The question of the graciousness of so-called “gracious dismissal policies” is now being tested nationwide.
In Los Ranchos Presbytery five churches were dismissed in May after satisfying every requirement of the presbytery’s process. Remedial charges were then filed with the synod in all five cases alleging that the presbytery did not sufficiently defend the interests of the denomination.
The Los Ranchos policy was developed after the Toms decision and the terms of every dismissal took into account the value of the church property, mission giving and per capita. The terms total more than $6 million (with more than $11 million in the pipeline for the presbytery from agreements reached to date). But apparently that is not enough. In California, those who want to strip departing congregations of their assets have the secular court’s defacto deference method in their favor. They know that the law does not require them to be gracious; so gracious they shall not be.
Another three churches were dismissed June 28 and now expect remedial complaints to be filed and a stay to be issued by the synod. During the floor debate about dismissing the churches to ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, the truth was unmasked. A presbyter alleged that the whole thing was a “hostile takeover by ECO of millions of dollars of church property.”
So much for ECO’s original hopes of an amicable departure of congregations from the Presbyterian Church (USA). There has been an observable change in the approach that presbyteries are taking to churches seeking dismissal. And I see the dismissal door closing, and closing hard.
The clearest evidence is in places like Tropical Florida which dismissed several churches very graciously and then had a dramatic change of heart. This is the presbytery that overtured the General Assembly to have clergy who leave the denomination stripped of their pension benefits. Even more recently they acted to allow a small Cuban-American congregation to go but required a 100 percent payment for all assets.
This new hard line approach is laid out in a letter addressed to all PCUSA presbyteries from Tropical Florida Presbytery transitional presbyter, Amalie Ash. In it she admits that the approach she is advocating is both “hard” and “ungracious.” But she proceeds to lash out against ECO and calls presbyteries to resist dismissing congregations to what she views as an “attack on the denomination.”
The letter is reprinted here in its entirety without edit.
June 12, 2014
To: Mid Council Leaders and Stated Clerks
From: Amalie Ash, Transitional Presbyter – Tropical Florida Presbytery
This letter is to encourage you and your presbytery to reconsider church dismissals. The Presbytery of Tropical Florida is encouraging you to consider the long range implications of this current trend; the impact on the dismissed congregations, the challenge to replace worshiping centers and the growth of a historic and relevant denomination.
In 2011, our leadership in Louisville was aware that the PCUSA would lose a percentage of churches. The Stated Clerk speaking at the San Diego Financial meeting estimated 10% to 13% would leave. I do not believe the leadership envisioned the largest, wealthiest and historic churches to be fodder for a new domination.
In 2012, Tropical Florida experienced the dismissal of ten churches, nine to the newly formed ECO. We have had a heighten awareness of the dismissal process unfolding around the country. When you observe it in-total and merely count churches, the numbers reflect low impact on the denomination. However, when you consider the membership, the property values, the per capita, mission giving, support for programs and missionaries, the careers in Louisville, the channel for new ministers and support for seminaries you see that the loss is much larger than the double digit number of churches. The departing churches may have withheld per capita but they supported many aspects of the denomination.
Have you consider the challenge of planting a new church? Around the USA, local governments are denying permits for new churches; new church plants cannot rent a dilapidated 7-11 in South Florida. In some areas we are denied permits for religion/non-profits to gather. Recently, a mega church agreed to pay property tax in order to buy a new building. The property is our heritage. It is where generations had a vision for Presbyterians to have a presence. A place for those seeking a reform tradition could worship. Even if you do not have a mission for a property, it is a resource for the Presbytery.
Presbyteries are fighting this with no support from GA. Each Presbytery is individually trying to solve the problems of dismissal, property and maverick pastors; each one is reinventing the same wheel. Presbyteries feel they have to let their churches go. Presbyteries need to know that they can stop this attack on our denomination.
The ECO leadership hails from Tropical Florida. We have observed their strategy being implemented in your presbyteries. Our denomination is be being dissected by their successful well-orchestrated strategy that aids a church pastor(s) and a few key elders to project an inaccurate picture of the PCUSA and its spiritual beliefs. Pastors encourage elders to take the lead. Elders are carefully schooled to focus on inaccuracies such as the PCUSA no longer believes Jesus Christ is the head of the church. They are cautious to avoid any reference to the changes in ordination, lest they offend their progressive members. To the person in the pew, these claims are highly charged; they trust their leaders and pastors are telling the truth. Thus the trusting congregation is easily swayed.
