Friday, September 05, 2008

Ask the Moderator: Denominational Future?

This question was posed by Beth
I have read/heard comments from people of influence in the PC(USA) talk about the possibility of the end of the PC(USA) as a denomination. Do you believe this is a real possibility? What, specifically, do you see as your role in preventing this? What are our roles as members of congregations? How can we calm the fears of those who believe we are splitting, and how are we, as a denomination, working to unite?
Thanks for asking this question, Beth, as I think there are certainly many folks for whom this is the question of focus. And of course there are many for whom, at this point, denominational health/unity is the least of their concerns. Not surprisingly as I have talked with folks in these brief few months is that we are of the same mind on few things, including the future of the denomination.

But since you asked ;-)

What I think is clear is that some part of our country's denominational/institutional life must die in order for future generations to have new life. Now we, those who have taught our children how to live well, we must also teach them how to die well. To embrace the end of a life stage with dignity, passion and confidence. The ways in which people interact, see the world, experience community, etc. have changed and the mechanics of how we operate as a national denomination, for the most part, has not. As I have said repeatedly, this is not political or theological, but simply a dramatic shift in the way people see themselves as part of a larger community. There was a time when denominational loyalty made sense and folks could buy into the idea and purpose of these highly structured institutions (congregational or national) because they served a purpose to act as a conduit of information, direction and service.

That time is gone.

Whether you embrace the changes in communication, technology and media or not, we can no longer pretend that these changes have no impact on our life as a church and denomination. We might be able to get away with ignoring the changes around us if we were walled off from those who live and breath this new world, but guess what . . . there is still something that draws them to the church universal and yes, the Presbyterian Church (USA). Like it or not, we have something to offer the world and I firmly believe that folks know it.

They are already here.

So this is where the future vitality, health and unity of the church lies. First, we must embrace and make room for those who are pushing us to see the world and church differently. And, second, those who feel a kinship to new ways of being church, we must step up and out into the fray in order to also teach and be taught. If we can find ways to do this, I have no doubt that we can become a denomination that is again as vibrant and meaningful as we have been in the past.

Lastly, you will notice that I have not given much space to the topic of "splitting" as I am not sure that is a good use of our energies at this point. And quite honestly, I do not want to spend my time trying to "convince" people to stay, go, wait, fight, win, etc. From what I have seen, people are having the conversations that need to be had with the people that need to have them and, in the end, folks will do as the Holy Spirit leads them. To believe otherwise, would discount the many who are engaging in faithful discernment about their spiritual and denominational journey.

Hope that is helpful. See you next month!

[merri-go-round image: anakdewa]


Ask the Moderator comes out every 1st Friday of the month. Please feel free to add your voice to the growing list of questions [HERE].

44 comments:

Old Guy said...

In your comments you state that as a church "So this is where the future vitality, health and unity of the church lies. First, we must embrace and make room for those who are pushing us to see the world and church differently. And, second, those who feel a kinship to new ways of being church, we must step up and out into the fray in order to also teach and be taught. If we can find ways to do this, I have no doubt that we can become a denomination that is again as vibrant and meaningful as we have been in the past." Personally, it's my observation that many of us, if not most of us, have made room for those who see the world differently. What I often fail to see is any embrace and understanding for an understanding of faith that has sustained many believers for years. I don't often experience or witness a like response from those who are 'pushing' the church to see the world differently. As a matter of fact 'pushing' is an excellent way to describe the often uncompassionate manner in which those from a progressive faith perspective act towards those from a more traditional background. We need to make room, Mr. Moderator, in our hearts and in our denomination not only for all those created in God's image. An era of faith and understanding may indeed be coming to a close, it would be encouraging to see some compassionate grief from the pushers as well as those being pushed. Quite frankly, from what I've seen and experienced, many of the pushers want nothing more than for those being pushed to simply go away.

What it means to be a denomination may indeed be changing, however, what it means to be one who loves neighbor as self (including those with whom we disagree); what it means to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep will never change. Please begin to show and express at least a little pastoral compassion in your blogs. Thank you

John Shuck said...

Please begin to show and express at least a little pastoral compassion in your blogs.

I think Bruce expresses pastoral compassion far more than most in the denomination.

Stushie said...

