Thursday, August 31, 2006

The PCUSA Hasn't Forgotten Us

Now that the congregational meeting is behind us, what still lingers regarding our old denominational membership?

First is the property issue. This is being taken care of by other people, although I maintain an active interest in the subject. We are in contact with other congregations that are just behind us in this process and may be able to work together on some of the property issues. While I would never actively “recruit” other churches to leave, I desire to be of some service to those who make this difficult decision on their own.

Second is the denomination’s continuing action toward us. We are currently an independent, congregational church, but the PCUSA maintains an interest in attracting dissatisfied Kirk members away from us. They are still requesting that we give them an updated membership list so that they can “let members know how to transfer to other PCUSA churches if they desire.” This is an easy process, and we will let people know how to do this without the help of the presbytery. We would hope that Kirk members who disagree with our decision would choose to stay. We want them here. But we will not harass them, nor will we fail to respect their individual decisions.

Third is whatever future actions the presbytery may plan at a special meeting called for next Tuesday. The sole purpose of this meeting is to discuss Kirk of the Hills. I would guess that they will declare the 36 people who voted against our disaffiliation to be the “true church.” They will also have to declare an administrative commission to investigate further into this whole situation, perhaps officially “removing” our session as regards those 36 people. Since Wayne Hardy and I renounced jurisdiction, there are no actions they need to make regarding us. But they will certainly assign a pastor for the “true church.” They will just as certainly want to take aggressive action to take our property.

I expect that there will be significant anger toward Wayne and me and our session. There may be some sadness. We did not go through the “system,” and this will be deeply disturbing to many. Anything beyond this would be pure speculation on my part. It will be interesting, though, to see what is decided.

Keep praying—keep the faith,
Tom

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I have looked rather closely at the EPC website, and it is clear to me that they practice a wide-ranging and institutionally accepted form of local option. I don't know how you can match that with your continual deriding of what you wrongly interpret as local option in the PCUSA. If you are so opposed to that practice, why, pray tell, are you going to a denomination that practices it? If anyone needed further proof that this amounts to mean-spirited homophobia, plain and simple, this is it.

Anonymous said...

Had you all gone through "the system" which in and of itself it is a joke, they would have dragged the congregation down and split it 7 ways to sunday. With these people it is all about the power and now the money, since the people they support hardly tithe but expect you to support their marlarky with your tithes. You did the right thing, believe me.

Anonymous said...

"We are currently an independent, congregational church.." How could those words come out of the mouth of a real Presbyterian minister? I have kept track of the churches like yours that are leaving the PC(USA) and a majority of them have pastors who come from outside the denomination. I do not know your background so I may be out of line here, but it seems hard for me to believe you have been a Presbyterian for 27 years. I wonder if you will be a committedCongregationalist when it comes time to draw your pension.

Anonymous said...

Looking closely at the EPC website I noticed the affirmation of the believe in the authority of scripture. I particularly liked what the EPC has to say about the essentials. Similar to, "In the essentials unity...in the nonessentials liberty...and everything else charity"

Which is more mean-spirited, holding fast to scripture before your fellow sinner or telling him his sin is not a sin knowing the consequences? I pray the Holy Spirit will use our comments to edify each of use and show us where our wounds are located instead of causing further injury.

Jim Loughlin said...

To Anonymous (8/31 11:49 AM)-

1. Apparently you missed a few things on the EPC web site(http://www.epc.org). Go back and read a little deeper
2. There is local option on the non-essentials, but no option on the essentials. You can read up on the differences. They are pretty clear.
3. The EPC has postion papers on a number of issues. Those are pretty clear.
4. In the EPC the essentials are specifically stated and followed. The local options are on those items which do not conflict with the essentials (e.g. immersion, sprinkling, etc.)
5. The EPC appears to follow its rules instead of ignoring those who flout the rules because they are "progressive".

I hope that by more completely researching the issue, your questions will be answered.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Tom, for acknowledging (in your response to my comment on your previous posting) that you could be completely wrong about the Cumberland Presbyterian Church reuniting with the PC(USA), and for taking full responsibility if you are. That's my whole point. If you had the perception that they had reunited, and spoke your perception as fact to a large number of people who believed you were telling the truth, then how many other occurences of misperception have we witnessed?

One that comes to mind immediately is the perception that the presbytery deliberately filed a lien against the Kirk's property, when the truth is that the property belonging to one little congregation in southeast Oklahoma (holding it in trust for the whole denomination) was accidently sold by family of one of their members without even the knowledge of the congregation, much less a vote. Two other small congregations had similar problems, and the presbytery trustees are helping them reclaim their title. The trustees even thought about not filing the affidavits in Tulsa County so you would not misunderstand. But they decided to be fair and even-handed, and not single out the little congregations.

