Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Serious News

The following is the official news release from Kirk of the Hills. We have struggled mightily over the last few years regarding our relationship to the PCUSA. The session decided that, especially in response to the recently-revealed legal plans of the PCUSA, it was time to take decisive action. The disaffiliation, though, is independent of whatever happens with the property. We have done what we believe to be right.

Tom

KIRK OF THE HILLS CHURCH DISAFFILIATES
FROM PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (U.S.A.)


Yesterday the elders and the trustees of Kirk of the Hills voted to disaffiliate from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) denomination in response to decisions made by the PCUSA at the national level which depart from the authority of the Bible and the denomination’s historical beliefs.

Rev. Tom Gray and Rev. Wayne Hardy have resigned from the PCUSA, and have been hired by the Kirk of the Hills Corporation as co-pastors of the church. Rev. Gray said, “I ask that Christians in Tulsa and around America pray not only for Kirk of the Hills, but also for the Presbyterian denomination as a whole. We will continue to love and pray for our brothers and sisters in that denomination, and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ to use these recent events for His will, and to accomplish His work.”

With this disaffiliation from PCUSA, the Kirk of the Hills will affiliate with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).

Rev. Tom Gray and members of the Session will be available for questions and one-on-one interaction Monday through Friday evenings, August 21 – 25, from 6:30 – 9 in the Kirk Conference Room in the church office.

There will be a called Congregational meeting of the Kirk on Wednesday evening, August 30, 2006 at 6:30pm in the Kirk Sanctuary regarding these recent actions.

23 comments:

Alan Trafford said...

Tom,
God be with you in this courageous step.
Alan Trafford

B. Allen said...

Thank you for being an inspiration to churches across the country. Thank you for standing firm for Christ. Thank you for placing Truth above all else!
My prayers are with you and your wonderful congregation. May we all have your faith and courage.
Barbara Allen, Elder
First Pres Church of San Mateo

Dave Moody said...

Tom,
I'm in Atlanta at the Coalition thing. Just read your blog. Wow. Just prayed for you Wayne and the Session. I'm not sure what to think or say, lots of questions for you - but know I'm grateful to have you and Wayne as colleagues (present tense!). I trust your judgement, and so for what its worth, will gratefully stand with you as you've heard the Lord's voice. And will be praying for wisdom, winsomeness, courage and favor for the Kirk's leadership.

grace & peace
dm

Renee Guth said...

Praying and praying and praying...

In Christ's love,
Renee

NetProphet said...

Tom,

I have been a member of the Kirk since the time that you came in 1982 and I have seen you grow and mature in Christ, and for this I thank God. As a lay person I have watched our denomination quitely degenerate in values and committment to the work that Christ was commissioned all of us to do. You have shown incredible courage and leadership during difficult times in our church and you are a tremendous role model and inspiration for us at the Kirk.
I would like to let you know that you and Wayne, along with your families are in our prayers. I am so glad that you are led by the Holy Spirit in humility and truth and I stand behind you and Wayne as you lead us out of the
wilderness. Thank you for your leadership and committment to our Lord Jesus Christ.

mark hildebrand said...

Tom, Wayne, Jeff, Dan, our faithful session:

Thank you for your courage and faithfulness. God will surely sustain that which he has ordained. I am available for any task that is necessary as we go forward into this new phase for our congregation. I know that I am not alone in my support for our decision.

Mark

charleswelden said...

God bless your courageous and necessary decisions. He will honor His Word and confirm those who stedfastly stand firm in the infallible Word of God. There are MANY with you.

Anonymous said...

Tom, Wayne, Kirk Session:

My response to the decision to leave the PCUSA and join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church is: Hallelujah!!! Praise the Lord!!!

The PCUSA is a sinking ship, and I feel we've just been given a lifeboat. Now we are free from all the things that have been diverting our time and energy from doing the things God has called us to do--proclaim the Gospel, bring the lost to Christ, nurture people in their faith, and send out people to serve in ministry and mission. We can now truly fulfill The Great Commission!!!

