Saturday, August 26, 2006

An Addendum





"Seek, and you will find..."

When I wrote the previous blog, I wasn't able to find an article on the GA that I had distinctly remembered. With all the spin put on the PUP decision--i.e. "nothing has changed"--I knew that the original "take" by our officials was that sessions and presbyteries would have "greated leeway in applying...standards."

I used, in my last blog, one of Jerry Van Marter's earlier articles, written prior to GA, which used the above phrase. Wayne Hardy found the original that I was looking for (you can click below and read it for yourself):

PC(USA) - 217th General Assembly (2006): "By a vote of 298-221 (57% to 43%), the 217th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) today approved an 'authoritative interpretation' of the church's Constitution that maintains current ordination standards for church officers but gives ordaining bodies greater leeway in applying those standards to individual candidates for ordination." (emphasis added)

It is quite interesting that, between June 20th and the adjournment of GA, the official line had changed from "leeway..." to "nothing's changed."

I mention this again because of the Monday meeting of Presbytery, where Kirk members will hear the official line on this. Again, one must ask, "If nothing's changed, why must we even be more diligent in our ordination examinations?" Also, if nothing's changed, why will denominational leaders, when pressed, admit that some presbyteries and sessions will now feel free (and be freer) to ordain practicing GLBTs?

Tom

15 comments:

Matt Ferguson said...

"Nothing's changed" is a deceptive statement at best and those who would make such a statement are not following the way of God but the way of the enemy. We are to speak plainly the truth and not try to deceive. If nothing has changed then simply cancel the votes that are making folks upset---it wouldn't change anything if you did so who would really care. Now, if they would just admit that the vote changed things we could start a discussion. Of course, we would have to discuss how they could change something without it going to presbyteries for a vote and they wouldn't want to talk about that either.
I so wish the presbytery there had not kept applying more and more pressure. There may yet be some movement in all this that will keep churches, pastors, or just members from leaving. But by the presbytery's forcing of the issue I can understand why the Kirk took the action you did.
I will continue to keep you in my prayers.
God's blessings to you all,
Matt

Anonymous said...

Tom,

By now everyone who reads your blog is aware of the deep split in the PCUSA. There are definitely 2 sides with opposing viewpoints who cannot be reconciled. This has been going on for years and has been getting more and more intense.

The PCUSA officials could very easily end this deep divide. Those who, in good conscience, cannot compromise their Biblical prinicples could be allowed to vote, take their property, and leave to another reformed denomination. (It is my understanding that this is permissible.) This would be the gracious, Christian thing to do.

Unfortunately, I don't think this will happen because of the documents the PCUSA leaders issued on how to stamp out any opposition from churches who want to leave the denomination. And, of course, all that property spells $$$$ which are important to a denomination with decreasing members and contributions.

Pastors and congregations are being threatened and intimidated with pensions and property being taken away if they express their true feelings.

This really makes the PCUSA look loving and inviting to the world, doesn't it?

What did Jesus say about marriage? Matt. 19:4-5 "Haven't you read," he (Jesus)replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'?" (Jesus is quoting Gen. 2:24)

What did the apostle Paul say about same sex relationships?
Rom 1:25-27: "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." (NIV)

This harsh reaction by the PCUSA to those expressing opposition can only result in negatives for the denomination. Pastors and congregations may frightened into submission, but at what cost?

It took about 40 years for the PCUSA to drop from 4.6 million members to the current 2.3 members, and the average age of PCUSA members is close to 60. Anybody see a big problem here for the future?

Lead us, Lord, lead us in your righteousness, make Your way plain before our faces,
Peggy Alexander

Derek Simmons said...

Tom:
Thanks for the link. And thanks for being open to the Spirit's leading you away from the apostasy of the PCUSA.

We too have been treated to the "official" party line. Our Executive Presbyter preached--from where our pulpit would be if we had one--on GA217 and how "nothing's changed." My, my. All the fuss and all the time and all the money......and nothing's changed.

Anonymous said...

Tom,
You indicated that the Kirk is no longer a PCUSA church. Isn't that to be determined by the congregational meeting on August 30? Isn't the church technically still part of the denomination?

TomGray said...

Dear anonymous,
The elected leaders of the Kirk (elders and trustees) irrevocably voted to dissaffiliate with the PCUSA. We are, until we take further action, a congregational church, based upon presbyterian polity and reformed theology.
Tom

Anonymous said...

So what exactly is the purpose of the congregational meeting on the 30th if not to confirm the vote of the Session? It sounds like any vote from the congregation at this juncture is a moot point. Is that correct?

TomGray said...

anonymous (again),
Please read earlier posts and blogs. The purpose of the meeting is to affiliate with the EPC.
Tom

Anonymous said...

Tom,

You quoted the headline and gave a link to the article. Did you read it? I don’t think it substantiates your claim. When I read the article the first time, what I heard was an articulation of the "status quo". Nothing changed. That is still how I read it. That is also, I am thoroughly convinced, the most constructive way to read the text of the recommendations of the PUP report. If anything it calls ordaining bodies to be more observant and responsible to the ordination standards of the Book of Order, with the reminder that any decision is subject to review if it gets off track. I’d stick to that message, and enforce it.

This evil spirit that keeps repeating the lie that the PCUSA has done something nefarious, abandoned scripture, and its members have become something other than legitimate disciples of Jesus, wants us only to hurt each other and to hurt your congregation in particular. Why do you keep helping it? If I may be so bold, I think you should find someone you trust with the spiritual gift of discernment to walk you through this.

In any case you have made it not your problem anymore. Your focus now should be on helping your congregation get through this ungodly mess you have brought down on their heads. The reasons you made the decision you made carried weight only so long as you were still a member of the PCUSA.

