Chrissie and I were at the annual Kirk Retreat for Friday night and Saturday. It was a great gathering with more than twice the number of people who attended last year. On the drive home my phone rang--it was Wayne. "Have you heard about the letter?"
Wayne went on to describe a letter sent to all Kirk members indicating that those who wished to remain PCUSA would be worshiping at Southminster Church at 5pm Sunday afternoons until they could meet at the Kirk buildings (presumably when the presbytery thinks it will take control of the property).
This is the third try by the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery to draw out a so-called "true church" from the Kirk congregation. The first was a mild attempt to provide a "supply pastor" for the Kirk since I and Wayne had left the PCUSA. The second was a letter inviting members to a meeting that took place at First Presbyterian, Tulsa. This is, by my count, the third attempt.
This letter raises several issues in my mind. First, we left the denomination virtually unified as a congregation. However, the presbytery is actively seeking to split people away from our congregation. Clearly their action is schismatic.
The second issue is about the legal process that we are in. The presbytery has responded to our suit to remove the affidavit from our property with a demand that the court force us to hand over our membership lists, along with a printed set of labels. The presbytery obviously already has the list. They've used it twice, once with the invitation to the meeting downtown and now with this letter inviting Kirk members to attend another church.
The question is why are they asking for this from the court? It costs a lot to go to court, and it makes no sense to spend the money to do so in order to get they already have in their possession. I would think that members of the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery, knowing that money is in short supply there, might question such an expense.*
Third, the people who voted against the Kirk's disaffiliation are always welcome to attend church at the Kirk (some actually are). If what they want, though, is to be in the PCUSA, they can easily accomplish that by joining any of the PCUSA congregations in Tulsa. The handful of people wanting to remain with the PCUSA neither need the entire Kirk facility (designed for 2,000) nor could such a small number of people be able to pay the bills for maintaining the facility.
The EOP seems to be going blindly through a process--the check list, if you will--regardless of the illogic of doing so. If the gameplan says "get the church to hand over membership lists" they are doing so, even though they have them in hand.
So, the EOP will hold worship for the "Kirk" on Sunday afternoons at Southminster, deeming it the "true church." These Sunday afternoons are not meetings for discussion. They are an attempt to form a separate congregation from the Kirk. I would guess that they are hoping for numbers to indicate that there is a real division in the Kirk. I don't think that'll happen.
Keep praying--keep the faith,
* I know that the presbytery is responding to the Kirk's suit for a "quiet title" on our property. All the presbytery has to do to stop the expense is remove the affidavit that they secretly filed on our property. We asked them to do so, they refused, and we had to take legal recourse.