Sunday, October 01, 2006

The PCUSA-Kirk "Congregation"

I finally had a chance to read the letter that Doug Dodd, representing the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery’s administrative commission on the Kirk, wrote to members.
Dear Member of Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church,

You are invited to a new series of Worship Services for members and friends of Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church here in Tulsa.

You have received this invitation because we understand you are or have been a member of Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church.

Our Administrative Commission has been charged by the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery with providing pastoral care and worship opportunities to any members of Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church who do not desire to leave their Church or the Presbyterian Church, USA.

Because the former leadership of the Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church and some members have expressed their intention to leave our denomination and affiliate with another, we are not currently able to meet in the church building on East 61st Street. For the month of October we will be meeting on Sunday evenings in the sanctuary of Southminster Presbyterian Church at 3500 South Peoria here in Tulsa.

Worship will begin at 5:00 p.m. each Sunday beginning October 1st. Pastors and members from Presbyterian Churches in the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery will conduct the worship services.

We Christians who have been raised in or drawn to the Presbyterian Church have some challenging days ahead, but we believe that with God's grace and the support and love of our Presbyterian brothers and sisters in Christ, our church will grow and continue to do God's work in our world.

We hope you will join us as Christian and as members of Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church. If you have questions about the special services, call or e-mail me.
Yours in Christ's Love,
S. Douglass Dodd
I don’t know how many PCUSA-Kirk members will attend the 5pm service for them at Southminster Presbyterian Church. It may be hard to determine accurately, since the letter invited “Kirk members and friends of the Kirk” to the service. My guess is that anyone from the presbytery will be deemed a “friend” of the Kirk, just so that numbers can be padded.

What is the EOP doing, or thinks it’s doing, regarding the Kirk? They have been blindly following process, ready to send missives to those who don’t want them, ask for lists they already possess, and to create a sub-Kirk that barely, or doesn’t, exist.

The EOP is certainly free to do whatever it wants, for its own sake. It would be a better thing if they founded a new church and expanded it from there. I think, though, that they’re just trying to score points they think that they will need in future legal developments. If they can identify a “true” church—of any size—they can argue that it needs the Kirk property.

One thing that the EOP says it is doing is setting up a congregation to occupy the Kirk’s facilities after they take the property.

What the EOP should do for PCUSA-Kirk members is encourage them to find a place in a congregation that already exists. Are they doing them any favors by encouraging them to be a “holding” congregation to receive the Kirk property? Not really.

Most experts agree that it takes at least 100 people to form a congregation successfully. If all Christians tithed, it would only take 10 families to support one pastor. Facilities, missions, and program costs would be above that. So, 100 people tithing (25 or more families) could pull it off—that is, if they are not overburdened with buildings and maintenance.

The Kirk facility is around 100,000 square feet. It is heated and air-conditioned in a number of zones, any one of which represents multiples of the cost of a large house. Maintenance requirements would be overwhelming to a small congregation. Attendance of 36 to 100 people in that facility is ludicrously out of proportion to need. The fact is, there has been no PCUSA congregation in the EOP that needs a space as large as we have—except us.

The EOP’s so-called claim on the Kirk’s property goes further than the buildings. It includes all the computers, printing equipment, vehicles, phone systems, furniture, bank accounts, and supplies. These are owned by us in the proportion to the ministry that we do. If the Kirk property’s use were to move from a weekly attendance of 1,400 down to 30, all this equipment would be wasted.

The PCUSA and the EOP state that the Kirk property must be best used to the mission of the church. My guess is that they want the Kirk property just to sell it. The denomination is cash-poor and in desperate financial need. They might sell the property to us, if they can get enough money to make it worthwhile to them. I don’t think that they are interested at all in those few people in our congregation who may want to continue together as a small congregation. I believe that those folk are just leverage, ultimately to be pressed to the limit for the PCUSA’s legal purposes—to get Kirk property in order to sell it.

Keep praying—keep the faith,
Tom

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tom,

Judging by the parking lot at Southminister Church at 5:10pm the EOP's attempt to rally the "true church" to a meeting failed miserably. It was observed that there were less than 15 cars in the parking lot and the only people entering the building were some women of that church that obviously knew each other. Also included in the group entering was Mr.Dodd and a representative of the EOP. No Kirk members were observed entering the building, although a few could have possibly slipped in without being noticed.
The "true church" met at 61st and Yale, at Kirk of the Hills.

Signed,

Man on the street


Signed,

Man on the street

Anonymous said...

there were less than 20 people at the service tonight including the eop stated clerk- ms. burke & the pastor from sand springs. there were also a few southminster members there.

Anonymous said...

Sick, sick, sick
I've felt for a long time you needed help. Now you are sending out spies to see what is going on.
When will you begin to act like a Christian?

TomGray said...

Dear anonymous,
I did not send anyone out. Obviously, out of the thousands of members at the Kirk there are those who were interested enough to check things out. Would you deny them that?
Tom

Larry said...

Based on a comment left on another posting, a recent member of Kirk received the letter from EOP. That indicates EOP has the most recent membership directory.

As EOP follows the script written by Louisville, the discovery process in this court case should prove interesting.

All of the correspondence, phone calls, emails, meetings, and directives from and between Louisville, Synod of the Sun, and EOP will be fair game for discovery.

Louisville may find that their secretive society is about to be exposed to the remaining 2.3 million members.

I recall a secret meeting with Louisville, the synods and the presbyteries in January 2006 regarding property. What was discussed at the meeting? What directives were handed out? How much money was spent by the synod and presbytery executives to attend that secret meeting?

Anonymous said...

Tom,

I could NOT belived my eyes this morning when I saw the ad in the Tulsa News advertising a special worship services for the Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church Sunday evenings in October at Southminster Presbyterian Church.

Who has ownership to church name?

Maybe we should have Sunday services for all Tulsa presbyterian members who are unhappy with the direction and leadership of the PUSA.

How can this position and action by the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery be the work of God loving christians?

Can we stop them from using the Kirk name?

Hang in there.

God bless you and all leaders and members of the Kirk.