the Fellowship

Its been a week since the Fellowship of Presbyterians gathering in Minneapolis. There was a lot of information to try to digest via tweets, so I waited for some attendees to put their thoughts together.

Here is a overview of the gathering from an attendee.

The Fellowship gathering was defined by its worship. The first worship, the night before the conference began, had more than a thousand. Each day of the conference began and ended with worship. And the ballroom was packed – for all of them. Vic Pence, who spoke at the final worship, was prepared to make a joke about attendance at final worship as a lead in to his “the power of a remnant” presentation, but had to make a joke about his joke because worship was full. The singing, the prayers, the speakers, were all very powerful, and all focused on Christ. Speakers spoke on “the need to focus on where Jesus is leading”, “What do we need to do to be aligned with what God is doing?”, “Turning anger to grace”, and “the power of a remnant to make a difference”.

Seminars described the possible organizational options within the fellowship, ways to work within presbyteries, in spite of presbyteries, alternative forms of presbyteries, and the New Reformed Body. More on those in a moment. But did I mention the worship? And the general air of laughter, and friends calling out across the room. People meeting friends from seminary, from online, making new connections.

The informational presentations were done via video feed to every conference room in the hotel. Conferees were randomly grouped in tables of 10 (with the exception of EPs and staffers who were randomly grouped with each other, but not the general population). There was time after each briefing for the tables to discuss and provide feedback and questions (via email). A few folks had as their job for the conference, to sort through the emails and consolidate questions and prioritize based on frequency. Q&A times were built into the schedule for the organizers to answer some of these questions. This led to wonderful, meaningful conversations between the elders and pastors attending the conference.

An example table had 4 elders (all from large churches), 6 pastors: two from large churches, 3 from middlesized, and a pastor from a small town church. It helped people to process the information from multiple viewpoints. Some tables had folks who were against all that the Fellowship stood for, and were naysaying all that
they heard, but their influence was limited to the table(s) where they were. All in all it was upbeat, fast-paced, focused on glorifying God, and seeking answers both within and beyond the PCUSA.

The Fellowship seeks to be an order within the PCUSA. The Fellowship will be a covenanted community of churches and individuals who gather around a defined set of essential tenets (to be defined). The focus is on empowering and equipping the congregation: not a congregationalism, but a recognition that the primary agent of ministry is and should be the congregation. Jim Singleton defined a vision for a fellowship that includes Theological Clarity, Missional Passion, Covenantal Commitment to each other, Global Connections, and Leadership in a different way. Under the original Fellowship vision, this would all happen without any PCUSA structural adaptations. It would be much like More Light Presbyterians or the Confessing Churches. But the Fellowship has no interest in playing the politics of the PCUSA – that has gotten us nowhere. The Fellowship wants to renew the PCUSA one church at a time, by engaging in mission.

As mentioned, the Fellowship seeks to be an order within the PCUSA, but also with those in New Reformed Body. The NRB is for those who fear the coming Kenyonization (1) of GLBT ordination and the redefinition of marriage; those for whom the PCUSA has just gone too far afield, or those who are in hostile presbyteries. Although there is the possibility that releasing a church to the NRB will involve less resistance on the part of presbyteries than release to the EPC, there is still great risk here for local congregations, especially depending on the level of antagonism in the presbytery.

Other strategies proposed appealed to churches in different contexts: a congregation in a friendly presbytery who is able to accomplish their mission in an uncompromised way may continue on as they are. This was especially attractive to those in presbyteries such as San Diego and Santa Barbara. In other presbyteries, where it may become difficult to get any candidate through due to close voting habits, it was suggested that presbyteries take advantage of the latitude of nFoG to have more than one CPM/COM. Another alternative was to petition the GA to realign presbyteries or allow the creation of geographic overlapping presbyteries to avoid these stalemates. Obviously these options require the ability to get an overture through the presbytery. Some churches are in openly hostile presbyteries, although the options are presented, unless a national overture is passed and mandated, these churches have no recourse within the PCUSA.