For those who are unsure we should have broken with the PCUSA, I remind you that for the past 40 or so years we have been fighting a battle that has only intensified and made us more and more frustrated. I have served on Presbytery Committees, attended many Presbytery meetings, and been a commissioner to General Assembly in 2003. Things have not gotten any better, only worse.

I have prayed and cried and called out to God for renewal and revival in the PCUSA. Perhaps if enough people decide they can no longer abide with the unbiblical direction in which the PCUSA is going and leave, the PCUSA leadership will begin to wake up--only God knows.

Some of the most harsh words of comdemnation Jesus ever spoke was directed at the religious leaders of the institutional church who had twisted God's Word and Laws to suit their own purposes. (see Matt. 23)

My prayer now is that the congregation of the Kirk will stand behind this decision and proclaim their allegiance to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit along with the Bible as the unchanging, eternal Word of God.

I am excited about the future. God called me into the Presbyterian Church for a purpose and I look forward to being a part of a Presbyterian denomination that holds on to Biblical standards and doesn't give in to the ways of the world.

The days ahead may be difficult, but we at the Kirk have a chance to stand up for God and to stand firm in the faith.

May God pour out His Spirit upon us to lead and guide us in the days ahead,
Peggy Alexander

Dan Dermyer said...

Faithful Friends,
I too have been watching and praying. May God bless your strong action of faith. Many give thanks to God that you are seeking to honor Him in all you do.
Dan Dermyer

randy buchman said...

Having been raised UCC in a church where Bibles were absent from the pews, I experienced first hand the effects of a church guided by man rather than biblical principals. As a youngster in the “70’s” I viewed the church (UCC) as another group of adults attempting to force upon me their unsolicited worldviews. I left the church in spirit and perused an education in the sciences guided by the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics as a result.

Last night I read how a PCUSA news letter portrayed our July New Wine Skins conference as a fringe group of fundamentalists waving arms and rolling around on the floors speaking in tongues. To the contrary, by appearance, anyone who attends Kirk of the Hills would not be able discern between it and my adolescent UCC church with exception to the absence of Bibles in the sanctuary.

It appears the PCUSA is more concerned with playing “office” and lording over its subjects than following the Great Commission. The PCUSA is not the first institution to consider their generation “Enlightened” and elevate their ephemeral worldviews above historical norms. Their numbers speak for themselves. As the textbooks say, “In order to remain profitable, stay focused on your core business”.

Moving forward,
randy

reveric said...

Tom,

Our hearts, our support, and our prayers are with you.

Eric Amundson

Anonymous said...

Since I am incredibly ignorant on church procedure, I feel compelled to play Devil's Advocate. Someone please inform me!

The announcement says we HAVE left PCUSA and WILL join EPC. It sounds like it is already a done deal. But, there is a congregational vote on Wednesday. I am confused. What if a large majority of non-supporters show up and vote? Does the vote mean anything? If the vote DOES mean something, did we not just do things in reverse order? How silly would we feel if the vote didn't turn out like we think? Or would we even be informed of the voting results at that point?

Not trying to raise a ruckus, but my simple mind does not understand.

The Parson said...

As an evangelical, I am confused: Peggy Alexander writes that the PCUSA is a sinking ship, but we are called to reach out to the lost and nurture the faith of disciples. What about the folks on the sinking ship? Do they not merit our labors? If heretics, shouldn't we preach to them as Jonah (reluctantly) preached to Ninevah? If wayward, shouldn't we speak the truth in love to them as Paul did to the Corinthians?

Todd Hester, Pastor
Northminster Presbyterian Church
Roanoke, Virginia

Dean Weaver said...

Tom and Wayne,

We stand with you! Grace and Peace!

-dean weaver

Anonymous said...

Tom,
Thanks! My family has been...and will continue praying... for you, Wayne and the church. I praise God for giving the Elders the courage to stand for God's word and not succumb to the deviance of PCUSA. We welcome the persecution and resulting joy that comes with obeying the Truth.
-Kurt Minnich

Anonymous said...

