Introduction Members on all sides of the issues. Discussions will be fair, civil, gracious. Purpose to provide an Orthodox view of the issues facing the PCUSA. A call to prayerful engagement.
Introduction Theological freedom within bounds. Tolerance we call forbearance. “Essential tenets”- Are said to be stated in the Confessions (F-2.04) but what is and is not essential, is left to the individual to ascertain “within bounds” (G-2.0105).
What Are We Doing? Currently not planning to leave the PCUSA Redirection of gifts Healthy Congregations
What Are We Doing? Adoption of local standards –Mission Statement, Goals and Objectives –Adopted the prior Book of Order (2009-2011) as a part of the Manual of Operations –Committee on Ministry (COM) adopted the same language –Essential Tenets as teaching tool. –Engagement with the denomination
Major Issues Prior to General Assembly 2012 6 Parts
Ordination – Part 1 Fidelity in marriage or chastity/ singleness. Ordination change? We do not yet know GAPJC (Parnell): Could rule Scripture and Confessions not changed; or Could determine interpretations changed. April 2012
Ordination – Part 1 NOTE: This issue presents itself in the context of homosexual behavior, but we should be clear that is not the issue! The issue is just as applicable to other UNREPENTED acts. The sin itself is not the issue as we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). The issue is the continuing un-repented insistence on calling blessed that which the scripture calls sinful, and thereby rejecting Scripture and the Confessions. It is the integrity of the truth of scripture at stake. It’s that freedom but “within boundaries” thing again.
Ordination – Part 1 Stockton Overture 1 Commitment to live a chaste and disciplined life, whether in holy marriage between a man and a woman, or in single life. (Book of Confessions 4.108; Heidelberg Catechism).
Ordination – Part 2 Kenyon Mandatory compliance to national standard Stockton Overture 2 – Freedom –Of Conscience for Sessions and Presbyteries –To maintain orthodox standard – From discipline action for orthodox view
Benefits Plan Pension Board voted to extend such benefits to same sex partners or civil marriages. No relief of conscience granted Stockton Overture 3 Reallocate a portion of the plan to a third party provider
Church/Presbytery Reorganization Union Church Stockton Overture 4 – session of a union congregation to decide for itself Union Presbytery Stockton Overture 5 – give the Union Presbytery the decision
Church/Presbytery Reorganization Non Geographic Presbyteries Mid-Council Commission San Francisco Presbytery has overtured to authorize the use of non-geographic presbyteries Eliminate the requirement for GA approval
Property Subject to the trust provisions of the Book of Order regardless of title. Generally, upheld by California civil courts Question of who owns the church property and less about the use of the property.
Property Presbyteries have been subject to collateral attack in the ecclesiastic and civil courts Power to Presbytery to decide among irreconcilable factions Never intended to grant authority to take the property from the congregation completely!
Property Stockton Overture 6 -Property being held primarily for the local congregation. – No Discipline for departing the PCUSA on t theological grounds by a vote of at least a 2/3 margin. Gracious Separation Policy
Marriage Redefining Christian marriage The issue comes to the 2012 GA in two forms. Marriage Definition change from a “man and a woman” to “two persons”. Conduct of marriage services – allow PCUSA pastors to perform same sex marriages.
Marriage What is an AI? = Authoritative Interpretation No future issue of constitutional import will be safe from a single GA declaration, including the substance of the Confessions. Stockton Overture 1
Expectations GAPJC may confirm that neither the Scripture nor the Confessions clearly forbid sexual conduct previously known as sinful as Christian orthodoxy has defined it for two millennia. The definition of Christian marriage may be changed either by direct constitutional amendment or by Authoritative Interpretation.
Expectations The Board of Pensions already decided to provide same sex partner or marriage benefit and tax the congregations to pay for it (no payment now). The Kenyon precedent may be reasserted on the issues of marriage and ordination to require compliance.
Expectations The GA may not restore the ordination standards or any of the relief of conscience requests. BUT – It might be ok. WE DO NOT KNOW YET. So pray, engage, wait, reassess.