Another misperception is that the presbytery would have removed you and Wayne. That is fear speaking, not fact.

It is incredibly important for leaders in every church to check out the facts before they speak, and not present perception as truth. Much of the current anguish could have been avoided had you checked with reliable sources first.

Anonymous said...

The EPC allows deviation on what local judicatories determine to be non-essential, subject to appeal to higher judicatories. There's not a gnat's eyelash of difference between what they say and what the PCUSA did at its last assembly. The original motto "in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; in all things, charlity" is actually a widely-used motto in the mainline churches, most recently by the UCC as they moved in a rather progressive direction regarding homosexuality. It remains true today, as it has always been, that the church is quick to point to things as non-essential when the majority of members are not affected by it, but will be more than happy to get the speck out of their homosexual brother's eye because, well, they are easy targets, and in the minority. Same as in the civil rights days, now just a different target group. And, same as in the civil rights days, the day is surely coming when churches like the EPC, and Kirk of the Hills, will stand and apologize for their shortsightedness.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous

Incredible that someone has it done right. Thank you, thank you, thank you for pointing out that fear has driven the majority of things said on this blog.

Anonymous said...

It is sad to see that we can be so easily distracted from our calling to love God and to love our neighbors. As members of the body of Christ, please be aware that your hurtful and hateful actions effect more brothers and sisters than you will ever know. I pray that in your brokenness Christ will heal.

Dave Moody said...

Anonymous posters probably ought not throw around the 'you're doing this out of fear' mantra too much. It smells a bit disingenuous.

It seems one may be able to accuse the Kirk and its leadership of many things, fear though seems a bit of a stretch. Unless one means a Fear of the Lord. Then, well- may their tribe increase, in spades.

Regardless of whether one agrees or not with the decisions- everything has been done in the light, in cyberspace, open to criticism and praise alike.


grace & peace,
Dave Moody,
Pastor, Trinity Pres.
Sparta, IL

Stushie said...

As I wrote to you in the last blog posting, Tom. If you go to court saying that you disassociated from the PCUSA due to its stance on sexuality, yet you still continue to blog with blogger, you are going to lose your property case because it will be proved that your stance is selective and not total. Talk to your Session about this and get them to have a straw poll.

I choose to stay with blogger because I have not disassociated from the PCUSA on grounds of sexuality. I do not understand how you can come out of the church and not this blogger site.

Classical Presbyterian said...

Tom:

I would advise...in all of my blogging wisdom :)..that you stop allowing the anonymous comments.

They hurt more than they help. The hostile comments anonymously posted here are done by cowards.

Be man enough (or woman!) to post your name and stand by your thoughts or please go elsewhere!

Blogging is not for wimps, folks!

As my grandma always taught, "If you can't sign your name to it, don't say it!"

Anonymous said...

It is still unclear to me how people reading this blog get the idea that the Kirk is assaulting homosexuals and acting in fear. The Kirk does not apologize for it's strict interpretation of scripture. This includes the Biblical teachings on sexuality, that it is only apporpriate within heterosexual marriage to one spouse. If other churches wish to deviate from traditional scriptural teaching that is their right in a country that protects speech and religion. But why should the Kirk apologize for adhering to the tenents of their religion instead of changing due to social pressure to conform? I have not seen them fail to renounce greed, heterosexual lust, or any other more common sin, I have only seen them state their belief that scripture is an important basis of Christian faith and it should not be ignored or explained away to satisfy a social view. How is this related to the civil rights struggles of various ethnic groups? Jesus is clear that Christians are to serve, not be served. The gospel is clearly opposed to slavery and oppression. Where does the gospel endorse sexual freedom or the idea that you may do as you wish if it hurts no one else? There are many scriptural warnings about ignoring one's own sin and pointing to another's, but I don't see the Kirk doing that. Please do not forget the cases of Aaron, several of the churches Paul wrote to, or Pilate and what scripture teaches about the consequences for those who fail to denounce sin. Remember, Jesus witnessed to the tax collecters, but he also chased them out of the temple, he didn't say "do as you see fit." The Kirk has denounced sin, they have not said they are free from sin. Why does this make them seem hurtful to people? Are we not a place where free thought and free speech are valued? Agree or disagree with their theology, the Kirk has made a couragous stand. It would be much easier (and cheaper) to go along with what the denomination says instead of standing for scripture even when few around them are willing to do so. All may feel free to disagree, but do not mistake their actions for cowardice.

Peace

Anonymous said...