Questions to ask ourselves:

What do we believe? To what extent are we comfortable with the diversity of belief in the PCUSA and to what extent do we believe the PCUSA has erred? Is the difference in theology sufficient to mandate or even warrant action? Should that action be a statement of difference, removal of fellowship, or something else? What should we be/do? Where do we believe God is calling us to mission and to action? To what extent is our mission currently influenced by our membership in the PCUSA – for the positive or negative? What about in the projected future? What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within the current structure for our church and its mission? What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within the various presbytery options or the proposed NRB for our church and its mission?

(1) Rev Kenyon was denied acceptance as a minister because women’s ordination violated his conscience; He was not permitted to declare it a scruple -- effectively making women’s ordination an essential belief.

I plan to have a breakdown of the options posted over the next week.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fellowship Gathering Hecklers

This week, the Fellowship of Presbyterians are holding their August conference. Many evangelical Presbyterians are trying to follow the meeting by using Twitter. A hashtag was created for the meeting to make it very easy to follow the conversation: #MN2011.

There are some at the conference who are giving a fairly good play by play of the proposals. Very informative, and very exciting proposals.

However, there are a few tweeters who are obviously not happy about the conference. In fact, they're downright offended!! How dare those evangelicals talk about The Word, standards, tenets and 'like mindedness' !!!

So they've made it their mission this week to disrupt the twitter feed from Minneapolis with snarky comments, disparaging speakers, and outright insults. All because the Fellowship insists on following 2,000 years of biblical teachings, and not conforming to the world of today.

Words like ugliness, hate, oppression and schism are bandied about. Heck, they don't even like the way we tweet. There's one person who thinks that we need to be trained to use twitter, this person tweeted through another hashtag: "Quick! I need a guide to Twitter etiquette! A church conference has brought a new crew to Twitter, but they don't how to interact." Another comment was "I pray that pastors and elders behave better with their congregants and colleagues in person than they do with strangers on Twitter." and "It's full of trolls! Trolls!" I wonder if they know where that term came from, probably has no idea what USENET is.

Then there was the one that it seems was reTweeted all over the PCUSA hashtag: "Is anyone surprised that #mn2011 is scheduled during #pcusa ordination exams? Including the voices of future leaders must not be a priority." Of course, the answer to that was because the original conference was for a small group of currently called Pastors. Well, the circumstances changed, as did the size of the group.

Well, many (including yours truly) really don't use Twitter on a daily or even monthly basis. Heck, if you think you can say something really important in 140 characters, then you really don't have much to say.

Most of us on there are trying to follow what's going on, many of us could not attend the conference, but are interested in the proposals that are being brought forth. Yet we are subjected to the intolerance, bigotry and hatred of those who claim that we are the ones who are intolerant, haters and bigotted.

And so it goes ...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Well .. duh !!!!

The Presbyterian Outlook today posted an article about the Mexican Presbyterian Church's (INPM) voting to end its partnership with the PC(USA) after 139 years. It seems that, along with evangelical Presbyterian in the PC(USA), the INPM is upset with the recent change to the ordination standards in the Book of Order.

The Outlook reported
"The PC(USA) representatives asked their Mexican partners to agree to a time of discernment, in part to see how they could continue to work together in mission despite differing views over issues such as ordaining gays and lesbians, or women’s ordination."

“Despite the significant theological differences that 10-A puts between our churches, the mission context of increasing violence on our borders, the precarious situation of the poor in both nations, and our own church's need for the INPM's help in sharing the Gospel with Spanish-speakers in the U.S. cries out for prayerful strategizing and increased mission collaboration,” Farrell (Editor's Note: - Hunter Farrell, director of PC(USA)World Mission) wrote after that meeting. “The truth is we need each other now more than ever.”

OK ... there are some differences over women's ordination, not a major issue as many orthodox, Reformed bodies share these differences. Some ordain women as TEs & REs, and others don't. However, most do agree that there is a tension between some passages in Scripture that that can support or deny women's ordination.

I don't call that a significant theological difference, if it really was significant, the INPM would have probably broke it off long ago.

No, the significant theological difference was the changes brought about by amendment 10A. It is a significant change in the covenant relationship between the denominations that the INPM could not ignore.

