Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Waiting for Support

There are a lot of PCUSA leaders who are waiting until the GA permanent judicial commission gets a case, hoping to see if the PJC undoes the “local option” aspect of the PUP report. There is already a taste, I believe, of what is to come.

There was a decision by a synod PJC on one of the most clear-cut cases possible.
A Classical Presbyterian: Neither Hot Nor Cold: Synod of the Sun PJC refuses to correct Mission Presbytery: “In a 5-5 tie, the Synod of the Sun PJC has refused to correct Mission Presbytery for admitting an admitted practicing lesbian woman to candidacy for ordination to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament.
After repeated deadlocked votes by the PJC that could not break the tie, the complaint against the presbytery was not upheld.”

Additionally, the Redwoods Presbytery took an even more egregious violation of the PCUSA constitution—the same-sex marriages that Jane Spahr admittedly performed—and decided that there was “no violation.” This, of course, was before PUP was approved by the GA, but it tells the same story: there will be presbyteries and synods who heartily approve of local option. The GA might object but, unless their rules are supported and enforced, they will be meaningless.

The big question is how the PJC will choose to interpret the cases before them. Often, they ignore theology and focus only on process. In such a case, a lower judicatory can make a vile decision, but do it the “right” way, winning over any complaint against them. The current ethos of the PCUSA doesn’t look promising for those who wait.

Keep praying—keep the faith,
Tom

16 comments:

NetProphet said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mark hildebrand said...

To all:
A recent perusal of the book of Proverbs reminded me of the attitude that the Lord expects from me. Perhaps this can guide ALL OF US as we continue to "discuss" the current issues in this blog.

Pr 14:12 & 16:25 - "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death"

Pr 26:20 - "For lack of wood a fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down."

Pr 11:12 - "He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent"

Pr 10:19 - "When there are many words,transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise."

And finally:

Pr 19:11 - "A man's discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression"

I am edified by the comments posted here, but I urge us ALL, to heed the admonition of these proverbs, and witness "with all gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15)

Mark Hldebrand

Anonymous said...

netprophet,

Thank you. I have had the experience just this week of a Christian co-worker asking me about the happenings at our church. I agree that the discussion and debate surrounding the happenings at the Kirk are providing us with an opportunity to not only make clear our purpose to others but to also lift up Christ to them in the process. I will pray for you this week as you have requested. I seem to recall that Christianity thrives in adversity.

MB

Wayne W said...

Hello

Yesterday while visiting the Red Cross Blood Center (someone I was with was giving) I had a discussion with the receptionist. She said she was proud to be a member of the 12,000 member Church On The Move. When she heard I was from the Kirk, she expressed approval and admiration for what Kirk had done.
Then I asked "What have you heard about what Kirk has done?" followed by "How do you feel about it?", seeing this as an opportunity to witness Jesus in the midst of it all. Immediately came an explanation of Kirk had put those 'evil people in their place'(obviously referring to the PCUSA) and the person began to tell me what evil deeds had been, and how unfair they those evil people were being, and they should be ashamed of stealing Kirk's property.
I asked where they had gotten their information, since it seemed sort of one-sided. I saw it as an opportunity to discuss the facts as the Lord might direct. The person's response was that it was from listening to the Kirk pastor on the radio, and from the newspapers. It was immediately clear and we agreed that the person, we, should depend on the Lord in this, not on information possibly misunderstood by them or even mis-reported, and we should pray for God's purpose and Will be done. We agreed we should be sure that what we believe aligns with what the Scriptures tell us, and remember that God is God of Love, not of confusion and accusation designed to harm.
After a short lived discussion (blood bag filled and refreshments served) I departed. But I am the one who who had received ministry. The person seemed satisfied with additional information about the whole body of Christ, and less 'blaming' in her attitude. I was satisfied to more clearly understand that God's purpose and the Love of Jesus was to shine through in all of this, regardless of our attempts to 'fix things'.
God has appointed leaders among us, we are to lift them up, and in the way God tells us in Scripture. He'll do the pruning and removing of unproductive weeds from His field, leaders and all.
Yep, it was a short time of ministry in both directions.

Wayne W

kevin smith said...

Even the review process for these ordination decisions are subjective, and I believe that people waiting will still not get a clear answer. Follow my logic in going through an example of the new AI process:

An ordaining body can now successfully say, "After prayerfully and deliberately considering this candidate who is in an active, non-repetentent homosexual relationship, and applying the Authoritative Interpretation in clarifying G-6.0108, we have determined that this person's departure from our constitutional standards in G-6.0106b does not constitute a failure to adhere to the essentials of the Reformed faith and polity under G-6.0108 in the Book of Order, so we are ordaining this candidate."