In response to the Parson,

Yes, Jesus does call us to reach out and to nurture the disciples. We've certainly tried, but you have to understand that there are 2 very divided theological factions in the PCUSA. There is a very liberal element that feels scripture is something that can be changed according to the current trend of the culture. I have argued for the virgin birth and the bodily resurrection of Jesus with PCUSA pastors who believed in neither. The sexual morality issue is another, for example: scripture condemns adultery and homosexual acts, yet we have groups in the PCUSA who deny that these things are sinful and actually encourage these things to be accepted behavior of church memebers and even clergy.

Sometimes people who claim to be Christians want to have their own way and do their own thing no matter what the Word of God says.

Life is too short to try to keep trying to convince people of the truth of Scripture if they don't want to believe it. Why stand in front of a brick wall and continue to bash your head into it in an effort to get it to listen to you?

There are too many lost people who are hungry to hear the good news of the Gospel and who will receive it eagerly for us to spend all our time trying to change people who don't want to be changed.

Remember in Luke 9 when Jesus called his disciples to go out and preach the Gospel and minister? He told them if the people in a town refused to listen, they should leave and go elsewhere.

Luke 9:1-5 (NIV)
"When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: "Take nothing for the journey-no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them."

We've been preaching to those on the "sinking ship" and we've been tyring to speak the truth in love for about 40 years, but they don't want to hear.

Isn't it about time for us to get on with reaching out to those who will hear, whose hearts will be moved by the Holy Spirit to repent and be saved. The Christian life is about being transformed from the old sinful life to a new way of living in Christ. It is not bringing the sins of the past and trying to make them compatible with the Christian life.

May God's grace and peace be with us all as we strive to be faithful to Him and His word,
Peggy Alexander

Annan Ymous said...

Its great that the Kirk has the financial wherewithall to break away from PCUSA, but I'm saddended that other churches in Tulsa that might want to do the same thing won't break. Particularly those like Trinity who have just built a new building, no doubt owned by PCUSA.

Anonymous said...

Peggy,

There is a piece of the logic for leaving that has been bugging me and you put it in words exactly in this post.

You said: “We've been preaching to those on the "sinking ship" and we've been trying to speak the truth in love for about 40 years, but they don't want to hear.

Isn't it about time for us to get on with reaching out to those who will hear, whose hearts will be moved by the Holy Spirit to repent and be saved.”

That can’t be right. It sounds like you are saying that having found that the PCUSA will not listen to your message, you are now leaving it for the EPC, because they will listen where the PCUSA would not, repent and be saved, where the PCUSA would not.

It sounds like you want to preach to a new choir.(?!?)

I am guessing that what you meant is that you are angry at the PCUSA for not promoting the Gospel the way you wish it did, it won’t listen to you, it won’t believe the way you do (I really don’t like to anthropomorphize the institution, it’s really just a bunch of people like you and me, trying to get by as best we can), and so you would like to pitch your tent elsewhere. OK, that’s fine. Now, because you had been speaking openly about sedition and secession, you panicked and decided it is the better part of valor to do unto others before you get done unto. Your desire to preach the Gospel starts sounding like a nasty domestic dispute, something the neighbors are going to have to call the cops to quiet down.

Or maybe you meant what you really said.

All the while you were having these thoughts you were building a fantastic church, reaching out to thousands, doing mission, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, all that good stuff, and the PCUSA never stood in the way. Do you really think they didn't notice? They even helped.

So what is up with that?

I've read your other posts with your list of complaints, but if it had not been for the Layman, nobody would even know about them. The point being, there is nothing substantial there when you remove the gossip factor. Those things are incosequential, specially to your own mission in Tulsa.

What is consequential you have been doing just fine, with everyone's blessing. Why break it now?

I just don’t get it.

Jodie

The Parson said...

In response to Ms. Alexander: We conservatives are rightly frustrated with the hard-heartedness of the liberals among us. Forty years in the wilderness is tough! But who is to say that the 41st year isn't the year of their repentance? The liberal error is narcissism--Scripture is interpreted to mean what they want it to mean. We commit the same error if WE are the ones who decide who is worthy of our Gospel-effort and who is not. We conservatives love to quote Esther--that maybe we have been placed in this kingdom for just such a time as this--because we want to be faithful to Christ. But God HAS placed us here for just such a time. Just as Ninevah needed God's Word and Jonah was loathe to take it to them, the liberals need God's Word and we are satisfied to let them burn in hell. Did Christ treat us in that way?

