Here was a group of people who spoke the same language; shared the same values and walked the walk of following Christ. We were in a group in which we didn’t have to wonder what someone meant when they used language. We were in a place where the word Father could be used to refer to God without rolled eyes and gasps about being insensitive. We were sisters and brothers who understood that our actions were going to be church-shattering.
What happens from here? That’s the question each congregation will have to ask themselves. It’s not enough that a pastor would like to affiliate with the EPC. It isn’t enough that a session is tired of the “stuff” out of Louisville and would like to be in a place where they own their building and aren’t embarrassed to be Presbyterian. God must lead each pastor, session, and congregation if this is to remain a God thing. And that is a scary prospect for some.
Here are few observation and lessons that I gleaned and which I imagine other congregations are having to think through as well.
- If we don’t want to be missional let’s just forget it and stay where we are. We can die in the PCUSA just as quickly as in the EPC.
I, for one, don’t want to change from one outmoded, anachronistic bureaucracy for another outmoded, anachronistic bureaucracy. Each follower of Jesus who decides to take this step will have to be committed to doing the work of Jesus in the world around them.
- The guiding principle when it comes to the property and assets are to behave as Jesus would.
That means we will be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. We can’t afford a $50,000 court battle but if God sees fit to remove the property from us so be it.
- Some people won’t leave.
It may be they can’t worship apart from the building. There may be too many memories contained in that place. A few will see nothing wrong with the direction of the congregation. Others may just want to come to church for an hour on Sunday, go home and call it good.
- God is good.
We know that God will bless where he leads. If it is to faithfully stay and fight for the purification of the PCUSA as the puritans did in England so be it. If it is to set off for a land that God will have to show, like our separatist pilgrim ancestors, so be it.
A last thought in this overly long post. It seems good to keep Dr. Sameh’s reminder from Acts in mind. "Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4:30)Peace