Its been a little over two years since I posted my last, and since that time a lot has happened.
1. The Remedial Case talked about in my blogpost of 09/12/2014 was thrown out as being 'moot', again the PJC did what the ACC did and totally avoided the fact that the AI as passed should have been ruled out of order as it violated a bunch of normal parliamentary rules. However, the final reasoning was that at the time the case was heard, more than enough presbyteries had voted the Amendment that authorized SSM, so the case was ruled moot. Nevermind the parliamentary issues that the case was really about, those on the PJC 'knew" (wink wink) what it was really about - SSM. Even though the main actor in the case was on the pro-SSM side, he knew that the parliamentary rule violation was a slippery slope. Didn't matter to the PJC.
2. Upon returning home after the 2014 GA, I didn't want to even talk about my experience. However, the EP of 'Crimson-Rock Presbytery' asked that I talk at the next Presbytery meeting, and visit some of the churches to give my overview of the GA. Suffice it to say that there were some 'stony' looking faces at Presbytery, and at some of the churches I was called 'bigot' and 'homophobe' for having a Biblical view of sexuality.
3. The Session of the church where I'm a member asked a lot of questions about my experiences at the GA, and after many months of prayer and study, voted to enter the Crimson-Rock Presbytery's Dismissal Process which would allow the congregation to leave and join EPC.
4. The entry into the process started around October 2014. The Session met with the Presbytery's team a number of times, and the team also had a congregational discussion one Sunday after Worship. The questions from the Congregation were really good, and to the point. One question in particular nailed the issue: " I teach our kids about the truth of the Bible, yet the PCUSA is saying that the Bible is wrong. Why should I stay?". The member of the team who was asked that question had no convincing answer, and many of the Congregation understood that.
In February 2015 we had our Congregational vote, and of our members present, the vote was 74 to leave, 0 to stay. At the next Presbytery meeting in May, we were dismissed (after paying a ransom), and was accepted into the EPC as a transistional member of the "Presbytery of the Eastern Mountains."
5. The Pastor and Session then studied for a good year the EPC Book of Order, as well as the Westminster Confession of Faith and catechisms, in preparation for the examination of the Session by the Presbytery. The members of the presbytery committee were very impressed by the training and knowledge of the Session, who said it was all due to the detailed preparation by the Pastor.
The Pastor was examined at the May 2015 Presbytery meeting, and having met all the requirements the Congregation was accepted into full membership of the EPC, which then allowed us to attend the 2016 General Assembly of the EPC as voting members. One of the hallmarks of the EPC is that every church has the right to send three people to the General Assembly. One Teaching Elder (TE) and two Ruling Elders (RE). This two to one ratio is a requirement for every 'council' of the denomination, as the number of REs must always exceed the number of TEs.
6. I attended the GA as an observer and was instantly impressed by the lack of politics and politicking at the Assembly. Everything opened with prayer, and there was a prayer team praying over the GA the entire time.
As the EPC has a list of Essentials that all must adhere to, there was no need to try and discern if what the person was saying was a veneer hiding an agenda underneath. However, habits learned in the previous denomination are hard to drop, so some who came from the PCUSA were confused when confronted with the fact that what the person said was what they REALLY meant.
It was a breath of fresh air. I think I remarked on my notes on the 2014 PCUSA General Assembly that there was, to me at least, an overall feeling of dread or malice when I walked into that convention center in Detroit. There was NO such feeling at the EPC GA. It felt like the Spirit was flowing throughout the halls of the hosting church.
We had come home! Which means I will probably change the name of the blog to A Reformed Catholic formerly in the PCUSA.
... and so it goes!!