I think we need to set up a Sanctuary Synod for those who are feeling that they are been pushed out. Progressives talk about being inclusive, but only if dogmatics like myself are shown the door. if we are to become a church without wals or barriers, then their has to be a haven for those who adhere to the old traditional ways. Otherwise, we could end up being the church of Neimuller's nightmare.

John Shuck said...

I think we need to set up a Sanctuary Synod for those who are feeling that they are been pushed out

Sure! A sanctuary synod for you, the gays, and the heretics like me! All in one place! Sounds like the PCUSA.

Teri said...

As one who is a relatively recent (9 years) addition to the PCUSA, having grown up unchurched, I don't mean to be snarky but I really am curious, so please don't think I'm being rude when I ask...

...doesn't the "older" (or "previous") generation always end up feeling pushed out by the younger/newer one, whether that's what's intended or not?

...did Jesus or the early church set up a sanctuary for those who preferred the old way?

...if we truly believe that God is beyond our comprehension, is it possible that God's vision (including for inclusivity) is beyond our comprehension?

...whether we are "old" or "new" or "progressive" or "dogmatic" or whatever other label we either take on or have attached to us, is it even possible for us to have enough humility to make space for everyone? I am thinking about this in myself as well--it's good to be reminded that some might feel swept aside in a sea of change when others feel we are moving forward in our call.

Again, I don't mean to be snarky, I promise. I really am one of those people who wants to talk until we figure something out...

Sarahlynn said...

As am I.

Stushie said...

John, I'm being serious. If the church wants to reform, so be it, but if the church wants to be inclusively transformed, then a Synod for conservatives would be highly valued and a way out of this mess.

Reformed Catholic said...

Teri said: "...whether we are "old" or "new" or "progressive" or "dogmatic" or whatever other label we either take on or have attached to us, is it even possible for us to have enough humility to make space for everyone? I am thinking about this in myself as well--it's good to be reminded that some might feel swept aside in a sea of change when others feel we are moving forward in our call."

Teri,

you can have room, but unless there's a basis for having that sharing of space, then all you're going to wind up with is more of the same.

As it is, the basis for the space we are currently sharing is getting further and further away from what was once agreed upon.

And its not the 'older generation' saying this, there are many in the younger generation who are questioning what is currently going around as 'Polity'.

Chris Enoch said...

In my opinion, the only way out of this mess is for those churches who wish to proclaim the faith that was "once and for all delivered to the saints" to be able to gracefully leave without paying the ransom that some in leadership in the PCUSA demand.

A separate synod or presbytery model is unlikely to work because we will still have to accept a common constitution and each other's ordinations.

The moderator is wise to not spend energy in trying to convince people into staying. It hasn't been working anyway, as the PCUSA year after year keeps having massive losses. People have been leaving now for decades. But, Mr. Moderator, I would encourage you to embrace (and I would love to work with you on this) a way to foster a gracious separation. It is the reality theologically and emotionally already; it is time to it to happen officially.

Is there grace enough with all of us to allow it to happen decently and lovingly? I pray so.

God bless you,

Chris Enoch

B-W said...

Stushie said,
If the church wants to reform, so be it, but if the church wants to be inclusively transformed, then a Synod for conservatives would be highly valued and a way out of this mess.

I mean no disrespect when I say this, but it seems to me that allowing for a synod in which people of one particular mindset are allowed to sequester themselves off from divergent opinions is exactly the last thing the PC(USA) needs. We're trying to learn how to live together with our very different viewpoints. I don't see how your solution accomplishes that, but I see how it might accomplish exactly the opposite.

Reyes-Chow said...

Thank you all for such thoughful responses to the posting.

So much richness and areas of thought that there is plenty to spur on other posts.

"OLD GUY" - I am sorry that you heard me this way as this was as much of a challenge to MYSELF who is one of the oldest (age and institutionally) in the congregation I serve and to those who - and I respectfully disagree with you about the level of openness - have not truly made room for other. Again, I do try to balance prophet, priest, pastor approaches but understand that I will not always succeed.

That said, I found it interesting that the conversation immediately assumed that I was talking about a theological newness that needs to be heard, when in fact I was trying to reference a worldview shift that I think transcends theological perspective.