Yet the director of World Missions for the PC(USA) thinks that the social justice aspects of the relationship should keep us working as partners. In the above quote he says
... (PCUSA's) ... need for the INPM's help in sharing the Gospel with Spanish-speakers in the U.S. cries out for prayerful strategizing and increased mission collaboration

The problem as I believe the INPM saw it was which Gospel?? The one the INPM believes is true where we're told to be in the world, not of the world, the one where God labels sin as sin; or the one now being espoused by the PC(USA) wherein the church conforms to the world and sin is what we say it is.

Many of our partners around the world are re-evaluating their relationship with the PC(USA) because of 10A, and this comes as a surprise to many in Louisville? Didn't the prophetic testimony of Archpriest Siarhei Hardun at the 2010 GA give anyone on the left pause?

And so it goes ....

Update: after reading some information about Hunter both online, and elsewhere, my kneejerk reaction was rather harsh. Going back to the Outlook article, I realize that the talk about differences that included women's ordination as one of the issues was not a direct quote from Hunter Farrell, and I do apologize for that mistake.

That said, whomever made that remark wasn't thinking.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Severed Dreams

OK ... the title looks interesting, and it does have some background behind it. It is the title of a Babylon 5 episode where the commander of the Babylon 5 station declares its independence from Earthgov. Earthgov, directed by its power hungry president, has brutally suppressed any dissent from what the president, and his allies (both on Earth and in space) have decided. Capt. John Sheridan, commander of Babylon 5 has had enough, and declares B5 independent of Earthgov.

There are parallels within the PC(USA). Evangelicals are being repressed from speaking of Scriptural truth by those who label such beliefs as fundamentalist, bigoted and homophobic. The liberals, using the rallying cry of 'justice', year after year introduced proposed changes to the Book of Order in order to allow a practice what Scriptures call sin, to be allowable for ruling and teaching elders. All the while, slowly getting those who agree with them into positions on local presbytery committees, on synods and at GA.

The consistent pressure from those within, and from those outside the denomination to view sexual sin as natural, or given by God wore down many evangelicals to the point where they either withdrew in place, or left for a more Scriptural denomination. Those who were left proclaiming the truth of the Gospel were shouted down as old fashioned, bigots, or worse.

Finally, the passing of amendment 10A, and the uncertainty of nFOG has finally severed the dreams of many evangelicals for a Spiritual revival in the PC(USA). Groups on the left are already calling for a change in the Book of Order to call marriage a union of 'two persons' rather than one of a 'man and a woman'.

Its time to declare independence from the PC(USA). I hope many know of the Fellowship gathering occurring in Minneapolis on August 25th and 26th. It started as a gathering to try to do 'church' outside of the way it was being done. There was much distrust in the denomination at the beginning of the year, and this group decided to sit and figure a way evangelicals could work together outside of the denominational structures.

Since the votes on 10A and nFOG, it has turned into a gathering of evangelical Presbyterians looking for guidance in this new reality, and a way to declare their independence from the PC(USA); whether staying within the denomination, or moving outside of it.

There are over 2,000 people signed up. To give you an idea of the numbers that are attending, only 1,900 people were signed up for the biggest PC(USA) event this year, the Big Tent in Indianapolis. (H/T to the GAJunkie who has a few ideas about the gathering on his blog).

The total number attending, however, sounds like a drop in the bucket in a denomination of 2,016,091 members; but there are 800 churches being represented in a denomination of 10,560 congregations. That's close to 8% of congregations in the PC(USA). You can assume that perhaps another 2 or 3 hundred other churches couldn't send a representative, so lets assume that 1 in 10 PC(USA) churches are in support of the Minneapolis event.

That number of churches can make a definite change to the PC(USA). I'm praying that those who attend continuously ask the Spirit to guide them; that they deal with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ; that they can individually disagree on the specifics of the way forward, but all agree on the need to move forward.

I pray that our severed dreams are made whole.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Gobsmacked ... !!

World English Dictionary
gobsmacked (ˈɡɒbˌsmækt)
— adj slang ( Brit ) astounded; astonished

My initial reaction to the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission decisions this week not to make any decisions, was that of stunned silence. Having been to Scotland a few times, and a frequent viewer of BBC America, the British slang word gobsmacked came to mind. The term quite says it all as I've been pondering what to say, although I really can't get a fully themed thought together on the 'not decision'.