Franci Hillsman said...

To the Parson - Even the Ninevites only had 40 days to repent. Jonah 3:4

Anonymous said...

Both Jodie and the parson have brought up valid points to so I am responding.

First and foremost, the Kirk has not done anything heretical or sinful. The Session and Pastors have had the courage to stand up for their belief that the Bbile is the Word of God. The chief tenent of the Protestant faith is: the Bible is the one rule of faith and practice. (Not the Book of Order, the PUP Report, the Trinity Paper, etc.)

Many people in the PCUSA feel that the denomination has strayed too far from Scripture in trying to accommodate the wishes and demands of every group within it.

There is a double standard in the denomination which has been there for years. Some churches, pastors, and groups are allowed to very openly disobey the Book of Order and are not disciplined. Churches that express strong disagreement with the leadership and the direction of the PCUSA are being threatened with having their pastors dismissed, their property confiscated, their sessions dismissed and being replaced with administrative commissions.

Would not the gracious thing to do be to agree to disagree and to negotiate a settlement? That's what Paul and Barnabas did in Acts 15:39-40. They found that they just couldn't work together. So Paul took Silas and went in one direction and Barnabas took John Mark in another. Both teams continued to proclaim the gospel.

Please, please understand that what the Kirk Session and pastors did was done out of deep faith and commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Should they be comdemned and "raked over the coals" because they, like many past Christians have dared to tkae a courageous stand? Should Daniel have prayed silently to God so his enemies wouldn't catch him breaking the King's decree? He could have avoided that whole lion's den thing, but he chose to be faithful to God.

When Jesus spoke against the religious leaders of His day and cleansed the Temple of the crooked money changers it resulted in His arrest and crucifixion.

The Protestant movement came out of criticism of the established religious institution. Luther was living dangerously when he posted those 95 Theses on the Cathedral door.

Jodie, you don't have to agree with the Kirk's decision. Just try to understand that it was done out a stong sense of commitment to God and His word.

Now for the parson's comments regarding the book of Esther. "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14)

Perhaps God has put the Kirk in the position to bring attention to the situation in the PCUSA in a way that deliverance can arise in some way. Sometimes it takes drastic measures to awaken people.

God is soveriegn over human history and can work in the most amazing ways when we see only chaos. The faithful remnant returned from captivity, rebuild the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem, and worship of the one, true God continued.

As for the very reluctant prophet Jonah, he was given a simple message to preach. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned." (Jonah 3:4) Ninevah was given a time limit to hear and respond. The 41st day would bring destruction.

As for the liberals--they have heard God's Word and can also read it for themselves. The key is their response to it. Jesus tells a parable about a sower and the response of the vaious soils to the seed in Matthew 13:3-9: "Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop-a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear."

The response to the gospel is the responsibility of the hearer not the messenger.

Lead us, Lord, in Your righteousness in the days ahead; make Your way plain before our faces,
Peggy Alexander

Anonymous said...

To the Parson, Jodie and others unable or unwilling to understand Ms Alexander and the decision to recognize the FACT the PCUSA has left YEs that group has left the Bible believing, faithful and dedicated congregants who desire leadership that encourages them and all people to turn from Bible-stated sinful ways, humble themselves, seek, pursue, commit their WHOLE beings to what God has already said (without changing it for cultural convenience) then God will bless. Jesus did tell His disciples (that should be us too) to dust off the shoes and leave those people who WOULD not listen and accept. Paul tells us in Romans to MARK AND AVOID those who cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine we have learned (what the Bible teaches) Don't criticize Ms Alexander or Tom or Wayne Look in the mirror.

Larry said...

When the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) wrote its Book of Order in the early 1970's, they had this to say about church property: "Particular churches need remain in association with any court of this body only so long as they themselves so desire. The relationship is voluntary, based upon mutual love and confidence, and is in no sense to be maintained by the exercise of any force or coercion whatsoever. A particular church may withdraw from any court of this body at any time for reasons which seem to it sufficient."

The coercion being deployed by the PCUSA denominational leadership stands in such stark contrast to the mutual love and confidence displayed in the growing PCA denomination.