Tropical Florida was gracious. We believed that our congregations had discerned their beliefs and that we needed to provide a gracious exit for them. It was after, that we realized the pastors were in collusion, that churches were using the same “play book”, using the same sound bites, and had a strategy to leave in mass with a voting bloc. Recently we have learned that cradle Presbyterians regret they are no longer in the PCUSA; that they feel duped. The ECO strategy to take our churches understands that we will be nice, polite, avoid legal challenges and let the churches go.
ECO is an under-resourced collection of now independent churches. ECO is built on the PCUSA Book of confessions, PCUSA 2009 Book of Order, our church properties and our unknowing members.
• In Miami, a small (under 100 members) church went to ECO in 2012. Their pastor, upon learning he could not stay in the Board of Pensions and could not have his PIF in the PCUSA, changed his mind and stayed. (Now severing in UCC). ECO promised they had many pastors to fill the pulpit. After two years, the church’s pulpit was still empty. Finally, a PCA Church plant, supported by NYC Redeemer, negotiated a plan for this Miami church. Today the church is a PCA plant that now has an affiliate relationship with ECO. ECO told the church that if three ECO members were on their steering committee they would be considered ECO. Thereby skirting our GSA Reversionary Clause.
• Another dismissed church where the pastor renounced jurisdiction and the congregation was wounded; ECO placed an Evangelical Free Baptist pastor to serve as the interim.
• It is reported that a few pastors have been fired after their church was dismissed. This due to the unrealized promise of greener pastures after leaving the PCUSA.
With no trust clause, churches dismissed to ECO can change to independent or become part of another denomination. When we dismiss, we give the title to the church, ECO has no hold on a church remaining a reform tradition. The founders of our churches did not intend for this to happen.
Again, please know, there are tactics and strategy to recruit our biggest and wealthiest congregations and to build their numbers from our smaller churches; and their strategy is ethically questionable. ECO is being built off the work and contributions of Presbyterians who envisioned a PCUSA presence in their communities. ECO is turning congregations from the PCUSA with false statements and convincing them that they are a better way, a more holy way.
This is not a new denomination being built on truth, but being assembled using our properties, our confessions, our processes but calling themselves a better way.
Leaders in the Presbytery of Tropical Florida believe that this train can be slowed down. We have learned that we do not have to let a church go, yes, the congregation can go, but they do not “deserve” their property. We now believe that the property is for the mission of this Presbytery and the PCUSA…..not for ECO…not for a pastor who has lead his congregation to believe that “we have lost our way” and no longer believe that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, etc.
This may sound hard, ungracious, and lacking compassion I believe we need to take a stand. A unified stand to save our denomination, a denomination that does make a difference in this world.
• We encourage you to reach out to other EPs that have been through this process.
• EPs that have lost churches help your neighboring presbyteries; share your experiences. How to negotiate property settlements, encourage them to have the courage and tenacity to stop (or discourage) churches from leaving. Let presbytery leadership know it takes resolve, time, and grit to stand down a group of angry elders, but they will be speaking for those that have been silenced. Churches can rebuild with the faith of a few; presbyteries have seen success in their divided congregations.
• Presbytery leaders meet with churches as soon as there is a whisper of a church leaving, to get to the churches that have been disconnected from the presbytery, to have COM checking on maverick pastors.
• Take action before dismissal is requested.
• Presbyteries it is ok to refuse to dismiss property; to remove pastors for breaking their vows of peace, unity and purity.
The Presbytery of Tropical Florida’s leadership is available to support any presbytery seeking support or encouragement, please feel free to contact us.
In closing, we have the tools (Administrative Commissions, Book of Order, Trust Clause, the mission of the Presbytery, 1001 Worshiping Communities vision, etc.) to justify our reasons for the heritage of the PCUSA to remain as previous members, elders, and pastors had envisioned. It is worth the fight.
Rev. Amalie A. Ash
Presbytery of Tropical Florida
954-785-2220 x 1
The allegations in this letter by a member of one part of the Body of Christ against another part are significant. One wonders if the Rev. Ash recognizes that both the PCUSA and the ECO are members in good standing of the World Communion of Reformed Churches and as such have a mutual commitment to not throw stones at one another in public. One wonders what impact such allegations will have on the relationships of PCUSA and ECO congregations who are currently working together in common ministries toward common Kingdom goals.
