Line in the Sand
The ongoing question these days seems to be… what shape will our denomination have in the future? Are we going to circle the wagons? Jump ship because we do not like where this is headed? Stay and fight for the denomination that we grew up with? Or something else? Clearly the line is drawn in the sand for some Presbytery’s and Churches. What is going to happen in the next year or so, I believe is going to rock the denomination to its core. At the current time the Presbyterian Coalition has the voting results on changing the wording in the ordination standards as 58-43. This is still with a number of Presbytery’s left to vote (such as mine).
What does this mean? Already we have seen the letters from a proposed new Presbyterian Fellowship and the counter in the Next Church Conference. In the past month my twitter feed has been ablaze with the voting results from different Presbytery’s as the results were announced and comments on such. Easily it can be said that tensions on all sides of this issue is rising. Some are seeing victory in sight and others are discussing options if the vote does not go their way. Regardless of which side is gains the majority of votes, we will see a shift in our denomination. For too long we have embroiled ourselves in the “big church” (aka the denomination) that we have not had a renewed sense of what OUR MISSION is? Is it to win political/ theological victories at the denominational level or is it something else? What are non-Presbyterian’s seeing or sensing about our church?
The future, if we choose the non-scorched earth policy (otherwise know as if I cannot win, no one will) is full of possibilities. In the past few years I have seen the renewed vigor of churches as they have looked at their purpose and sensed that it needs to be changed. Will the denominational politics cause the denomination to split? Who knows, but what I do know is that the church is being led in a time of change. We are asked to let go of what we have always done and embrace what God has called us to. I do not believe that the PCUSA as we know it is the box that we are confined to, but we are to evolve and engage one another in with God leading the way. The road is going to be bumpy and a few may not stay on our course but we need to have faith in what we believe theologically. Not jumping off at the first sign of something that we do not like.
A new generation of leaders are arising. They are not all in their twenties and thirties, but are rethinking the way that we have always done church. As these new leaders take shape and become more cohesive, I am excited to see where they will lead this denomination. What will their solutions be to the many problems in our small churches, evangelism, worship, and multiculturalism. But what are we doing to support, nurture, and develop them. They are coming out of contexts that are vastly different that the ones the previous and current generation of clergy had. Do we stifle their learning due to lack of flexibility of our seminaries or do not help shape them to lead in our churches? A time of change is coming. Our new clergy could be all Commissioned Lay Pastors, that have no formal seminary education, and serve small congregations to survive. Or other creative avenues that we are led to.
The future is promising… as long as we do not get caught up in ourselves and remember the point. The point is:
Christ calls the Church into being, giving it all that is
necessary for its mission to the world, for its building up, and
for its service to God. Christ is present with the Church in both
Spirit and Word. It belongs to Christ alone to rule, to teach, to
call, and to use the Church as he wills, exercising his authority
by the ministry of women and men for the establishment and
extension of his Kingdom.
G-1.0100b (Book of Order)