Some on the liberal side says that making a decision is not a good idea:
"If the highest court, in these rulings, is anticipating choosing a right and wrong between interpretations, it seems to me that we are in terrible trouble. The very fact that both these decisions prompted multiple jurors to weigh in with varied explanations of concurrence and dissent indicate that we have within the PCUSA different interpretations and points of view. We are not of one mind on this. It simply is the nature of the church to be of one mind only in Christ Jesus. Beyond our faith in Christ our many minds on many things enrich our lives together." -- Janet Edwards, More Light Presbyterians

My first thought at reading that is, outside of the Scriptures, how can one learn to be of one mind with Christ. Christ who is the great I AM. The second Person of the Trinity, the Three in One. The One who is, the One who was, and the One who will be.

The One who has consistently said that sin is sin, in both Old and New Testaments. This is affirmed in the Hebrew, in the Greek, and in the English translations.

To be of one mind with Christ is not to be of many minds on many things. What exactly does that phrase mean anyway? For over 2,000 years the Church Universal has understood what the practice of sin is, its only in our enlightened 20th and 21st centuries that we call the practice of sin not sin. Yet, I'm to take this new enlightenment as a good thing, since it does not espouse one point of view.

As I have said, I'm gobsmacked. My only conclusion is that the GAPJC didn't want to offend anybody. Apparently, the only One offended will have the final say.

And so it goes ......

Thursday, July 21, 2011

You've got to be kidding ......

I've not written much in the past month or so, even though there's so much that I could write about. The PC(USA) is in the midst of an upheaval that has not been seen since the days before the 'reunion' of the PCUS and UPCUSA.

However, that's not why I decided to write this post today ....

As many of you know, the PC(USA) finished voting on the amendments that were submitted to the presbyteries in June. The updated Book of Order was released on July 11th. Crimson-rock Presbytery ordered a bunch for its churches in order to get a multi-book discount; ok its only $1.50 off each book, but its a savings. At $10.00 a copy (8.50 with discount) its worth the cost, and the price of the book has not gone up in about 10 years or so.

At the same time a new BOO has been released, the PC(USA)usually makes available an Adobe PDF version for download. This has been a great help for those churches who can't afford to get each and every Ruling Elder their own copy. However, this time, the PDF is not available for download as of the date of this post. Its not as if it takes a long time to add the link, after all, they added a link to be able to directly purchase the hard copy of the BOO on the Constitution page of the PC(USA) website.

No, they could have done so, but instead they added a link to enable you to purchase a CD of the PDF for $10.00. WHY ??? They have a link to the Foundations portion of the BOO, but not the rest of it. OK you can copy the PDF for use by your elders, but why not have a link for direct download, why force members of the PC(USA) to have to buy a copy on CD ??

Do they need to generate income for some reason? Although, I fully expect per capita flowing to the Louisville headquarters to drop next year. I don't think that's it. After all, they spent a few thousands dollars (at least) printing and sending a full color brochure to each PC(USA) church telling them about all the great mission opportunities in the PC(USA) that are available for the churches to donate to.

OR ---

Are they trying to keep the Ruling Elders from seeing the actual changes that have been done to the Book of Order? OK, that does sound paranoid, but it doesn't mean it may not be true!

Seriously, why isn't the PDF available for individual download as the Book of Confessions is? Inquiring Presbyterians want to know!!

That said, I want to thank the Presbyterian Coalition for making the 2011-2013 Book of Order available for ordinary PC(USA) members to download

And so it goes ....

Update: it appears that the idea for charging for the download came from the Stated Clerk himself as a revenue source. This tends to confirm my speculation that they are looking for additional revenue to make up for lost per capita. Yet, the production of the Book of Order is something that SHOULD be covered by per capita funding, shouldn't it ?? As I mentioned, I have no problem with paying for the printed version, after all this would cover the costs of printing, etc. Yet why would they need a revenue stream with all the per capita being sent to Louisville, perhaps they should quit funding areas where the PC(USA) really should not have a presence, such as the Washington office.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

An Aside

As a Reformed Catholic in the PC(USA), I've tried to conform to the teachings of Scripture and the Book of Confessions. Yet, I've just skimmed most of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and read some of the shorter Confessions.