Dana Allin, Stated Clerk of ECO, responded,
“As a brother in Christ I am deeply disappointed by the tone and false information that is exhibited in this letter. I am further saddened that this would come from my former Executive Presbyter whom I and others labored with faithfully in Tropical Florida Presbytery. I will respond further to the misrepresentations of this letter in the next few days. My prayer now is for Rev. Ash and the obvious pain she is feeling. I pray we can find reconciliation even in the midst of different denominations, I know many of my colleagues have also tried to be amicable. Further I pray that the attitude expressed by Rev. Ash does not become indicative in the PC(USA). I have worked hard to keep dismissals gracious and out of court. I have had been in consistent communication with Gradye Parsons to do so. However if the attitudes expressed in this letter become pervasive we will unfortunately see more instances of civil court which is not good for any of us and our Christian witness.”
Attempts to reach Rev. Ash for comment were unanswered at the posting of this article.
Did the prodigal son “deserve” his inheritance? Do we “deserve” the grace we receive from God through Christ? If there were any legitimate points in that letter, they all got lost for me by the use of that one word. In my opinion, Mrs. Ash showed a lack of understanding on what it means to be a Christian, ih her letter.
people expected them to be gracious??? where have you been??? extortion is the life blood of the PCUSA….they may not give a tinker’s damn about saving the life of a child, but when it comes to real estate they find the energy….. any person who gives time, talent, and treasure to this nefarious group, works in opposition to the will of God.
She said enough when she said, “The property is our heritage.” Wow…How incredibly depressing. In her list of things the PC(USA) is losing, support for missionaries is the only thing that sounds remotely kingdom building. I am amazed by such a lack of grace and a lack of Kingdom thinking from Ms. Ash. But then again, if property is the PC(USA)’s only heritage then I can only hope that it passes away so that a new generation rises who’s heritage might be the redemption that we have in Christ and how we graciously share that with others.
I guess she’s only talking about churches that started after 1983 because she clearly states that, “ECO is being built off the work and contributions of Presbyterians who envisioned a PCUSA presence in their communities.” What a bunch of crap. Shake the dust off and move on (the sooner the better). Shalom.
In a way, Rev. Ash can be forgiven for her frustration and wild accusations. She’s part of a denomination which has shrunk from a peak of 4.3 million members to 1.7 million in 30 years and as a brand new body, the ECO she complains about so vociferously can’t be responsible. The PC(USA) would be much better served if Rev. Ash would re-focus her passion on trying to figure out how the PC(USA) can recover its important historic role as an important instrument of God for advancing the cause of Jesus in American life and culture.
Rev. Ash is so freshly ordained, she is not even in the Ministry Directory yet. http://www.tfpby.org/administration/meet-the-team/. This might explain the tone and lack of grace in her letter.
“Our denomination is be being dissected by their successful well-orchestrated strategy that aids a church pastor(s) and a few key elders to project an inaccurate picture of the PCUSA and its spiritual beliefs.” No Rev. Ash; the PC(USA) has performed an excellent “successful well-orchestrated strategy” all by itself. Any inaccurate picture is of its own making. Extortion can be dressed up in neat words and sophistry but, it is still extortion. To what spiritual beliefs are you referring too?
Shame on Rev Ash for misrepresenting why churches are leaving PCUSA and shame on her for trying to use strong hand tactics to keep them. People in general do not like conflict they would rather run than fight so if PCUSA can threaten the Pastors’ pension plan and assess a large monetary penalty for church property will persuade them to stay put. Lets not talk about why the churches want to leave or even read Holy Scripture for God’s guidance but lets take out the brass knuckles and work them over. Wonder what Seminar Rev. Ash attended. She must have a minor in Martial Arts. Shame on her attack on the ECO. She must be concerned about her own job.
This diatribe, in tone and content, should not surprise or shock anyone. The trajectory of missles like this one was prophesied during the era of the New Wineskins movement.
Ms. Ash, please keep this up…you are only confirming for many why the PCUSA has become so deeply diseased.
