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 ..... !!


  1. I think NOT, too.

    Your observations about women pastors and the stained glass ceiling in our denomination are spot on, too. I'm sorry to see the response focusing on who the authors are rather than what the paper says.

    On the other hand, the paper proposes vague, general goals which are hard to address at this point. I think this is still very much a movement in start-up mode and await further developments.

  2. I know what you mean. I have a good idea that these goals will be firmed up by the time they get ready to have that meeting in Minneapolis in August.

  3. From the perspective of a small church. We are so busy fighting over unity that the small church gets no help. the true tragity is that the conservative rural churches are getting thrown under the bus in the name of inclusiveness


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