However, with the recent votes on adding Belhar to the list of Confessions in the BOC, I thought it a good idea to think about holding a Bible study on some of them. I picked up a copy of G.I. Williamson's The Westminister Confession of Faith for Study Classes, 2nd ed.. Needless to say it is a comprehensive study, and not one that will be done in 10 or even 20 sessions.

I'm finding the teaching to be fascinating, and not having taken the time to go through the Westminster Confession previously, very enlightening.

I find that Chapter 1, paragraph 6 is highly enlightening:

The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

As ordained Elders (Teaching and Ruling) in the PC(USA), we vow before God and our congregation to conform to Scripture, the Constitution and the Confessions. Does this paragraph not tell us that Scripture is complete, and that what it says is not to be challenged?

The paragraph goes on:

Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word ...

Now this seems to give those who want to reinterpret scripture to say that sin is not sin an out, but does it??

...and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

Note, that is says there are some areas that can be decided by man, but always under the rules of the Word, .. always to be observed. In other words, we cannot change the fact that sin is labeled sin in Scripture. Yet, here we are in the PC(USA) doing just that.

And so it goes ....

Interesting Times for the PC(USA)

The Presbyterian Outlook yesterday (June 7th) came out with an online article proclaiming the passage of the New Form of Government by a majority of Presbyteries.

It also announced that the Belhar Confession, written for a specific time and place (apartheid and separate churches in South Africa) was voted down by over 1/3 of Presbyteries.

The way they phrased it, "the Belhar Confession has been approved by a solid majority – 89 presbyteries to 60 so far. However, this proposal to amend the Book of Confessions requires a two-thirds majority for adoption, so it only takes 58 negative votes to defeat it." Interesting spin ... a solid majority, why not say over a third of presbyteries did not approve of Belhar.

Finally, the article reiterates that amendment 10A passed, removing the so-called fidelity & chastity clause. Now presbyteries and sessions can, if they so desire, recommend for ordination and/or call to office sexually active individuals who are not married. Please note, I do not say sexually active homosexuals. While that clause had been characterized as targeting LGBTs, it covered all those who did not practicefidelity in marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness.

So what's the big deal? Why are the passing of two and the defeat of one so bad?

From the progressive, liberal side the defeat of Belhar removes a confession that was going to be used to justify the ordination of sexually active LGBTs under the new clause .. governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates ...

That said, you have the new nFOG's Foundations section that has a paragraph F-1.0403, which is nicknamed the diversity provision. It states:
The unity of believers in Christ is reflected in the rich diversity of the Church‟s membership. In Christ, by the power of the Spirit, God unites persons through baptism regardless of race, ethnicity, age, sex, disability, geography, or theological conviction. There is therefore no place in the life of the church for discrimination against any person. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shall guarantee full participation and representation in its worship, governance, and emerging life to all persons or groups within its membership. No member shall be denied participation or representation for any reason other than those stated in this Constitution.

Well, guess that tells us. If we believe that sin is sin and others don't we can't do anything about it. Don't believe Christ is Lord, so what come on in; otherwise we'd be discriminating against their theological conviction.

Preach that the Resurrection is just a myth, no worries .. you're OK. (Oh wait, that's already occurred under the current FOG ... nevermind .)

There are other parts of the nFOG that will trouble the PC(USA) in the future. No one knows the full impact of the changes affecting the independence of the local Session, Presbytery or Synod. There are paragraphs referring to the General Assembly, Synod and Presbytery as having authority and power to develop strategy for the mission of the church, the Session is left to lead the congregation in the mission of the whole church. It does sound like the Session is getting the short end of the stick.

In describing the problems with the nFOG at the day of the vote in Crimson-rock Presbytery, one speaker called a yes vote on nFOG " .. buying a pig in a poke ...". I think she got it right, we have no idea where nFOG is going to lead us. I fully expect a boatload of amendments to the BOO next year at General Assembly once individual Sessions (well, those that care to actually interact with others in their presbyteries) and Presbyteries realize the ramifications of the this change. Moving the PC(USA) from a connectional to a hierarchical organization.

So where do we go from here? There are a number of possibilities being talked about, but that's for the next rock.