To the various anonymouses, as appropriate:

There is nothing hateful or deliberately hurtful in what we at the Kirk did. The PCUSA has strayed so far from Biblical authority that I cannot be part of it. Regardless of what the Book of Order says, its actions show this. When asked, the stated clerk of the PCUSA said that there are no essential tenets that he could enforce.

The EPC, on the other hand, has 7 essential tenets to which all leaders (pastors, elders, deacons) must hold. Each leader affirms them on ordination, and is asked (maybe required?) to inform the appropriate church body if they change their mind. Beyond these essential tenets there are non-essential tenets; only these are open to interpretation. There is a vast gulf of difference here.

Christ's call is to love all, as all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. However, He also said "go and sin no more." On the other hand, the PCUSA has said "go and redefine sin as not sin if you want." Only Christ can define what is sin and what is not, and he has, in the Bible. I will, I MUST, follow Him.

It is not hate to call sin sin, it is grace. Any and all sinners are welcome in the church. However, our leaders must renounce sin in all forms, not actively and deliberately engage in sin. Any sin. PCUSA does not enforce this.

Your in Christ,
Bill Underwood

Anonymous said...

"I expect that there will be significant anger toward Wayne and me and our session. There may be some sadness."

I'm quite sure there will be anger. The only sadness there, though, will be on the part of the non-PCUSA entrenched leadership variety. The only tears coming from THEM will be of the crocodile variety.

"I have to say, I have looked rather closely at the EPC website, and it is clear to me that they practice a wide-ranging and institutionally accepted form of local option."

Thank you to another SEMINAR POSTER

The "local option" of the EPC is NOTHING like the "local option" of the PCUSA, and if you'd cared to delve into the details, or to portray them accurately (instead of boosting your argument based on lies), they were right there for you to read on their website. Of course, we know your tactics - so why not try something new . . . arguing your side by using THE FULL AND HONEST TRUTH! Anyway . . .

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church is just that: Evangelical and Presbyterian. According to good ol' Merriam Webster, evangelical essentially means:

"emphasizing salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ through personal conversion, the authority of Scripture, and the importance of preaching as contrasted with ritual"

and presbyterian means:

"characterized by a graded system of representative ecclesiastical bodies (as presbyteries) exercising legislative and judicial powers"

The Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, in my eyes, has become just that. Merely presbyterian. Emphasizing and even worshipping a form of ecclesiastical government, and throwing in a mishmash of other things as they feel like it, because these things make the leaders feel good about themselves, make them look good in front of their friends, etc., etc., etc.

The "local option" exercised by the EPC is tempered by their evangelical beliefs. Beliefs that the majority of the denominational leadership of the PCUSA no longer holds.

The EPC has various "position papers" posted on their website, delineating their various positions (go to http://www.epc.org, click on "about EPC" in the column on the left, then click on "position papers" also in the column on the left). The PCUSA makes you dig, and dig, and dig to find any of their positions on anything. And sometimes after all that diging you still can't find them, or even figure them out when you have.

Why is the PCUSA so reluctant to have you find their positions, while the EPC is so open? I think it's pretty obvious. The PCUSA's position on almost every issue, religious, contemporary moral, and other, is incredibly distasteful to almost every orthodox Christian. In fact, so many of them intentionally misconstrue or actually violate the teachings of scripture, it's absolutely staggering to try to fathom that so-called "religious leaders" could perpetuate such misinformation campaigns. But they do, probably without a second thought.

How does this affect "local option"? Well, PCUSA lets congregations run wild, unless they do anything that gets noticed which makes it look like the PCUSA endorses orthodoxy. Then the guillotine drops, and there is major bloodshed.

Also, the PCUSA is drowning in minutae. The smallest little thing warrants this conference, and that conference. It's all blown WAY out of proportion, because they think that somewhere in the Bible (they must have missed that day) God MUST have said that life should be fair. So every time they find out that it's not for someone or something (like the red-eared, purple-footed, green-eyed dung-worm), they have some massive conference, wasting more time, money, energy, and patience.

In the EPC, on the other hand, congregation join knowing where things stand. They don't argue about it, because they came in with their eyes wide open. If they want to argue about "the essentials", there's the door. There are other denominations that will have them, or they can create their own.

With things that are "non-essential" (like discussions about that lovely worm), if they want to have a conference, fine. If they don't, that's fine too.

But issues like abortion, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, etc., and any extension therefrom are already settled. It's done. Finito. The idea is not to waste time on it, ESPECIALLY at a national level.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe the stuff that I have been reading today, If anyone believes that the presbytery did no cloud the title to stop what they knew was coming at the behest of the PCUSA, is either hostile to the Kirk,or totally out of touch.
And to equate the gay issue to the 1960's civil right movement is marlarky and resented by those who were denied the right to vote, go to diners etc. I know many gays who share my view on this.