This is probably due to the fact that I have been very transparent about my thoughts on politics, ordination and other such things that folks might assume that all of my posts were to move forward some agenda. While in fact, I think we all do that to some extant, in this case my agenda is more about listening to the realities of a changing world so we can better embrace and/or reject that which falls outside of the bounds of our understanding of what it means to be a Christ-centered church governed by a Presbyterian polity.

And while again, we can all espouse a group/movement that will support our way of thinking, I have learned more about this new way of being from those who, I think would agree are on the other "side" of issues of ordination.

I would point you to the following folks who I think speak to this new way of being that I am sensing is gaining some footing for a future denominational reality.

Mark Roberts, "Why not just leave the PC(USA)" http://markdroberts.com/?p=561

Robert Austell, "Ichabod or scribbling on the Wall" http://robertaustell.blogspot.com/2008/07/ichabod-or-scribbling-on-wall.html

Letter from Young Fuller Evangelicals http://www.igeekrev.com/?p=172

John Schroeder, "Learning from the other" http://blogotional.blogspot.com/2008/09/learning-from-other.html

If you want more about why I think this is an institutional and worldview shift rather than a theological/political one, I posted something about it on my general blog a few weeks ago.

http://www.reyes-chow.com/2008/08/can-you-be-post.html

Now I of course could be totally off base here and in no way am I trying to say that theology is not important, but rather how our theology informs how we engage with one another should/could help us move forward.

Lastly to Chris - Now you are just trying to get me into trouble ;-) Seriously, I will foster open, transparent dialog that I hope will inform some of the ways folks will interact with each other - and I say this to both "sides" - but I am actually not sure that any kind of direct moderatorial action would actually be very helpful. Not that I am opposed or for any particular "plan" that is out there right now, but rather, my "street cred" right now has been built on encouraging conversations and listening to them in a way that might be helpful. There may indeed some a time for bold/er statements by me, but 2.5 months into my term, I do not think that time is now. But do know that I am doing my very best to listen to what is going on out there.

Anonymous said...

I'm for the sanctuary for people who have been forced out. I think some/most people don't understand how ugly these situations are and that a sanctuary is truly, truly needed, otherwise people are and will continue to be at risk.

Churches support people and when your church forces you out, your rug is pulled out from under you, you fall. There is no other way it happens. Someone needs to repair the resulting broken bones.

thanks for providing a place to discuss this Bruce.

ceemac said...

Stushie,

But what about the possibilty that for whatever reason that God has called You, Shuck, and me to minister in the same denomination in spite of or even becuase of our differnces.

And you'll have believe me when I say that from what I can tell I have substantial disagreements with both you and shuck.

Stushie said...

A Sanctuary Synod would offer a place to those who feel that their Presbyterian Christianity is being squeezed out of the church. It would keep congregations within the PCUSA and could be used as a vehicle to promote missions that we all could support.

The Sanctuary Synod could also send commissioners to each General Assembly, ensuring that the conservative voice is given a place. This would alleviate much of the angst and unrest that is taking part, and tearing us apart, right now.

Heather W. Reichgott said...

There is plenty of room for traditional theology in the PCUSA. There always has been.

There is also plenty of room for straight people.

What is ending is the ability that traditionalists and straight people have had for so long: to insist that everyone else think and act exactly as they do.

Traditionalists and straight people now find themselves in the same boat that many other Presbyterians have been in all our lives: having space at the table, just not being in charge of everything all the time.

I understand that the loss of privilege hurts a little bit. But we have to be able to tolerate it in order to be a big-tent denomination.

(And I'm saying this as someone who, theologically speaking, is very traditional.)

Stushie said...

But congregations ARE leaving our denomination, so the numbers at the table are diminishing. This keeps the table together, offering conservatives a recognized sanctaury within the denomination.

At the moment, they are going outside the denomination to form their own groups.

Tomorrow's lectionary devotion concentrates on this...

ceemac said...

Stushie,

You responded to my comment with another statement about your desire for a Sanctuary Synod.

So let me try again.

How does a "Sanctuary Synod" honor the possibilty that for whatever reason that God has called You, Shuck, and me to minister in the same denomination in spite of or even becuase of our significant differnces.

Heather W. Reichgott said...

