Change Has Come

The Presbytery of Twin Cities became the vote to push the PCUSA's overture over the top. The Book of Order will now read,
Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G.14.0240; G-14.0450) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.
A couple of obvious changes for my former denomination will be:
  •  Self-avowed practicing homosexual persons will now be openly and proudly ordained in congregations and presbyteries. 
  • In other presbyteries the same people won't get a hearing and their will be remedial cases headed off to the regional Permanent Judicial Commissions etc.
  • Evangelical congregations and groups will publish letters, articles and the like and seek separate Synods, calls for repentance and hold gatherings to rally the troops
Yet the subtler changes will often be ignored, downplayed or not spoken about. For those who do not agree with such ordinations still must vow to  "be governed by our church's a friend among your colleagues in ministry..." Such pastors, elders and deacons could come before their Presbytery and/or Session and declare a scruple about their vow but I don't see that happening. Instead, those who disagree will continue on and probably throw themselves into the ministry they see as valid, all the while, ignoring the larger issue for the denomination.
Although NOT in the BOO, a common understanding about ordination is expressed in Leslie Scanlon's article dated March 21, 2011, "that in the PC(USA) ordination is done on behalf of the whole church". If this is true then each and every congregation and session has a role in the ordination of each and every pastor and officers. If not true, then they're almost Baptists.
I'm going to come off sounding unloving but the deciding factor for most conservative congregations within the PCUSA is money not theology.  If it costs too much to leave they will stay and complain or shut up and do their own thing. Many  have done this since Angela Davis was an issue [It is in the Wikipedia article]. Oh, there will be some who bite the bullet, pay off Presbytery or walk away from their buildings and campuses but they will be the minority.
So, to my sisters and brothers who are in the PCUSA, I am praying for you, for your congregations and your next steps. God be with you.




  1. Hi Alan,

    First, thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog ( I enjoy such conversations and I think that they are the strength of the blogging community.

    Second, as per your blog entry, I do think that since we have historically taken the issue of connectionalism (i.e. ordaining on behalf of the whole church) so seriously, this new polity becomes significantly problematic. How can distinctly different standards of qualification for ordination be reconciled with our ordaining on behalf of the whole church? It seems to me that we are left in a bit of a quandry as to whether or not we can continue in that "common understanding." Having shared standards allowed for that common understanding and I would argue that 10-A and the loss of the previous AI's has been the move toward a baptist polity, not the rejection of the connectionalism (which now no longer exists by virtue of this new polity). Your thoughts?


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