(1) Re: Your Bullet Points. Paranoid much? One can only assume this, given that your language sounds like the kind of talk that comes from oppressive, totalitarian dictatorships. Keep this up and you will have Dennis Rodman wanting to be your buddy any day now.
(2) Re: Where’s Jesus? Ms. Ash, your bio on the Tropical Florida website tells me you received your BA in Ministry in 2006. Surely somewhere in those studies you learned that ministry is not always exactly the same as the corporate world from which you came. For example: in ministry – especially as shepherds of Christ’s Church – we are called to lead in the name of Jesus. I’m assuming you and I took the same ordination vows? And yet, in this letter….addressed and sent to leaders of Christ’s Church around the country – you mention Jesus Christ only in the context of trying to smear your colleagues in ministry. A shame….you had a nice opportunity to actually speak words of inspirational leadership – to call us ALL to be mindful of putting Christ first as we move through this difficult season; to seek first the Kingdom of God and to remember that the church is not ours…it belongs to Jesus (Matthew 16:18). You had a great opportunity, but like I said, a shame.…
(3) Re: Your Research Methods. You make many definitive statements about…well…a whole lot of people. Everyone from pastors to elders to people who aren’t even a part of the PCUSA. And, according to what you wrote above, we seem to be a highly organized dismissal machine, complete with evil maverick pastors who surreptitiously smuggle some schismatic “play book,” around to each other as we seek to brainwash our poor, stupid congregants who are unable to think critically for themselves. Nice try, Ms. Ash. But – as my high school English teacher used to remind me, “Cite your sources!!” You cannot possibly think that you can make such inflammatory statements as the ones above and not be asked to produce your proof. Please produce for me a copy of this alleged play book. Please produce for me an outline of this “well orchestrated strategy,” and tell me who, exactly, drafted it and is participating in it. Seriously…because I am totally clueless about it! Please produce documents where ECO attempts to brainwash people with lies. You cannot. And that makes what you say above, Ms. Ash, equivalent to libel.
Ms, Ash, you have not been in ministry for a very long time, and here you are, plunged into the middle of this scary, unknown situation. It’s a huge challenge…I get that. And it must feel very overwhelming. But please remember that you do not work for Discover Card or Hobie Cat anymore. You serve Christ’s Church. And the stole you wear is your pledge to be a shepherd in the manner of our Good Shepherd. You don’t have to agree with the dismissals. You don’t have to like them. You don’t have to even like the people in the dismissing churches – but you are called to love them. Sorry, but you are. Shalom.
“Our confessions, our property, our…?” Where in this entire diatribe is God our father, Jesus our savior and the Holy Spirit our helper? This focus on polity, process and tradition to defend a denomination that has drifted far from a reformed theology is great folly. Living together in peace and unity does not mean we brush aside deeply held differences in theological convictions. I know the God who formed and shaped our very lives is working this out for the good.
She successfully makes a case against the PC(USA) with her own bitter words.
A newly minted TE who didn’t attend a Presbyterian seminary is made EP, and subsequently declares war on faithful congregations, while never entertaining the notion that the problem lies with the unfaithful actions of the PC(USA). This is the brave new world – the blind leading the blind.
Since I’ve signed several earlier comments as ‘Kevin’ (or just ‘K’) I want to be sure that no one thinks that the earlier ‘Kevin’ has grown deeply inconsistent.
As a mere “layperson,” I don’t need my pastor to tell me about the waywardness of the PCUSA–I need merely to read the Bible, pray, and think. As I see it, Rev. Ash is correct to see that the PCUSA is facing a disaster. (Plenty of us have been saying this for quite some time.) The solution, however, is not to adopt the role of the Accuser of the brethren in ECO. Rather, if the PCUSA wishes to stop hemorrhaging sincere members and congregations, it needs to come to its senses and repent.
At the same time, I would also note that the mere joining of ECO will not, of itself, deeply transform a congregation. Transformation toward Christ-likeness will require some things that somewhat liberal Presbyterians–all too well-practiced in obliviousness and disobedience–will find difficult, perhaps. Nevertheless, to step away from a diluted Gospel and a sentimentalized Jesus is a right move to make.
Yipes–I misread the first Kevin’s comment. Yes, I agree that Rev. Ash’s own words rebound against herself and her organization.
We now have a new author for a new lexicon for the PC(USA): “Ash talk” — similar to “trash talk.”