And how many congregations' worth of LGBT people have left the church since the 1970s?

And how many people from all walks of life will we gain, when we clearly refuse to teach hatred for LGBT people?

ty said...

So l"m playing catch-up in the conversation at this level - so please bear with me - I'll try to use different language so as to not hit automatic hot buttons - but I will try to hit some buttons. Up to now I had thought the bru-ha-ha had really been about right/wrong actions vs loving people. Loving people was the more mature christian response based on grace, not being bound by the law, using Logos to introduce/identify Christ in John 1, and a "you without sin cast the first stone" understanding of Christ's work in the world (there are a lot more examples - but these 4 should suffice). From Marks Blog referenced I get stay because the local church is so good ( I read my own history into it which translates as where else shall I go - this is where I find the words of eternal life - anything less boarders on "identity based" social club stuff- but I can get that cheaper and with less strings attached at the local bar - think "Cheers"). From Bruce and correct me if I've misstated or misunderstood - denom identity doesn't mean much these days (agrees with Mark?), and the PCUSA will be restructured to more efficiently adapt to reach a changed global market (actually thats a quote from the CEO of the company I work for sub in "Company name" for PCUSA). The difference seems to be the restructuring will be a bottom up rather than top down exercise. I've been in several companies that have restructured over the last bunch of years-the most painful ones are those that drag out in discussions and conversations.

I'm inclined to believe change is always needed - the old adage "the church reformed always reforming", and would caution that todays issue is tomorrows status quo needing to be reformed rather than upheld as a model (for a reference watch footage of the 68 democratic convention). Learn from history and my generations mistakes, don't repeat them. Don't think for a moment that this movement and global understanding will not have a fast following reforming movement cause this movement marginalizes another group- the reform will be led by todays kids, and this is good. Like the social clubs we fail when anyone changes the conversation from I belong to XYZ to XYZ belongs to me - yes I've had that conversation on both sides of this ongoing reorganization.

If your still with me and reading this - thanks! I often try to return to the Lord's prayer in difficult times and pay most attention to the pronouns - 9 references to we, us or our, 9 references to God, 1 reference to them and only in the context of forgiveness, and not a single reference to me, my or I.

PS in a denomination of 2 Million why only dozen and a half or so posts?

Stushie said...

Ceemac, I answered your question. If you don't like the answer, then there's nothing else I can add to our conversation. God bless.

Reyes-Chow said...

Ty - Thanks for chiming and trying to get all caught up.

First - Why not so many responses? One, most folks who have some sort of buy-in to the PC(USA) don't engage via blogs (not that this weakens/softens our voice or limits the impact of our profound words ;-) and two, I think most people who do read blogs don't comment so we are in many ways simply informing readership.

Second, in response to your assessment of my statement I would agree BUT some slight clarifications,

"From Bruce and correct me if I've misstated or misunderstood - denom identity doesn't mean much these days (agrees with Mark?), and the PCUSA will be restructured to more efficiently adapt to reach a changed global market (actually thats a quote from the CEO of the company I work for sub in "Company name" for PCUSA)."

I would further clarify that generally speaking CURRENT denominational structure may not be as attuned to cultural realities, BUT a FUTURE denominational identity (beyond simply restucturing) is vital and important. Working out the WHATS and HOWS is where we are right now, but I believe moving towards something new.

Hope that helps.

Bruce

Mark Smith said...

I'm late to the party, but I do want to address Stushie's idea of a separate Synod.

Stushie - what would be different about that Synod. Would it operate under the same Constitution? Would it be able to ignore certain rules and/or pass its own stricter rules?

Why is a separate Synod different than a separate denomination? Is it better because we keep the same name? Is it better because it has less risk for those who want to leave (pension, benefits)? Is it better because it makes it easier to do some things together? Is it better because it avoid the overhead of two denominational offices?

ty said...

just to be sure I got "it" ie what is happening to our denomination. By a New Testament Biblical analogy we are moving from the Aramaic and Hebrew patristic ecclesia of the original 12 disciples in Jerusalem, to engaging the whole of the world in Athens (Think Paul on Mars Hill) and Rome, necessitating the use of Greek and Latin over Hebrew (the "new language" thing), and not allowing the culture (some may read sin) of those cities and people to be a stumbling block for the gospel? Even to the point of equating the Hebrew verb Yahweh with the Greek philosophical noun Logos as in John 1? Even to the point of the evangelist Paul having heated arguments with the disciple Peter over requirements of new Greek believers to adhere to Jerusalem rules? And those who want to stay in Jerusalem are encouraged and welcome to do so?