As far as the EPC being close to the PCUSA, then someboby has no clue what is going on and probably better off some where else. The entire financial situation at the PCUSA national is in BIG TROUBLE. And the way they are losing members it is a wonder they have held up as well as they have had.

They are more worried about losing property than losing members should be a very good indication of what you dealing with here. Ask D. James Kennedy when he left the then PCUS,what happened when they called him to tell them that the church was the presbytery property, he told them he wish they would take it because it had a 6 million dollar mortgage on it, he laughs that he never heard back from them again.

DO KID YOUSELVES IT IS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY AND POWER FROM A DYING CHURCH GASPING FOR WHATEVER THEY CAN GET TO GO DOWN WITH THEM.

Sam Sibala said...

It is amazing to me the number of comments from anonymous people that are negative and not edifying to the body. Let's focus on good in a situation instead of tearing each other down. In All Things, Give Praise and Glory to God. Trials and tribulations that we all face on earth. Growing in Christ's character is what God wants anyway, not our comfort. These are difficult times. Rely on the Holy Spirit to temper your words, guide your thoughts not your flesh.

Regarding the person that wants credible sources to dialogue with, why is it that don't even share your name and dialogue openly to check out the position that you a stating. How credible a source are you, if I can't check out your story? I consider Dr. Miller credible.

Regarding the person that is hurt by our actions, identify yourself so we can pray together regarding your hurt.

I asked Mark Smith of New Jersey to clarify his position and he responded to help me understand his viewpoint, which he graciously did.

I asked Dr. Miller some direct questions regarding his role in the Eastern Presbetry. I gave him my cell phone and he called me with his viewpoint and perspective
which I certainly appreciated.

Mark and Dr. Miller are stand-up Christian brothers because they had the guts to indentify themselves and dialogue with the rest of this blog community and sincerely and graciously made their concerns clarified. We all maintained our viewpoints but I certainly gained a greater appreciation for their character and their walk with Christ.

I have no respect for brothers and sisters of the faith to take potshots at our Pastor, Session or Congregation and keep their indentity secret. Accountability is the issue at hand. If I am wrong, I would like to be corrected by Christ-Centered brothers and sisters. I realize that Jesus is holding me accountable for the words I share.

If you are technically challenged it is real simple in choosing an indentity:

1. Select Other
2. Type your Name In

If you the anonymous bloggers have something to say in a public forum at least the guts to identify yourself. Let the public know that you are believer in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Stand UP and be counted.

Or a you going to be a Peter and denying Christ 3 times?

Please call me at (918)269-8491 if
you would like to discuss my comments further.

Sam Sibala

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous from Aug 31, 1:20 p.m.,

You said, "One [misperception] that comes to mind immediately is the perception that the presbytery deliberately filed a lien against the Kirk's property, when the truth is that the property belonging to one little congregation in southeast Oklahoma (holding it in trust for the whole denomination) was accidently sold by family of one of their members without even the knowledge of the congregation, much less a vote."

Save your breath. I brought up the same point on Aug. 23 (with far less detail) in response to Tom's "Incredible Double Standard" entry, and he responded with the same "secret property takeover" spin he's been hyping on this blog for the last two weeks.

Tom apparently has decided he will not listen to people he disagrees with, even when they tell the truth. He'll post their responses to his blog, but he doesn't seem to listen to them. At least, that's what it looks like when you read his responses. It looks like he made up his mind a long time ago, and the way he comes across on this blog, he's not likely to change it even if he was handed the truth on a silver platter by Christ himself.

Notice, fair people of the Kirk, I said, "apparently", "seem to", "that's what it looks like" and "the way he comes across on this blog". Please don't feel the need to shower your pastor with multiple affirmations after some "hateful anonymous person" makes observations. Some of us on this blog don't get to experience Tom in person every day, or hear him in the pulpit regularly like you do. We have to go off of what he writes here. And on this blog he puts words in other peoples' mouthes so he can discredit them. Someone called it a red herring approach, but I'd call it the straw man fallacy: Tom builds up a false argument so he can easily knock it down.

I'll hand it to Tom about one thing: at least he posts most of the responses to his blog, whether or not they favor him. But then again, he quickly shoots down the ones he doesn't care for, even when their logic and biblical insights are air tight.

Chock it up to being human. We all have our faults.