Jodie

PS Whatever became of the message of renewal you wanted to emphasize? I am still waiting to hear it.

Anonymous said...

I am deeply offended by the fact that I, a 12 year member of Kirk of the Hills, was planning to come to a meeting and vote on Wednesday only to discover that my vote means SQUAT.

I think the PCUSA is out of line, but I think the Kirk's leaders are further out of line.. I planned to vote against leaving PCUSA on Wednesday. But I intended to STAY at the Kirk rather than take my toys and leave. However, I just discovered from this blog's creator that my vote means nothing.

WOW...my church is trying to convince me to voice my opinion and VOTE, but it is really a pointless display intended to make me feel better. My country can elect a president that doesn't get the most votes. And so on..... So where do I turn?.....

.....to another church as far away from the Presbyterian denomination as possible...

I pray that God will somehow bring the Kirk back to earth and off of that silly hill at 61st and Yale.

drmom said...

You voted for the members of session (or at least had the opportunity to vote for...if you bothered to come to the scheduled congregational meegings), so you definitely had say in the direction of the Kirk. They are the representative leadership within the Presbyterian church, the same as they always have been. There also have been other meetings regarding the current issues with the denomination and how the Kirk should respond where members voiced their opinions. The disaffiliation was not something that snuck up on the members of the the Kirk or the denomination.

Also, your vote on Wednesday is far from meaningless. We'll be deciding whether to affiliate with the EPC.

Anonymous said...

I am looking for a miracle this the 27th day of August 2006. There must be a way for God’s essence in Jesus Christ to infuse the Holy Spirit into this debate between the Kirk of the Hills and the Presbyterian Church, USA! I pray for that and implore all who are concerned in this matter to pray likewise.

I am 75 years of age, a Presbyterian since the age of 10 and a member of the Kirk of the Hills church for the past 30 years plus. Over the course of my life I have been a scout leader, deacon, elder, choir member, Sunday school teacher and senior high sponsor.

Over the years, the national office of Presbyterian Church, USA has done a great many things that either irritate or enrage people in the pews. The most contentious subjects inevitably deal with contrasting biblical interpretations or a very liberal interpretation of social gospel. Most of these bones of contention have been aptly debated but if you need a list of negatives all you have to do is subscribe to the Layman. If the staff members in Louisville really want to change our hearts and opinions, they should leave their ivory towers, come to the hinterland and get into open debate in the trenches. That would be so much better than promoting a controversial Overture that is never going to fly so long as the voting members at GA are awake. I really do believe that the Presbyterian Church would receive great benefit and growth if they would start listening more to local churches throughout the land rather than an isolated few cloistered in Louisville. The Presbyterian Church, USA has so much going far it and so much potential particularly in the areas of education and world mission. All that is needed is our collective recognition that God is in control and each one of us must submit to that control.

Regarding the Kirk of the Hills church I did not agree with the vilification of PCUSA that was systematically carried out by Kirk pastors and senior staff over the course of the past three to five year period and I did not agree with the Kirk’s endorsing the New Wineskin Initiative. Furthermore, I do believe the Kirk Session was completely out of order when they voted without notice to disaffiliate every individual member of the congregation from the PCUSA.

However, the Kirk is growing and vibrant - a tremendous short-term mission program, healthy local to worldwide mission budget, and excellent biblical education throughout all ages. The Kirk’s programs are successful and I firmly believe that breakup of the pastoral and administrative team by action of PCUSA would do nothing but damage the work in God’s Kingdom. Although the Kirk is not very Presbyterian, it is an excellent congregational church and should remain as such.

I am too much of a Presbyterian to stick with the Kirk, but many members are my friends and everyone will have my blessing when I depart. Shalom

William E. Diggs

cc: Greg Coulter, EOP

Anonymous said...

Bill Diggs:

You have written a couple of pieces on this blog that I have read (maybe you have written others as well). In both that I have read, your words match my own true feelings regarding this entire disaffiliation process that has been underway for quite some time.

My grandfather was a Presbyterian minister, so I was raised in the church and have been a Presbyterian all of my life and a member of the Kirk for over twenty years. I have served as a Deacon, a youth group leader, and have served on various committees over the years. Your closing paragraph above states my feelings precisely.

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. I will be voting along with you on Wednesday; unfortunately, our vote will not carry any meaning since the actions have already been done.

Rob Berry

TomGray said...

Dear Rob Berry,
I appreciate both your and Bill Digg's responses. Although I disagree, they've both been well worded and thought out. I know that there are wonderful people who disagree with what we've done.
I'll see you Wednesday night, but i have a question before then. Bill Diggs has been at the Kirk every Sunday for years. But I haven't seen or talked with you for many years. You have every right to vote, because you're on the list, but if you've moved on to another church, why come back to the Kirk just for a vote?
Tom

Anonymous said...

Tom:
I was at the Kirk a little over a month ago and spoke briefly with you after the service. As always, I enjoyed your sermon immensely.

My mother has been in declining Alzheimers and I have been spending more of my Sunday mornings with the family at another church as my sisters come in to visit quite frequently. Mom recently took a bad fall and is now in skilled nursing and is more than likely in her final weeks with us.

Situations beyond our human control often dictate our attendance.

Regards,
Rob

Anonymous said...

William Diggs is concerned about the Kirk being congregational. As a long-time Presbyterian, he wishes to remain Presbyterian. I feel the same about congregationalism vs. presbyterianism. However, this last GA has rearranged the landscape. With that one subtle vote on the PUP report, everything has changed. The PCUSA is now Presbyterian in name only. Every presbytery and every session will be allowed to apply their own versions of ordination standards. Until that GA action I was committed body and soul to staying and fighting for biblical standards, because I have felt called by God to be a Presbyterian. It is time to find a place that is truly Presbyterian, for the PCUSA is longer such.