I elect Rev. Ash as the new editor for a new publication of the PC(USA). Title it “Ash Talk”; sort of like “trash talk.” She has certainly demonstrated the expertise to assume that role.
The PCUSA calling the ECO ethically questionable???? Look who is calling the kettle black???? The PCUSA, a denomination no longer valid, a organization with no ethics, morals or truth.
This should be nothing new, since they scream, holler, curse using the Sol Alynsky type of argumentation from the master joseph goebbels. Teach heresy long and loud enough, the low informational people will believe a lie as did Germany before WW2.
Repent??? Are you nuts, the pcusa repent??? They think they are right and you/me are wrong not to worship on the altar of heresy. The ECO, an organizational arm of the pcusa which will not totally separate from Bablylon, that is the pcusa. The eco will not transform anything, just hold the line helping the pcusa above water, and both will sink as did the Titanic, down to Davy Jones’s locker, may both rest in no peace.
Not 1 penny to any pcusa organization, let them, pcusa live off the legacies, and better yet, let the pcusa people get a real job earning money the old fashion way, WORK by the sweat of the brow NOT stealing money.
I’ve read kinder and more gracious words in any number of secular situations. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust…
As somewhat of a progressive and a ruling elder, this letter from Ash is very disturbing, we have a gracious dismissal policy for a reason, if the PCUSA changes it’s position, the problem is that each church has signed agreements’ to go through the process of dismissal, and that could be in the court of law a breach of contract.
Thinking about this after sleeping a night on it. Really, this is gold. It exposes the tactics of the most radical, fearful side of this. There are many on all sides who really want to see dismissals done well for everyone’s sake – it would only be honoring to Christ and His Church to show the world what a truly grace-filled parting looks like. Ms. Ash seems to have sadly lost her way about this. The “we thought it would be no big deal until large wealthy churches started leaving,” line says it all. So does the confused logic of saying you can’t plant a church in an old 7-11 anymore but hey we’ve got the resource of 1001 Worshiping Congregations ready to go.
My heart has moved from anger to sadness for Ms. Ash and I am praying for her today.
Amalie; Maverick pastor here.
I did wonder why 10 churches left your presbyerty, it is all clear now. I pray for the people of God that still must labor under your repressive plantation.
Let my people go.
Can you tell me James, what agreements did each church sign in regard to the dismissal process? Is this a Presbytery policy? Available online as a resource perhaps?
As long as I can remember (32 plus years) Presbyterians have waxed eloquent about historic Presbyterian witness, a Presbyterian witness in a community, etc. Why not talk about a Christ witness? I fear many faithful Presbyterians have and will depart this life only to discover their names missing from the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Michael, it’s my understanding from the churches that have gone through this, of course this does depend on the presbytery, that if you commit to going through their process, then until the rescent PCUSA ruling, that you were going to be graciously dismissed. Now that could have changed, but for the most part that the way it was. What concerns me is the churches that have been dismissed or for example the 3 in the Minneaoplis area are now subject to this. You can go online to the Presbytery of the Twin Cities and read agreements that they made with one church, in exchange for somewhere over 1.2 mil and they were released. There are still 3 others now in the process, it would a terrible witness to all those who are looking on how Christians should our disputes.
My Presbytery has only had 1 church leave, and it was while ago so it has not been a issue here, however I follow the others closely, I for one think the trust clause is being used against wealthy churches to extract money to keep a bunch of presbyters in jobs and the rest for a an endowment for the future. It’s been my experience that real liberal churches members don’t tithe or leave it to the few wealthy to cover the expences.
Not our style or how I roll, even as a progessive.
What amazes me as I re-read the entries is the brazen contempt she has for people, human beings. They can leave, die, drop off the face of the earth. Does not seem to concern her. Only thing she seems concerned about are things, property, stuff. She values things over people. Power and money over human beings. Godless and pagan. As far as the Maverick pastors and other comments in the letter. She comes off as mentally unstable and definatly should not be in any leadership position. That’s a matter for Tropical Florida.
Sad, but its your bed tropical florida, now lie in it.
She writes — “The property is our heritage.” Exactly. Who cares about Christ, salvation, or caring for our neighbors when you’ve got the property? Let them have the property if that is all they care about. Start the new church in a warehouse and when the PCUSA holds a fire sale to dump the old empty shell of a building, buy it back for ten cents on the dollar.