And so it goes ....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A thought about Christian Marriage .... a small flight of fancy.

I was having a conversation with SWMBO about life after 10A. Her response is that while the PC(USA) slowly abandons the teaching about not conforming to the world, she's going to continue to preach about Christ, His death and resurrection to redeem us, and His teaching to Go and sin no more.

That said, if our state decided to OK same-sex weddings, she'd give up any right to certify civil weddings. She'd only do Christian marriage, which is defined in the PC(USA)'s Constitution part II (Book of Order) as between a man and a woman. If someone wanted to get married, they'd have to go to a Justice of the Peace, Court Judge or County Clerk for the civil registration and certificate after the Church Wedding.

As a flight of fancy, I extrapolated that further. It appears that a Christian marriage, joining a man and woman in Holy Matrimony is actually a good thing for those seniors who are living together outside of civil marriage because they would lose benefits if they were wedded in the eyes of the state. In this way, they could have all the blessings of a Christian marriage and not live in sin, yet to the state they are still the widow and widower of a previous spouse.

It is this living in sin that some one supporting Amendment 10A referred to when talking about the replacement of the fidelity and chastity language. Using my idea, there's no need to repeal 10A for this elder, just do a Christian Marriage. The elder would then be living in the fidelity of Christian marriage, which is not recognized by the state, but is recognized by the Church.

However, there is a sense that the next target of the LGBT alliance funded by the Arcus Foundation (see the Reformed Pastor's posts here and here) will be the area in the PC(USA) Book of Order governing marriage. Currently it says that Christian marriage is between a man and a woman, which according to some is non-affirming, and old fashioned. It should be interesting at the next GA.

And so it goes .....

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What happens now ?

Many evangelicals in the PC(USA) have thrown in the towel over the news that South Louisiana flipped their vote from supporting biblical ordination standards, to against this past weekend.

One blogger notes that since 2008 when the last go round happened and biblical standards were supported in S.L.P, about 7 or so churches left the denomination for a more biblically faithful denomination. He figures that those seven churches probably would had enough Presbytery representation to defeat the measure this time around.

So what happens now? The way I look at it is that those who are faithful to biblical standards of chastity and marriage must make an effort to attend the remaining presbytery meetings on the 10A vote, no matter what inconveniences you need to overcome. You just can't sit back and say that someone else will defeat it, there is no one else!!

You need to attend those votes on nFOG and Belhar. You need to understand that rejecting Belhar will make it harder to justify ordinations that do not conform to Biblical standards. For under the 10A language, Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates. If Belhar is not in the BOC, it cannot be used to water down what the existing confessions say about sin.

Then there's nFOG, where language takes away much of the local church Session's discretion on contributions to higher governing bodies. That means that you could be forced (depending on the Presbytery) to pay Per Capita to support the headquarters in Louisville.

The same headquarters that created a 10 or 12 page, full color magazine touting all the good that the mission arm of the PC(USA) is doing. I'm wondering how much producing and mailing 10 or 12 copies to each congregation cost the denomination; probably would have paid for a few missionaries?? They could have done the same with a small pamphlet that contained a link to the online magazine.

Its not over, quit throwing in those towels. Consider this a wake up call to end all wake up calls.

And so it goes ....

Friday, February 4, 2011

Arizona White Paper

A few weeks ago, a group of tall steeple pastors met in Scottdale, AZ to discuss the state of the PCUSA. All of these pastors are firmly in the moderate to conservative branch of the denomination.

A letter introducing the White Paper, along with the White Paper itself was published on the Presbyterian Outlook website

As expected there are a few responses, some for, most against. There is much railing against the fact that all the signers were pastors of tall steeple churches, and that they are all white males.

I'm not sure that I could tell that they are all white males from their names, at least one response agrees with me on that. However, they are all males, but why is that a surprise.

While it is true that the PCUSA and its predecessors found that there is a scriptural basis for the ordination of women, both as elders and as ministers of Word and Sacrement, it is hard for a biblically conservative woman minister to find a pulpit outside of a small to medium sized church.

A case in point, SWMBO, also known as the Pastor. Graduated from a conservative seminary, PTS in Pittsburgh. Born and raised in the PCUS as a child, affirms the Westminister Confession without quibble. That said, either did not get a response, or got a polite thank you, but after being listed as the required women's candidate.