If thats the case - then the future organization/denomination identity will require entirely different gift sets focused to evangelism and constant rapid change, rather than those gifts needed to maintain a Christendom that doesn't exist anymore except in small geographical pockets, or - we'll just repeat this pain in a couple years.

Is that it more or less?

If it is then I'm REALLY EXCITED !!

But If its just a changing of the old guard for the new guard (think of the Band THE WHO - "meet the new boss same as the old boss - we won't be fooled again" ) in a perceived Christendom - count me out, its to much agony for something that trivial

Stushie said...

Mark, the Sanctaury Synod would be a means of keeping everyone in the PCUSA, instead of this war of attrition that is ruining the whole church.

As for benefits and pensions, most of them are vested, so whether some of us stay or leave the denomin, the pensions are protected.

However, if conservatives get pushed out and are asked to leave without pension, property, etc, then so be it. My sufficiency comes from God, not from the PCUSA or any other denomination.

Clay Allard said...

Ty has his finger on what you were going for, doesn't he, Bruce? But, as the comments show, and as you in your own response note, there is another conflict going on at the same time that is just as hot, has been left to fester just as long, and is crying out for solution just as loud.
This comment stream is the best demonstration of our problem I have seen yet. You can see all three festering sores oozing everywhere: the lack of love, trust and respect between presbyters; the long-outdated structure for a church with no mission (see Darrell Guder's article on the PC(USA)website
http://www.pcusa.org/re-formingministry/papers.htm#marks
and the theological dispute which gets all the blazing lights and attention.
Notice how each one of these longstanding problems, left unameliorated, as grown to such a size that it feeds the others.
By not putting out some of these fires when they were small, these three have turned into a firestorm.
How about we try to solve one of these three? Bruce, if you want to start on the structural one, I'm with you. By helping, I and we can start to put the trust problem to bed if there truly is a place for everyone at the table.
But what Stushie is saying is-- the firestorm can't be knocked down with just one hose anymore. It's grown too big.
And because this is a complex and huge institution, where Stushie is, that may be the reality.
So how do we tackle this complex set of unresolved issues in this huge, complex institution?
TRUST. Trust Christ if you can't trust your brother-- reach across divides. Jesus did it all the time.
BE HONEST. Half of the issue in each of our problems has been a lack of willingness to tackle the issue straight-on. That's how each one got so big-- everyone's been afraid of them. Let's get honest about what we see, and take in other views, and construct a composite that perhaps can give us some guidance on what to do.
ONE PROBLEM AT A TIME. Try to sort out what is what; for example, committed progressives and committed evangelicals often have the same frustrations with this 1950's GM institution; there is common ground to work there, as long as each commits to work on the common ground.
We could get a lot done, Bruce-- why wait? 2 1/2 months in seems like a good time to start, to me.

John Shuck said...

Pretty abstract conversation. Firestorms and hoses. 1950s GM Institution. What?

I'll be honest. I would find it difficult to be motivated to create a special sanctuary for traditionalists whoever they are.

Stushie, what is your presbytery, the one next door to mine, keeping you from doing at your church? Do you need to be in a special sanctuary apart from them? That can't be it. Maybe you aren't talking about you. Maybe you are talking about some other church in some other presbytery that is forbidden to do its ministry.

From my vantage point I don't see congregations forbidden by their presbyteries to do ministries they want to do or being forced to do ministries they do not want to do.

Isn't doing ministry the point?

ty said...

Just crunching some numbers from the PCUSA web site:

http://www.pcusa.org/clc/statistics/snapshot.htm

- as of 2006, there are about 2800 inquirers and candidates pursuing ordination, there are about another 2600 folks ordained but not retired, not serving in validated ministry. There are about 11000 churches currently being served by about 13,600 ordained ministers - am I looking at potential unemployment rate of 30% - 50% ?

So there is a back log of about 7400 folks committed enough to Presby leadership to pay $ for seminary and go through the process.