-one of those "wimpy" anonymous people

P.S. By the way, if you (Tom and company) are going to shoot down people for posting anonymously, why don't you start with all those Kirk folk who anonymously rail against liberal responses? Oh yeah... you agree with them.

TomGray said...

To anonymous (and I know that this covers a wide field of responders,

Before you condemn me for allowing anonymous Kirk posters, let me remind you that I am also allowing all the rest of you to post.

As to not agreeing with all of you, well, that's utterly impossible. There are too many opinions to count here. I feel that some of you get hostile because your posts don't change my mind.

I'm not putting words in anyone else's mouth. So far as I can, I quote people. Sometimes I state what I feel is going on. The issue of the affidavit will never be clear. In the poisoned atmosphere that the PCUSA legal plan set out, suspicion was natural. The actions of our presbytery clearly seem to be in line with that paper. I am only describing what we felt in this process and why we did what we did.

I don't think that I'm "shooting down" other people. I'm just honestly responding with what I think, even as the poster are.
Tom

Anonymous said...

To all those anonymous liberals out there or any liberal. Someone please answer me this question. What on earth do you have to gain if the Kirk were to stay in the denomination?

We clearly have different beliefs than those of you. We are going to agree to disagree. If you truly are fellow believers, why not let the Kirk leave to conduct our ministry and you can go about your business too. Instead, several of you have called us homophobic and other sweet terms.

In my humble opinion, slander Dr. Gray and essence since he is in complete agreement, Dr. Hardy. I am pretty confident a vast majority of you have never met or even spoken to either man, but you seem to be an expert in interpretting their words on this blog. Hmmmm.

While I sign my post anonymous I feel it is not wise to post my name given my position at the kirk. I can tell you I have know Dr. Gray some 23-24 years so I feel I have a pretty good insight as to what kind of character he has. And believe me when I tell you he is a far greater Christian than you or I could ever hope to be. I am not saying this to support him. Just my sincere opinion. Same for Dr. Hardy too.

The other thing, liberals routinely claim to be all about "love" and "open minds". With the rare exception in these blogs, have I not seen any kind of love toward your Christian brother on the conservative side.

So tell me all you liberal Christian brothern, what is your agenda for the Kirk especially since I am betting a VAST majority of you posting live outside of Oklahoma. What do you have to lose from our leaving? My agenda is to promote the Kirk's ministry for the Lord. I am anxiously awaiting a Christian response.

P.W.

Pamela Cook said...

Pastor Tom,

I had the joy of coming to the vote last night. Since I'm not a member of The Kirk I was in the fellowship hall. I saw you come back there on your way to the main sanctuary. You seemed to have peace on your face.

As I was coming in I needed help to find the fellowship hall since I had never been inside the building before. I had the joy of meeting one of your members Kenna Tate. She posted a reply to The Meeting blog entry mentioning this.

I was grateful that the percentage that agreed was so high. I was frankly shocked. You rarely have that high of a percentage agreeing on anything for any reason:)

I have been saddened to see the rancor that this decision has caused. I grew up in a denomination and promptly left when I came here to Tulsa as an ORU freshman. I left because of things that I saw in the national and local leadership that did not line up with the word. I have been a part of a handful of independent churches ever since (almost 30 years now).

This is the first time that I have had a chance to observe the denominational process somewhat up close as a non-member. I do not say this as a slam to the decision made but I must say that seeing all the divisiveness just because of a choice made out of conviction has pretty much helped me decide to never be a part of another denomination. At some point ordained leaders may feel that they must leave a group out of conscience. They should not go through hell to do it, especially when the Bible is clear about the debated issues. Hopefully the EPC will be a much better fit for your congregation.

I'm also saddened at the fact that many, including the media, are downplaying what you have clearly stated about why you left. The issue from what I have read is that you were concerned about getting away from the authority of the Bible. When things are reported on this the issue emphasized is the issue of ordaining people that love others of the same sex, which is regrettable. I have rarely read or heard you mention that issue at all. I guess people hear what they want to.

When it comes down to it every born-again Christian AND unbelievers alike will meet Christ when they die. No one else will be presenting them to the Lord. No presbytery, elder, priest, posters on blogs, etc. will be there to vouch for them. Every person will face the Lord and answer for how they lived on this earth.

I hope that you are sleeping better these days. There will be hard days ahead but at least you know that the vast majority of your congregation are with you. I pray that those that did not agree with the decision will understand why the decision was made or if not that all parties can be civil and still love each other as followers of Christ.

I know for me unless the Lord says that I must I will never join a church that is affiliated with a denomination. There is too much ungodly drama for me. I have known many believers from many different denominations. ALL of them have some type of unnecessary drama caused usually by deviating from the word of God somewhere.