Let's look at how this could be reviewed by the PJCs. Because the PUP's Authoritative Interpretation is used to clarify the ordination policy, then the higher governing body reviewing this decision must look at the authoritative interpretation of the ordination policy of G-6.0108 as it decides whether or not the governing body has violated a constitutional standard. If it is shown that this governing body conducted its examination reasonably, responsibly, prayerfully and deliberately, and that they used the new Authoritative Interpretation to interpret G-6.0108, then the decision to make this ordination decision could stand, because the new A.I interprets and clarifies all of what G-6.0108 means.

Reasonably. Responsibly. Prayerfully. Deliberately. This is the criteria, looking through the lens of the new "A.I." And I'm guessing that even the Synods differ on this. Some decisions will go one way, others will go other ways. But looking at it from a strict constitutional perspective, most of these decisions will be hard to overturn.

So - I don't think that waiting is a wise strategy. We know what happened, and we know what changed. So if anyone is waiting for something clear and decisive, review what happened at the G.A., because that's as clear as it's going to get.

-Kevin

Mr. E said...

Dear Pastor Gray,
I understand how local option applies to Mission Pesbytery's action but fail to see the relevance of the gay marraige issue to local option. As far as I understand, same-sex marraige is not recognized by the PC(USA). Please correct me if I am mistaken.

In Peace,
Mr. E

NetProphet said...

Mark Hildebrand,

Thank you for your gentle correction and holding me accountable for my actions. Your point is well taken and thank you for admonishing me with the love of Christ. I received your words and will act accordingly to glorify Christ not my flesh.

Sam Sibala

TomGray said...

To Wayne W(ard)
Wayne--I'm glad for your ministry opportunity. I have to ask you, though, if you are really a member of the Kirk (I know that you're on the rolls, but this goes deeper).

You resigned as an elder/trustee. You and your wife have been attending another church for months. When we asked the other church if you'd transferred membership there, they said "they were unable to answer that question." Yet, as soon as you resigned, your wife requested a letter sent.

You are no longer attending the Kirk, and that is fine. It is a free choice and we wish you well at your new church. Having made that change, though, you really are no longer "from the Kirk."
Blessings,
Tom

Mark Smith said...

Tom,

It is in INCREDIBLY BAD TASTE to air a member or former member's personal history on a public website. PARTICULARLY since there has been a disagreement with the church.

The correct action would be to contact him privately and determine whether or not he considered himself still a member of the Kirk. And if not, to ask him not to identify himself as such. This should be part of the pastoral care that you provide to an inactive member. The PCUSA Book of Order requires it, but even though you no longer accept that authority it is still a good idea and the Right Thing to Do.

Yes, we do expect pastors to behave appropriately even when members do not.

Anonymous said...

Tom,

Kudos in your response to Wayne. Now, if only you would recognize that you are no longer "from the PCUSA" and move on. If you feel the never-ending need to comment on the situation of a denomination of which you are no longer a part, then Wayne certain has the freedom to do the same. He's technically more a part of your congregation than you are a part of the PCUSA.

Anonymous said...

Tom,

Let me add my hearty "amen" to Mark. Your response to Wayne was simply abusive. He identified himself with an initial for a last time, and you decided to out him on a public forum and use his last name. The reasons for doing so arise not from any kind of pastoral concern, else you would have gone to him directly. Your character becomes clearer and clearer with each passsing day.

txtian

TomGray said...

Dear Mark,
Thanks for your note. I don't disagree with you. As with many things, there is far more here than meets your eye, including private meetings.
As to anonymous, I comment on what affects me. As long as we are in a struggle with the denomination, I will comment.
Tom

Wayne W said...

Pastor Tom

Quite a summary, but more that my sharing a ministry experience deserves, I think.

I don't feel free to discuss details of things like this in a blog, but you, Wayne Hardy and I have visited on most all of this, haven't we, in the privacy of e-mails, including elders and trutees as appropriate. Perhaps I should address the items you brought out:

Yes. I did resign my offices of elder and trustee and in a way that would not show disunity among the leadership. The reasons are understandably absent from this blog. However, all the things in these matters have been sent to elders and trustees.

Yes. My wife and I have taken The Eucharist in thanksgiving early every Sunday for several months where it was given. It wasn't given at these times at Kirk. I came immediately to Kirk afterwards for church services or 'Sunday School', and elder and trustee duties. You, Wayne H and I clearly discussed that we were taking The Eucharist, and I was unaware you objected to us taking The Eucharist at another church where it was given.

Yes. They could not answer the reported request because I've not transferred anything. Organizations tend to not give out info' if they do not have any, even hospitals - there is a privacy of information consideration. They really may not have know it was me.

