Saturday, June 17, 2006
The Debates Begin
The Ecclesiology Committee at Work
Saturday was packed with committee business and the beginnings of actual decisions from committees. Remember, though, that what a committee does can be undone at the plenary sessions of GA next week and vice versa.
Committee people at their small-group tables
I spent my whole day with the Ecclesiology committee again, listening to debate within the committee over the PUP report and some of the overtures related to it. My immediate reaction is that the committee is operating on sentiment, rather than critical thinking. Following are some of the comments made during the debate. Almost all the focus was on proposal #5, which is commonly called the “local option” where local sessions and presbyteries would be freed to determine which of our “essentials” are essential.
• “What we need to do differently is have some trust in each other. We need to come together in conversation and look to each other in love.”
• “What we’ve done for 30 years hasn’t worked, this is at least an effort to do something.
• We have to trust our sessions and presbyteries. This is what we’ve always done. The examples [those opposing PUP] have given are extreme.”
• “The gates of hell will not prevail against the church. Let’s trust each other. Let’s come together and stop fighting…and put it in God’s hands.”
• “PUP is a way in which the church can live more faithfully in disagreement. The task forces report has given her greater hope than ever. Their coming together in a unanimous decision is nothing short of a miracle. The moderatorial candidates were all negative people. We need to get beyond that.”
• “If we take proposal #5 away we won’t give people a chance to have God’s love. Also, we are not to judge; only God is the judge. We can’t decide who can or can’t do God’s work.
• “I hope that the GA will trust this committee’s decision and that the denomination will trust the GA’s decision. It doesn’t matter if we agree, but do we love one another and will agree to stay together. I trust them, even if they hold to different essentials. The presbyteries have the right to decide what they want.”
There were, thankfully, some people who looked to Scripture for guidance.
• “I’ve heard a lot about the Book of Order and the PUP, but very little about the Bible. The Bible is way more important than these others.”
• “My presbytery has voted twice not to ordain a homosexual because it is not Biblical.”
A vote was taken on a motion to completely remove proposal #5 from the report. The VOTE: will we strike number 5? yes 23, no 37. This may be a portent of things to come.