Jack Haberer wrote an interesting piece on the PC(USA)'s ongoing vote. In the interest of full disclosure, I no longer have a dog in this fight, but if I were still part of the PC(USA) I'd push to change the wording and here's why?
1. It would stop the fighting. The liberals would have finally won and the denomination would have a pretty clear picture in what direction lies its future.
2. It would stop the spin cycle from the right. There will be NO constitutional reason to deny ordination to practicing gay and lesbians, Buddhists or anyone else.
3. Many congregations will face the hard choice which they have not wanted to face before. Leave or stay and be less than they were called to be.
4. Some "tall steeple" pastors will have to decide if they are willing to spend the energy, time and theological work to lead their congregations into a new place or to wait out their years till retirement.
Here is what I pray happens in the PC(USA). First, as the amendment passes that several more people are ordained who are currently out of compliance with our standards. I had a conversation with a pastor who said, "Well they haven't ordained any SAPH yet" to which I pointed them toward Ms. Morrison in Redwoods Presbytery as a prime example. This pastor's next comment was telling, "Well they haven't ordained anyone here." So much for connectionalism.
Second, that the pastors of larger congregations within the PC(USA) are questioned by their Sessions and members about the issues. Time has come to stop insulating people, in the name of "doing God's work". I did that for more than a few years because it was easier than dealing with the issues. Had I been upfront with my leadership we'd been ready to leave sooner, been better leaders and, I believe, more faithful to God's calling for our congregation.
Third, those who do not want to be part of this new way will cease to support the denomination and exit. The elephant in the room is money and legitimacy. If every conservative congregation within the denomination simply wrote a letter and said, we're not paying our percapita or any other money to any and all denominational projects, no matter HOW good that would get their attention. Congregations could form alternative presbyteries, not unlike the "Confessing Church" in Germany during World War 2 Like-minded pastor and elders would meet to conduct the business of the church. Without any approval or oversight from existing presbyteries they would take it upon themselves to ordain and install pastors in congregations that are among the. Such actions could create quite a stir in a presbytery if not a lynch mob.
Each congregation has to discern where the Holy Spirit is leading them. Just don't confuse His calling with the desire to remain comfortable and safe. Don't be afraid to spend the energy, time, money and integrity it will take to follow God.
Last week I saw a guy wearing a shirt on which was printed part of Joshuah 1. It grabbed my attention because Rev. Ron McHattie used that passage for my charge during my ordination in 1980. Let me remind us of the command of God, "Be strong and courageous".
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