May the Lord be with you and your congregation. I will continue to pray for you.

Anonymous said...

Wow are we full of ourselves and absolutely judgmental as if you know what the EOP will do at the called meeting. This probably won't make the post. I think psychiatric care might be needed.

Anonymous said...

Hail Hail the Gang's all here!! All you have to do is read!

Shawn

Anonymous said...

"Wow are we full of ourselves and absolutely judgmental as if you know what the EOP will do at the called meeting. This probably won't make the post. I think psychiatric care might be needed.


Now is this above post really needed. You make a rude comment and dont add anything useful for discussion. Further proof of the left's love I guess.

P.W.

Dick Leader said...

Faithful Tom, Wayne, and members of our Session. You folks are now taking entirely too many unmerited criticisms and downright insults. (It almost sppears to be an outside conspiracy.)

For now perhaps it is time to take heed of the insightful words of Titus3:9-11. That is "But avoid foolish controversies, geneologies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."

Could it be that the time has now come to continue to send the readers of your carefully, prayerfully prepared messages but confine them to just that and no longer try to supplement them with outside comments?

Blessings, Dick Leader

Liberty4u said...

Tom,

You wrote: "The issue of the affidavit will never be clear." To me this, along with the secret documents, is very clear:

1 Corinthians 6:1-8 (NIV)

1If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church![a] 5I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!
7The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?


My understanding of this verse is that Christians should solve their disputes among themselves. The Presbytery took a clear step in filing the affidavit with the intent of using the "threats and force of government" to later follow up with a lawsuit, if needed.

My understanding also would indicate that all such property disputes should be handled through mediation and/or arbitration by a neutral third party as a worst case.

One website I find very interesting at this time is: http://www.peacemaker.net which has some great resources.

Having left the PCUSA two years ago, I know that the Kirk will enjoy the burden lifted by being unequally yoked to the PCUSA. You will be in for some very enjoyable times as your challenges turn from dealing with the denomination to moving forward to doing God's work.

Sam Sibala said...

Stushie said...
As I wrote to you in the last blog posting, Tom. If you go to court saying that you disassociated from the PCUSA due to its stance on sexuality, yet you still continue to blog with blogger, you are going to lose your property case because it will be proved that your stance is selective and not total. Talk to your Session about this and get them to have a straw poll.

I choose to stay with blogger because I have not disassociated from the PCUSA on grounds of sexuality. I do not understand how you can come out of the church and not this blogger site.

These comments come from Reverend John Stuart, Erin Presbetyrian Church in Knoxville.

I read on his blog Heavens Highway

http://glenkirk.blogspot.com

these wonderful words of encouragement...

Perhaps we are going to come across people who carry painful and heavy burdens this week. Perhaps our first reaction is to avoid or show a disinterest in them. They need to know that we love them, so we need to be patient and listen. We need to be open to hearing their hurts and help them to find the joy, healing and strength that their spirits yearn.

What an awesome message Reverend John Stuart! This is the type of things we need blogged from our brothers in Christ.

If you would like to listen to Reverend Stuart he will be on www.southernrootsradio.com and he has a live show called "Seven Days" on Friday from 4pm-5pm. He encourages us to call in our differing views of religion and have an open honest discussion.


Hosted by Rev. John Stuart of Erin Presbyterian Church, Knoxville, Tennessee.

This live talk show will feature religious news stories that are local, national and international. Listeners will be invited to call in with their own views about what's happening and add to the lively discussions with guests. You can call during the show at:

(865)-546 -2148

www.sevend.net.

If you would like to dialogue with the members of his congregation his website is

www.erinpresbyterian.org.

I find his blog very enlightening.

Reverend it is nice to meet you. I look forward in speaking to you soon.

Sam Sibala
918-269-8491

Sam Sibala said...

If you would like a PDF of the affidavit send me an e-mail at
slsibala@yahoo.com and you can review document for your self. By the way if you would like the outline of PCUSA legal procedures and guidelines for dealing with churches like the Kirk, I can provide that as well.

Sam Sibala

Richard Wilson said...

Rev. Gray and All!

Thank you for this blog which gives us a means to express our opinions and interpretations of the information we have available to us (from all sources including our Bible). I hope this will be my final comment.

Also I want to say thank you to The Kirk for what I consider some really good work in mission. I only wish that you could have shared more of it with the rest of us by our working together. Before I complete this posting I hope to share some other wishes with you.

I regret that I did not make it clear that I was not being mean spirited with my comment about disappointment with the low percentage of votes vs membership. I fully understand not everyone can attend a meeting for various reason but for this particular meeting I would have expected that nearly 100 percent of membership would have tried to be there!