Now I am really confused - What is the vision for putting these 7400 to service? It seems to me that NCDs of all types; emergent, conservative, urban rural, etc etc. are the answer, not just line up and compete for the diminishing # of CIFs and churches out there.

It seems that history has chosen the moderator - who has such a background . . . there is a need, there are resources, and there is a will and drive. If the hesitation is salary driven then make tents for a living (back to the Paul thing) and get these NCDs moving and stop this nonsense. I guess that brings us back to the vision for restructuring and how to organize for the future?

Stushie said...

John, the presbytery that I belong to deals with churches equitably. Since the church that I serve is growing in the midst of an area where presbyterian churches are declining, the presbytery deals with us favorably.

Some presbyteries, however, do not do this. Letters have been sent out to ministers and sessions warning them about speaking about separation and schism. A veiled threat of removing pastors and taking property is implied. What I am proposing is a National Sanctuary Synod where conservative churches can meet at least once a year, instead of being part of outside groups that want to tear the denomination apart.

Gay people have More Light churches within the denomination, so why can't conservative churches have a Sanctuary Synod?

Mark Smith said...

So ....

The Sanctuary Synod is not a structure within the PCUSA - it's a separate group. Just like More Light Presbyterians is a separate group.

Right?

I can agree with that, but don't we already have groups filling that function?

I'd also note that simply being a More Light church hasn't given those congregations any immunity from charges against them. If anything, they are more of a target when they take an action contrary to the Book of Order than a church that quietly takes the same action.

Sarahlynn said...

Stushie,

Your idea for a Sanctuary Synod would be a a coalition of congregations and individuals in the PC(USA) more like More Light, Confession Church Movement, and Covenant Network than an actual Synod, e.g. The Synod of Mid-America, Synod of the Mid-Atlantic, etc.?

How would it differ from CCM?

Sarahlynn said...

I meant "Confessing Church Movement," CCM. My apologies for the typo. Baby on lap.

Heather W. Reichgott said...

A clarification--More Light churches do not break off into separate presbyteries or synods. They remain in their home presbyteries and synods, sending commissioners, serving on committees, contributing mission dollars. There has never been a schismatic movement of any kind from the More Light side. Identifying as a More Light church means putting out a welcome mat--it doesn't mean separating from the Presbyterian Church or forming a separate structure within the church.

As for other organizations within the Presbyterian Church, a number of them exist already, including conservative organizations the Coalition, PFR, the Layman etc.

(PS Sarah--hurray for typing with a baby on the lap :)

B-W said...

It seems to me that one assumption that should be addressed/challenged is the extent to which it is true that "more traditional" churches/pastors are indeed being "pushed out" by more "open" bodies, and how much of that "pushed out" feeling is simply the inability of "more traditional" Presbyterians to accept being a part of the same body as those they disagree with.

For example, one complaint I've heard a few times is the fact that those are disagree with the ordination of practicing homosexuals would be "forced" to recognize the ordinations of such people as valid within the PC(USA). But if the problem really is that the "more traditional" group simply cannot accept that (should it become reality, remember that it hasn't just yet), it seems to me that they're pushing themselves out. They're not being pushed out by those who advocate for the full acceptance of gays and lesbians.

Stushie said...

b-w, it's like being inside a heavy press...all of your cherished patterns of faith are being crushed. It may be of light concern to other people, but to my conservative brothers and sisters, it is a heavy burden to bear.

It would be so easy to capitulate and give up everything; it would be a lot easier to see the church going down the tubes and say "I told you so." I'm just trying to find a positive alternative to all of this useless, senseless, and wasteful attrition.

ty said...

So Bruce said :

"So this is where the future vitality, health and unity of the church lies. First, we must embrace and make room for those who are pushing us to see the world and church differently. And, second, those who feel a kinship to new ways of being church, we must step up and out into the fray in order to also teach and be taught. If we can find ways to do this, I have no doubt that we can become a denomination that is again as vibrant and meaningful as we have been in the past.