There aren't that many women who are Senior Pastor's in any church over 1,000 members that I know of, if there are please enlighten me.

So the fact that .... the letter prompting this response was published by a group of white, male pastors of large churches, who were inviting the whole church to consider their concerns to quote from the Outlook, is nothing if not disingenuous, and a Red Herring to detract from what the White Paper actually says.

A response by the Stated Clerk, GAMC Exec Director, and the current Moderator of the GA is, according to Jack Haberer, In the process, they urge their fellow Presbyterians to pursue a course of unity, citing John Calvin’s resolve, “‘So far as I have it in my power, if I am thought to be of any service, I shall not be afraid to cross ten seas for this purpose, if that should be necessary.’”

But did Calvin really pursue Unity as the end all and be all, or was he pursuing to reform Christianity into what the Scriptures really said.

As you can probably tell, I can understand where these pastors stand. I fully support the ideas they espouse. I can also understand why there aren't other names there, pastors of smaller churches who do not have the security of a tall steeple. These pastors know full well that in some locales, to publicly say what the White Paper says could be a career breaker.

There is that kind of disunity and distrust in the PCUSA. Another blogger at Mountains and Magnolias talks about how the PCUSA has become almost episcopalian in scope, and that the tall steeple pastors are looking at congregationalism.

He has a point, but I don't believe the part about becoming congregational. That's already here with many large to small churches simply exiting the PCUSA in place. Yeah they're still listed, but they don't all pay per capita and many don't attend Presbytery meetings any longer. Why?? Its the same thing every year or so, we said NO once, why can't it stick !!

Is the new nFog, which appears to push unity as the main driving force and will if adopted will promote anything but; going to really ...engage elders and pastors in shaping a more responsive polity to paraphrase from the response letter?

Will the nFog be more responsive to those who see the PCUSA as heading down the road to biblical irrelevancy?

Does it give a voice to those who see that the current way we nominate representatives to GA does not allow for the diversity of opinion and theological views that should be the goal of GA?

You can probably quess the answer to all those questions, and more from the moderate/conservative side of the PCUSA. I think NOT!!

And so it goes ..... !!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

One more off the Bucket List

As I approach my sixth decade (good grief, did I actually write that), I've been realizing that there are things I wanted to do but never got around, or had the patience to do.

One of which was to get my Amateur (ham) Radio License. I was really into shortwave (SWR) radio listening when I was younger, even bought and built a Heathkit receiver for use when I was stationed in Greece to listen to the Voice of America, BBC and Radio Canada.

While stationed there, I helped run the local military MARS station at the detachment, which also allowed me to listen to Hams in the US and elsewhere try to get QSLs from stations all over the world.

My problem was that I could never get past the Morse Code requirements. I could never send or receive at the speed needed. So I resigned myself to be a passive listener.

I didn't keep up with the license requirements, so when someone said they had just gotten their Technician level license, I asked what was the Morse requirement. He said there was none !! Sure enough, I was qualified for the Tech license, at least an online test said I was. When I sat for the test, I passed with flying colors.

A friend of mine had given me a 2m/440mhz Kenwood mobile rig, so I ran some coax up through a hole in the ceiling of a closet, installed a 2m antenna in the attic, and promptly started talking to locals through a repeater. Of course, there is only so much you can talk about locally, and I was definitely not going to get QSL cards from them. So, now its on to get my General, and a HF rig. Slowly, but surely I'm putting the 'shack' together, but first I'll dig out my old SWR set, and see if it still works.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

After Christmas Blues .....

Its been snowing here in Cannoli, PA for the past week. Not heavy amounts, but enough that I need to head out at least once a day and clear the back door and walk. The good news is that that's the only area I have to do, the front of the manse is handled by the church.

My wife does the area from the manse to her office. The joke is, her office is on the other side of the connecting door to the church.

Anyway, I finally got the last of the outside decorations down after Epiphany, so all the lights are off the lawn, the wreath down from the front, and the lit electric candles out of the windows. It just looks drab at night now ...

I think it looked quite nice, of course some of the locals were scratching their head until the first candle was lit.

.... and so it goes !!