Can we agree that we have seen a lot of "us" against "them" and "my" right against "your" wrong which has made us all defensive--your defending The Kirk versus our defending EOP and PCUSA. I think also that we can agree that only God can and will judge what is "truly right" and that He will forgive us where we may be wrong if we earnestly ask for it!

Now back to my interpretations and beliefs. Regarding our differences on whether christian homosexuals should be ordained (yes I said christian--I have gotten to know some who I believe are better at it than many of us) I wish The Kirk (or anyone else capable of doing so) could have hosted a forum to get to truly know one another through talking and listening to one another. I wish we could have a similiar forum on our differing biblical interpretations (is our bible today inerrant or could it sometimes vary from God's intent through human error and misinterpretation?).

I wish we could have gotten together to talk about property issue concerns. I wish I could have told you about how I became aware of problems with some native american churches (it was a by-product of my participation in mission with some of our Choctaw Nation Parish Churches and hearing in reports at presbytery meetings from people we have charged to handle these matters). Incidentally, I don't understand why you didn't hear the same things I did in the Bartlesville meeting where I remember Kirk commissioners being present.

To try to bring this to a close I will summarize by saying "I wish we could have gotten together before the pot started boiling over so that we could have gotten to know one another through talking and listening to one another".

In a special response to P.W.'s post to me (refer to "Call it and they will come" and the final sentence in particular) I apologize for not making it clear that I had read all of the blog and read everything in "The Layman" and thought that I had all of the "facts" as you know them.

Forgive me if I offend someone but please allow me to say that I have observed that if you look to The Layman for the facts you will not always find the truth--if you believe everything you read there you are apt to experience the onset of paranoia which can lead to a whole lot of problems as we have recently seen.

Let me finally close with a very serious thought--can all of "us" and "them" join in prayer for forgiveness when we might be wrong in our interpretations? On this less serious note--can anyone direct me to an appropriate 12 step program to help me break my addiction to this soap opera?

Richard Wilson

Jason said...

Richard Wilson,
Thank you for your very kind and well spoken words. It is refreshing when someone who disagrees with the Kirk does so with class and maturity. I know that many people have said things on this blog out of anger or frustration.
For those of us who support the Kirk and the decisions’ made, we obviously feel like Tom is receiving unfair criticism and attack. And can anyone really blame us for wanting to defend him? Before anyone accuses us of hero worship or a cult of personality, we know he is a man, we know he is a sinner (just like the rest of us) and we know he makes mistakes. And those are the reason we love him and Wayne so much, because they are approachable, genuine and kind. I really wish all those who read this blog could have an opportunity to get to know these men.
But Richard, I have one question for you. I am not sure of your position or stance in the denomination, but you made the statement that you wish “we could have gotten together before the pot started boiling over so that we could have gotten to know one another through talking and listening to one another.”
That is a valid point, but you assume that the Kirk never spoke with anyone of a differing opinion. First of all, both Tom and Wayne have been active in the Presbyterian Church for decades. They have attended the conferences, GA, and other meetings. They have dialogued, fellowshipped, talked too, debated, and prayed with all the various parties in the PCUSA.
Simply but, they did exactly what you asked them to do, over a period of many years. Was every person brought into the loop? Of course not, the loop is just too big. The situation, as I see it, is that there is a strong disagreement on certain issues. You are not likely to change your mind, and vice versa. Tom has allowed for this forum and has censored no one’s comments.
I want to conclude (and this is not necessarily directed at your Richard) that most of us “pro-Kirk” folks have respected your right to disagree and have not tried force you to change your view or called you closed minded for sticking to your convictions. I get the feeling that many people think that because we have not changed our views after they have tried to convince us to, that somehow we are unwilling to listen or dialogue. We’ve listened, we just don’t agree. So, please allow us the same curtsey to stick to our convictions.

Jason Gardner

Anonymous said...

Well, I have been reading this blog now for a month, following the drama - some might say melo-drama - of the Kirk's slow movement out of the PCUSA and into the EPC. I wish you Godspeed in your new venture. It is time for me to recognize that you are gone and wish you well. The PCUSA will be fine, we will continue to have a witness to Christ and to the gospel, as will you, no doubt. It may be that when we all get to heaven, you guys may need to be separated out from the rest of us, so you will not have your eternal bliss tempered by the presence of those you thought were apostate. Farewell.

charleswelden said...