In all the conversation over the last several days has anyone begun to discuss how their proposals and solutions will make the PCUSA meet the "mission" outlined above, has anyone agreed, disagreed, called to task, or even asked what does "vibrant and meaningful" or the mission mean? Or how that might translate between Hispanic, Philipino, caucasian, LGBT, and the multitudes of cultures we used call a melting pot? Or are we the PCUSA simply looking to continue validation our individual cultures, and our debate is which culture to bless and which culture to shun - 'cause clearly they are antithetical to each other. Here's a hint - the church can't bless and validate the culture, be it modern, postmodern or something else - no matter how much it accepts and participates in it.

So when Bruce referenced the "new ways of being" comment I thought of what Tillich said all those years ago "The ontological essence of being is the absence of non-being" - So to play on words; what non-being exists around you, your church, and your culture, and what will you do to make it absent? another hint - its something other than you and your cultural perspective, be it conservative or LGBT in our current discussion.

So to each post I would ask, where will your position or suggestion lead to ten years from now. Does it meet the mission introduced above? Or do you disagree with the mission entirely. If so what do you propose?

Viola said...

I'm coming to this posting really late so if no one responds I understand.

Stushie I have been blogging on the "free synod" movement of the Confessing Church in Germany, looking at possibilities for the future. You might be interested. First The Church within a Church: a Possibility & The Church with in a Church: Free Confessional Synods as Witness.

Bruce,
A question, How can a worldview be different than your theology? It seems to me that for a Christian they would both at least have to agree with each other.

Viola said...

Well, as usal I did something wrong the links don't work. So go here http://naminghisgrace.blogspot.com/2008/09/church-within-church-possibility.html and here http://naminghisgrace.blogspot.com/2008/09/church-within-church-free-confessional.html.

Reyes-Chow said...

Ty - Good questions and pushback. Not sure I can answer all of them here. Do you blog? Can you create new post and I'll help get some traffic to you for some discussion on this idea. I think we are now up to almost 40 comments on this one so the conversation may get even MORE dispersed.

Viola - Great question as well. Would you be willing to start a new post posing the questions around Worldview and Theology?

Bruce

Viola said...

Bruce,
let me think on that one for a while. As I stated I am in the middle of a series--but it might be interesting to post on worldviews and theology down the road. I will let you know when I post. thanks for asking.

ty said...

OK Bruce; Kept same format as before lectionary reading with reflection, but Blog is revised in content to focus on this type of discussion buuuut I'll tie your comments to the daily lectionary reading with a reflection relating the two. I'll take quotes from Blogs, or you can send me something if you like just click on the blue ty next to this post or go to www.morningwakeup.blogspot.com

Owner said...

Ask the Moderator: Denominational Future?


This question was posed by Beth


I have read/heard comments from people of influence in the PC(USA) talk about the possibility of the end of the PC(USA) as a denomination. Do you believe this is a real possibility? What, specifically, do you see as your
role in preventing this? What are our roles as members of congregations? How can we calm the fears of those who believe we are splitting, and how are we, as a denomination, working to unite?

You answer, in part:

"First, we must embrace and make room for those who are pushing us to see the world and church differently"

My simple question is "why?' If some would consciously choose to push others to see the world and church from an unbiblical perspective why "must" the church we embrace and make room for that perspective?

Reyes-Chow said...

Glen - Thanks for the questions. If you take a look at my first response,I think to make the assumption that this is a theological push is a little off the mark. Again, I address it in the long line of comments (about 10 deep) linking to some of my friends who are not of the same theological mind that we are together thinking about new ways of being church. Bruce

dumbsheep said...

Sounds like a lot of "happy talk" to me. Sort of like the orchestra playing as the Titanic sunk. Interesting that there is very little if any mention of Jesus in this discussion about "the denomination." I was in Istanbul last year. I bet those who built the Hagia Sophia never imagined that it would become a mere tourist site. We all need to give up the quest for power and influence and begin to follow our Lord Jesus Christ.

Reyes-Chow said...

Dumbsheep - Thanks for taking the time to comment and certainly agree that sometimes this feels inconsequential. Still, I would push back to say that I think the underlying commonality for many of the folks who have commented would be the acknowledgment that no denomination can SAVE us, but only Christ Jesus. Now what role should the denomination play and exactly how we live out that gift of grace is certainly part of the debate, but I would caution against a surface litmus testing of language to determine the validity of the discourse. Bruce