Yes. I am 'from the Kirk' whether in present tense or past tense and probably always will be in one tense or the other, depending on the context of the communications. It would have been odd for me to say to the lady I'm 'at the Kirk' while standing in her lobby at the Red Cross offices.

As a matter of fact, I was at Kirk when I read Scripture with you 27 August at all three traditional services. I have kept staff and officers fully informed of my July and August travels (July at GA in Birmingham recall I had to sign that paper by fax. By the way - remember we had dinner as a group in Bessemer, and went to church services in Birmingham as a Kirk group. You sent a photo on the blog.) And, I was at Kirk for the Session meeting 15 August and called congregational meeting 30 August, etc...on and on.

As they say - 'Lighten Up'- you'll see things a little better. It was, in fact, a meaningful ministry experience I shared (the pupose of my message)in spite of your unrelated observations.

Blessings

Wayne W

Wayne W said...

Mark Smith 2:17 15 Sept and Tom Gary 2:48 15 Sept

Hey fellas, it was only meant to share a ministry experience. None of this discussion (including mine) was meant to cause these kinds of feelings to surface.

I do have to question, though, if Pastor Tom was referring to a single meeting in his office and/or other things done, I'm not aware of them. Most everything I refer to is in writing. Perhaps he's recalling meetings he has had with someone else about me.

I suggest if there are feelings being experienced that are difficult, let's visit about them. I harbour no feelings like these towards anyone.

Blessings

Wayne W(ard)

Anonymous said...

As a gay Christian Presbyterian staff member in the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery for many years, I would like to say that I am pleased to see that the Kirk is leaving the PCUSA if the members of this fellowship truly feel so much ill will toward their fellow Christians because of something as natural and pre-ordained by God as one's sexual orientation. May the grace and forgiveness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you (one and all) as you make it your mission and obsession to judge others whose only sin was living in the natural way that God created them to live.
The peace of Christ be with you.

Anonymous said...

These paragraphs address some of the assertions made by the above commenter. The full article is at www.equip.org/free/DH055-1.htm. Be aware that it contains some graphic information provided by a physician.


The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex (1990) we find the statement that "sexual orientation, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is not readily changed by any type of intervention" (emphasis added). Thus, while it is not easy, changing one's sexual orientation is nonetheless possible — which could not be the case if homosexuality was innate and immutable.

This was confirmed on a recent segment of ABC's 20/20, which had a story dealing with a Dr. Joseph Nicolosi. Nicolosi is a psychologist and psychotherapist who has been helping homosexual men convert to heterosexuality for a number of years now.
Are there really changed lives? There is Darlene Bogle, a woman who "struggled with lesbianism" for 17 years. She was raised in an environment where she was sexually abused by different men and boys, the first at the age of three. Her parents divorced when she was only five. Her new stepfather frequently abused her, both verbally and physically. In her own words she was raised in "a home that lacked nurturing, that was void of positive role models and void of love." Today, through the grace and mercy of God, she has been completely free for 15 years from her former lifestyle and is currently a counselor at Paraklete Ministries in Hayward, California.

Are there really changed lives, people who were exclusively homosexual and became heterosexual? Yes. Have there not been those who have fallen back into their old lifestyles? Again, the answer is yes, which is to be expected. Just like in Alcoholics Anonymous, the road is rarely easy and involves a tremendous commitment by the individual seeking recovery and healing. Sometimes individuals stumble and never get back up again. Sometimes they stumble, get back up, and continue on in the process of recovery. And occasionally, individuals are healed instantly and never turn back again. But the fact remains that there are many former homosexuals, ex-gays, who have been transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.

Is the homosexual lifestyle a healthy one? The information presented above just scratches the surface showing the pathological nature of these sexual practices. Much more could be shared (e.g., the homosexual is three times more suicidal than the heterosexual; a recent study shows the life expectancy of homosexual men and women without AIDS being about 33 years shorter than that of the heterosexual; and so forth),45 but space will not permit it. I believe that any unbiased reader would have to admit that homosexuality is neither a healthy lifestyle nor a natural one.

Before closing I need to clarify that while I believe that homosexuality is anatomically aberrant, psychologically deviant, and morally bankrupt, it is also just as true that we are all sinners. The Bible states that we have all turned our backs on God and gone our own way. As Martin Luther once put it, we each "sin often and daily."

Except for the grace and mercy of God, each one of us would be left in our own little world of sin, alone and helpless. The good news, though, is that God has reached out to us, coming down to become one with us in our humanity, dying and rising again — that we may be free from the bondage of sin.

For anyone struggling with the bondage of homosexuality, or the bondage of any other sin, there is freedom available at the cross of Calvary. Our task as Christians is to lovingly reach out to all people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.