Dear Pastor Tom,

You have shared openly and allowed many unnecessary, self-serving, personally attacking responses by a few intelligent, and concerned folks but also far too many (disproportionate, consider the voting results) responses from some apparently VERY ignorant, misinformed, unreasonable "money changer type" individuals who need to be thrown out. Pastor Tom you don't have to put up with those disruptive attacks. You are a gracious leader but some of us lesser saints would probably too eagerly grab a whip and help drive the few often anonymous and others who do not seem to have the fruits of God's Holy Spirit evident (The Word says we will know them by their fruit.- not fruitiness) out to go join a group of their type and leave us to move ahead.

You should consider blocking more non-edifying responses and please DO accept the praise of thousands of people who are VERY proud of you and Wayne and all of the other brave, dedicated leaders. The distractors are really very few - it's just the Internet is like the old six-shooter of the West it was a pretend equalizer1
God continue to bless.

Anonymous said...

Please read pages 101 thru 103 of “True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards for a Culture in Crisis”, By Daniel R Heimbach for historical perspective of the PCUSA.

http://books.google.com/books?vid=
ISBN1581344856&id=T7zdQRM6mKYC&pg=
RA1-PA101&lpg=RA1-PA101&dq=PCUSA&sig
=quAvgHrtc1EExa7kw0V0hQ91vWs

I believe this affirms that The Kirk has not act in haste and that we have been essentially more than patient. More likely one could ask why did take so long?

Cheers to the Kirk congregation, Session and Pastors for their appropriate decision!

ps. if the url above does not link go to http://books.google.com/ and search via PCUSA

Anonymous said...

A few comments:

As an evangelical pastor deeply concerned with the direction of the PC(USA), I am sorry that the Kirk of the Hills has left the denomination. However, in light of recent developments concerning the "Louisville Papers," I can also understand why the Kirk chose the route it did. It is my hope that evangelical pastors and congregations will work more closely together in other Presbyteries to avoid the danger of being isolated, so that they do not feel the need to take such a drastic step.

Some comments on this blog make the assumption that by leaving, the Kirk of the Hills has declared it cannot have fellowship or work on mission together with PC(USA) congregations or individuals. While Tom Gray is the better person to ask about that, I personally do not believe that has to be the case. The congregation I serve, and I personally, work on common mission projects with churches of other denominations all the time. One example I particularly treasure is a local crisis pregnancy ministry called Life Choices, where I serve on their Board. The Board includes a United Methodist laywoman, a Catholic nun, a Catholic layman, and four non-denominational evangelicals. We have a wonderful unity in spite of our very different churches. Is that not possible between members of the Kirk and PCUSA congregations?

Concerning one poster who suggested the Layman is not a perfect source of news, obviously he's right, but is the PNS a perfect source of news?? I am not able to say that the Layman is less reliable than PNS although it's not perfect. It makes the most sense to rely on a variety of news.

Godspeed to Tom Gray and the Kirk of the Hills as they embark on the next stage of their journey with Christ ... and Godspeed to all of us who are still in the PCUSA, trying to follow Christ.

Grace and peace,

Rev. John B. Erthein
Elderton, Pennsylvania

Anonymous said...

To Pastor Tom Gray,

You state that in regards to the filing of the affidavits it probably will never be clear. Well the EOP filed affidavits because a small Presbyterian Congregation in the EOP discovered that someone sold their property. The EOP stated publically through the Trustees their actions. You were in attendance at that Presbytery Meeting. The Trustees announced at that time they were going to file affidavits across the board. They did. No secret here. We all heard it and gave our approval. I was sitting next behind you. You said: Aye as in YES!

The results. The trustees, acting on behalf of the EOP are getting back what belongs to us (sold property). They also have found other property that the Presbyterian Church didn't know we had. It has nothing to do with The Kirk. You know that and you have blantantly left this information out of your blog. For you to continue to argue about a secret plot against the Kirk is at best disingenuous, misleading and not becoming a Minister of the Word.

Mike

TomGray said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TomGray said...

Dear Mike,
Nothing of the sort took place. When one of our members who is on the board of presbytery trustees inquired as to the action, he was told that he had missed the trustees meeting and that minutes had not been taken.

Without minutes, how could the report have been made? Also, I was not at the meeting you mention early enough for the trustees report for me to have voted for it. As to sitting next to you and voting "aye," you also know that we don't vote to approve actions that trustees have already made (if they had made such a decision/report). You are welcome to criticize me. Just don't make things up.

Tom

goulagirl77 said...

fyi... there is a called presby meeting tomrrow (tuesday) at 10am at st james pres church to discuss the kirk situation. i didn't know if you knew... or cared :~)
good luck with everything you are doing!! nice to see people who are willing to stand for what they believe!!
~mary