Thursday, March 03, 2005

pcusa split in the future?

05-Letter from L. Rus Howard - March 1, 2005, 2005

i found this letter via A Religious Liberal Blog and i am torn.

so there's a presbytery, clearly upset over the GA's stance on GLBT issues, calling for a split (read that second to last paragraph - legal action!!). i just started reading our Constitution and there's stuff in there about each leading according to our conscience. so, i guess they're taking action according to their consciences.

but...this doesn't seem a very presbyterian way of solving conflict. you know...isn't conflict resolution supposed to float upward in an orderly manner? First session then presbytery, then synod then General Assembly?

or is this young deacon ignorant of protocol?


kissyme said...

when i was younger, the presbyterian church i went to split because the issues weren't resolved in the ways that they should have been. it has been the most damaging thing i've ever seen happen to a church community. i don't think we realize when we don't work through our differences and 'divorce' ourselves, we have to deal with the emotional consequences of that choice.
i think also that living in a post modern society there are younger generations who wrestle against the older on issues like this. i think the world and at times the boomers communicate (on purpose or not i'm not sure) a disregard for
authority on moral issues. There are dangers in everybody doing right in their own eyes. There is a balance that needs to be found in these issues, but the bottom line is that there can never be a true resolution because one party or the other is not going to be content in the resolution.
Anyway, I don't think you are ignorant. I think you've got more sense than a lot of older people on a lot of leadership roles in different churches.

Chris T. said...

I dunno, the things we're seeing in the Anglican Communion are just Not Supposed To Happen either, but they're happening anyway. For all the lip service they give to "tradition," anti-GLBT conservatives seem to be pretty unbothered by throwing all the more tolerant parts of it to the wind in the interests of shaping the church in their own image.

LutheranChik said...

The ELCA is having its own internal struggles regarding the full inclusion of G/L members into the life of the Church, and as someone personally invested in the outcome I'm in a kind of full-body clench as we prepare to hash things out this summer. "May you live in interesting times" indeed.

BTW: Hi, ChurchGal! I linked to your blog from Feminary...come check out my blog sometime. I'm in a three-year diaconal program (that's not what they call it, but it's what it is) of the ELCA, to empower laypeople to serve churches in underserved rural and urban areas. Right now we're studying the Pentateuch...the weekend I have a "skill day" on the theme Teaching as Ministry...I'm reading Bonhoeffer, some refresher material on the basics of Lutheran theology and "Listening Hearts," a book about vocational discernment in the faith community. It's a very rigorous program, and I'm impressed that the ELCA has invested so much in training us. Anyhow...check out my blog. Nice to meet you!

ding said...

i come from the baptist tradition and we are famous for splitting, ad infinitum, over issues big and small.

in fact, my father resigned his original pastorate because of an internal schism. he never fully recovered because of it and the orignal church he broke from eventually died.

i've always thought the spiritual community was exactly that - a community. how can we call ourselves that when we can't resolve our differences?

(and, yes, these are major differences, but are they more important issues than who we are fundamentally as people of faith?)

jesus chick said...

ding - are you upset over the potential split, the GA's stance on GLBT, or both? what is their stance, by the way. i am not well versed on the presbyterian gig.

ding said...

jesus chick -

since i belong to the church the letter mentions (the one with the covenant network, that was formed to bridge understanding between our GLBT members and others) i'm pretty confident that the proposed boycott will cause a momentary blip. (it doesn't hurt that my pastor is the moderator for the GA, as well.)

so i'm not upset, per se. i'm puzzled. again, it comes back to that important instruction christ gives to his disciples when bringing the gospel. go into the towns and leave your message; if it is rejected, leave the town and shake the dust from your feet. the spirit of that text (gently impart the gospel and then leave it to the community's individual conscience to accept it or not) isn't really displayed here.

and, having just gone through classes on how the strength of the presbyterian church lies in the way we conduct ourselves and how we govern disputes, this seems very un-presbyterian. there is an order to things and they don't seem very willing to go through the process.

ding said...

and another thing...

if we aren't willing to go through the process of dispute resolution, then we might as well be baptists...

Anonymous said...

i think that you are wise to be wrestling with this. we are the future leaders and we need to know how to resolve these things that are honoring to God and to each other. no matter where one stands on the issue, the most important thing is to go through the process in an honoring way. the other side of the coin here, though, is to realize that by going through the process we need to respect the outcome of the process. what i see in the pcusa is that instead of people respecting the outcome of the process, and moving on together, the first things they think about is how to 'win' it next year. i'm not sure which is a more difficult thing to wrestle with.

ding said...


the measured and thoughtful way presbyterians resolve conflict is the main reason i joined this church - and why i'm glad to be a deacon in it. i've known people in the covenant network and it does great work - it's not all about sexuality, either - it's about reconciliation at all levels: race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity.

it's interesting that some of our congregations get all weirded out about stuff like that.

AND another thing: i think it's highly significant that when most mainline churches are seeing their congregations shrink our church (with its problematic mission of inclusion and all) has seen its membership grow by leaps and bounds.