Thursday, September 22, 2005

Understanding the PCUSA

We live in interesting times.
My church is a member of a demonination that is a set of Siamese twins, one that is alive, connected to one who is dead. That may be the best way to understand our situation. We cannot live on our own, we are a tiny finger on the living body, will separation come in time for life? All we can do is pray, and work to keep the living body alive.
There are over 1300 confessing churches in the PCUSA. Enough to make a strong living denomination, a place where essentials would be followed, not buried.

The most important issue in understanding most mainline denominations is property. In the PCUSA, the local church does not own its property, or so the story goes. Section G-8.0201 of our Book of Order, says:
"All property held by a particular church…is held in trust nevertheless for the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)." Most people, and the demonination leadership, has taken this to mean you can't leave the demonination with your property, it belongs to the demonination. There are some court cases coming up that indicate that California and other States courts may not agree. This is very important. If churches can leave with property intact, the PCUSA may soon implode.

Our Presbytery wants a copy of our Articles of Incorporation. When I asked the Presbytery Stated Clerk why, he indicated they wanted to prepare should anyone try to leave. When I asked the church secretary, she had no idea if we even had a copy. San Gabriel Presbytery has appointed a "task force" to go to each church and get copies. I wonder if that is the next step here?

Is this schism?

We live in interesting times.

Pray for those Hurricane Rita is about to visit.
As a Calvinist, I know God is in charge. Maybe the question should be: Is he trying to get our attention?

Read Judges 2:14-15.

There are about 40 major U.S. cities vulnerable to various "acts of God".


Blogger Apostle John said...

Strange that a Presbytery would take that kind of action. Makes me wonder what is going on in the congregation or the presbytery that leads them to think there are going to be departures.

Blogger PresbyPoet said...

Apostle John,
The current court case in Southern California is scaring the liberal leadership. There is a good chance that if a church's articles of incorporation do not say that the property is owned by the presbytery, that a church can leave without paying ransom to leave.

At least that is what the Torrence case may indicate. Have you heard anything about it?

The reason that they may think people might want to leave is that about 12 churches in the presbytery don't pledge anything to the mission budget, as a sign they do not trust the denomination. Many ministers don't show up at Presbytery meetings, because they consider them useless.

As an elder who appreciates the importance of being part of a wider denomination that actually cared about others, and didn't treat evangelicals as a colony to be exploited, what I have learned about the PCUSA as I have been involved in our local presbytery makes me weep. I know how Jesus felt as he wept for Jerusalem.

Blogger Apostle John said...

I'll have to catch up on my reading of what is happening in California. I had heard of the Torrence case.

Most of the time Presbyteries let congregations leave with property if that is the desire of the congregation. Part of the pain comes when a majority want to leave and take the property, but a very substantial minority want to remain in their church and in their denomination. It is never a clean and easy process for anyone.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home