“Hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown…”
(Rev. 3:11 ESV)
Today has been a difficult day. Yesterday, the presbytery of Twin Cities cast the 87th vote in favor of Amendment 10-A to the Book of Order which removes the “fidelity and chastity” clause from the requirements for ordination, and replaces it with a call for each ordaining body to determine how it will be guided by the confessions and Scriptures in setting the standard for ordination. While the motion does not explicitly say it, it was put forward for the purpose of opening the way for the ordination of self-affirming, unrepentant homosexual men and women who feel called to ordained ministry as Minister of Word and Sacrament, Elder, and/or Deacon.
There are those who are rejoicing over this decision, and there are those who are weeping. Those who rejoice see this a step closer to full inclusion and participation of all people in the church. One can imagine that next will come the requirement that presbyteries and sessions receive candidates for ordination regardless of their sexual preference, followed by a comprehensive and coordinated attempt to redefine for the church the covenant of marriage. Those who weep feel this is a rejection of the historic principles of the Christian faith, one more concession to the influence of a sinful culture, and fundamentally, a rejection of the authority of Scripture and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Despite all attempts by the leadership of the denomination to tell us otherwise, this decision will be the watershed event that leads to the absolute demise of what we know now as the PC(USA).
This is a difficult time to be Presbyterian if you disagree with this action. Leaders of the denomination ask that you “learn to live into this decision,” which I think is politically correct for “deal with it.” Some who are reading and learning of this for the first time will be saddened, shocked, and ready to pull their membership from the church immediately – and no amount of posturing and patronizing from Louisville will assuage your feelings.
And let me say that I know how you feel. I celebrate (if I can use that word) my 10th anniversary of ordination this month, and I am terribly conflicted. I always told myself (for this debate has been going on in the church as long as I have been alive), that if this ever passed, I would be done with the PC(USA). However, now that I am here, serving Christ in a congregation that I love, knowing that God has called me to be faithful, even when the denomination is not, the issue is not so black and white. I know that this congregation needs a pastor who understands the times and knows what to do. I have been called to shepherd this church while I follow the Good Shepherd, Christ our Lord. So I am resolved to stay with you, as long as you will have me.
Please know, the Session of Memorial Presbyterian and I have been resolute in our opposition to this motion, which we feel leads the church further away from its faithful witness to the holiness and righteous lives that God has called us to in faith through Christ Jesus our Lord. We continue to provide every opportunity for the proclamation of God’s great love for us in Jesus Christ; a love which was demonstrated perfectly in that Christ came for us while we were still sinners; a love which gives us new life that we may no longer walk in darkness but in light; a love which strengthens us to walk in holiness and peace with God.
Please know that if you have questions or concerns about this, or any of the recent decisions of the denomination, you can call or email me or the members of the Session. We are prayerfully considering what it will mean to be faithful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will look like from this point forward, and will do everything we can to preserve the ministry and work of this wonderful congregation. I urge you to be steadfast in your prayers; for the Session, for your pastor, and for the denomination, that God’s will might be done in our midst, and that we will be found good and faithful stewards of the mystery of His grace.