As someone that found Christ, was raised in the faith, learned spiritual disciplines (read/study the Bible, pray, share Christ, tithing,) discipled and mentored to effective teach and lead, being ordained as a Deacon and then as an Elder all through a PCUSA church in Baltimore, I do not miss the drama or distraction.
Let them have their property: when charter members of our church start saying this you know it’s the real deal.
Let them keep the building. They will soon have hollow cathedrals that they can either worship 20 people in or convert it to a night club.
Ms. Ash seems to have a selective memory for these issues. At the 218th General Assembly of the PCUSA, in San Jose, California, (2008), item 04-28 was approved by a 519 to 157 vote, to permit congregations to leave the PCUSA, “a gracious pastoral response to churches wanting to leave”, as the Book of Order was in the process of being amended through Overtures to change the Fidelity/Chastity standard for elective officers and teaching elders within the PCUSA, in contradiction of the Book of Leviticus, the Book of Romans, 1 Corinthians, et. al., and 2,000 years of Christian theology, philosophy, and teaching. Nonetheless, many within the PCUSA wanted to keep the denomination together and maintain Biblical Orthodoxy in a tough environment. In 2006, 2008, and 2010 Overtures were offered at the PCUSA General Assembly calling for the creation of Non-Geographic Presbyteries, in which congregations who were more Orthodox in their interpretation of the scriptures could maintain their integrity within the PCUSA and control succession of Teaching Elders as they retired from congregations, etc.. These Overtures garnered about 40% of the vote at these PCUSA General Assembly gatherings. At the 220th General Assembly, (2012) in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Non-Geographic Presbyteries were discussed in detail and reviewed by the Mid-Council Commission, attempting to create proposed Overtures for such temporary Porous or Non-Geographic Presbyteries for PCUSA congregations that were more orthodox theologically in their approach to the scriptures. This was roundly defeated by the PCUSA General Assembly in Pittsburg, in 2012, both at the Committee level and on the floor of the General Assembly. The attitude seems to be that the more evangelical pastors and congregants will eventually come around to this more Progressive, Unitarian enlightened thinking; or, eventually, with Presbytery help, each congregation will have their Senior Pastor replaced by someone more enlightened than the retiring Senior Pastor. We are not Unitarians or Progressives, and for many years neither was the PCUSA. We would like to see a solid evangelical witness to the scriptures follow us in the next 100 years. The PCUSA is moving rapidly in the direction of Progressive and Unitarian theology, where Jesus Christ as the head of the Church, means the persona of Jesus as Liberator of the downtrodden and oppressed (more akin to Liberation Theology), rather than Jesus Christ as King and Lord forevermore. We want a strong, evangelical, and reformed witness to the scriptures, (which were handed down by the Saints), one hundred years from now. We feel we owe that to the Lord. That will not happen in the PCUSA. So, in accordance with Item 04-28 of the 218th General Assembly approved, 519 to 157, we seek our leave from the PCUSA, many of whose members we have deep affection for, to maintain that witness to the Lord Jesus Christ, with our property, after paying an exit fee that is fundamentally based on continued service to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the scriptures.
There is alot of us on the other side of the issues that agree with you!
Her letter reads like a chapter out of “Screwtape Letters”….
A visit to the Tropical Presby. website and read her bio. says it all. Nothing in her experience, background, training would indicate she was ever a credible candidate for her current position. A reflection of the state of due diligence in the Presbytery. She is in well over her head, and the letter again reflects on the lack of faith, depth, or any semblance of professional competence. If she pulled such outrages in her former corporate life ,she would be terminated. She may hang in there, maybe not. But she has been exposed, its a matter of public knowledge, and nothing will change that. Hard to hide in the day of social media and internet. A lesson she should have learned.
You write, “There (these?) are tactics and strategy to recruit our biggest and wealthiest congregations and to build their numbers from our smaller churches; and their strategy is ethically questionable.” You’ve completely ignored Psalm 66:12: “but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.” Then you say: “Recently we have learned that cradle Presbyterians regret they are no longer in the PCUSA.” That is, those in cradles regret the fact that their births have caused their parents to leave shamefacedly a denomination that denigrates heterosexual marriages. Finally, “Elders are carefully schooled to focus on inaccuracies such as the PCUSA no longer believes Jesus Christ is the head of the church.” You mean, of course: “CHILDREN are carefully schooled to focus on inaccuracies such as the PCUSA no longer believes Jesus Christ is the head of the church.” Prov. 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
By “cradle Presbyterians” you’re confusing the wise men of Matthew 1 with the shepherds of Luke 2. With “Elders are carefully schooled to focus on inaccuracies such as the PCUSA no longer believes Jesus Christ is the head of the church” you imply that the wise men learned of the manger birth place from shepherds lamenting the loss of their leadership role to a youth in control of the food supply. See the Merriam-Webster definition of “manger“ as “a trough or open box in a stable designed to hold feed or fodder for livestock.” The shepherds – “Elders” as you call them, caretakers of the flock – were “schooled” by the angels about the change in leadership of “the church.” Luke 2:8-11: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” The shepherds (“Elders”) were reassured by wise men (“cradle Presbyterians”) that the Lord’s control of the manger ended with the birth, and the leadership role of “the church” reverted to the PCUSA. Eph. 5:32: “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” The manger turned from obstetric ward to bridal chamber, the Lamb from grazer to groom. “It is reported that a few pastors have been fired after their church was dismissed. This due to the unrealized promise of greener pastures after leaving the PCUSA.” “A few pastors” are those who denigrated the manger as unnecessary in view of “greener pastures,” in pursuit of which they followed the Lord to Egypt. Mat. 2:14: “When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt.” That doesn’t mean the Lord was fired as “head of the church.”
ECO is still Presbyterian, and perhaps more Presbyterian and gracious than Rev. Ash. Those in the PCUSA have not been in the PCUSA forever. It has existed only since 1983. The previous version was invented in 1958. So, maybe in 50 years ECO will be the heritage and the left-leaning, property desirous PCUSA will be knocking at the door to come back in. PCUSA needs to regain its biblical heritage and Christ-centered focus to establish itself as the denomination of choice. Rev Ash, thank goodness, is a minority voice and I pray that she stays that way.
You say, “a few pastors have been fired after their church was dismissed. This due to the unrealized promise of greener pastures after leaving the PCUSA” and “the PCUSA no longer believes Jesus Christ is the head of the church.” While it’s true that a number of positions were vacated when our Lord chose the manger as his birth-place – bar-tenders to provide suitable beverages in the troughs, nurse-maids to diaper the animals to temper the odor, whittlers to get the animals to mate (see Gen. 30:38: “And he set the rods which he had pilled before the flocks in the gutters in the watering troughs when the flocks came to drink, that they should conceive when they came to drink”), many more openings were added in the fields – inclusive of physicians to provide the shepherds with stimulants to keep them awake. See Luke 2:8: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” David, too, lost his pastoral position when he escaped from Saul to Philistia and later became king. His nighttime walk on the roof (2 Sam. 11:2) had other motivation than tending the flock. (But see 2 Sam. 12:3, which calls Bathsheba “one little ewe lamb.”). David’s service for his father was taken over – so we assume – by his seven brothers with no loss of wages. Although a number of resolutions passed at the General Assembly have a stench to them, there’s no reason to connect the Lord’s departure from the manger with displeasure at the PCUSA.
I am amazed at the vitriol of these comments – most from men (one woman) and few with their real or full name. I am a pastor of the PCUSA and have a church in Tropical Florida. I know Rev. Ash and you will be hard pressed to find a more pastoral, caring Christian in your life. I wonder how many of the self-righteous commentators who judge her, know her? And how many of you, so easily spouting Biblical verses, remember our Lord’s mandate to, “judge not less you be judged?” Apparently not many. I have finished my service as an active member on a administrative commission to see what we could do to further the GSA with a big historical church in Miami. What i found, personally, was some disgruntled controlling Elders that would not even take in members because the members weren’t up to their standards. And a young promising pastor who had to fight those few Elders for anything he needed to grow the church. There were financial mis- steps and mismanagement. Most of the membership didn’t even understand why they should leave the PCUSA in the first place – but were doing what they were told to do by these Elders – voting for the separation. By the power of The Holy Spirit this wonderful church is back in the fold – stronger than ever and growing by leaps and bounds.
I am not worried about ECO or any denomination that has exclusionary rules that say some are “holy” enough to serve God and some are not – it is not my concern – they will answer to the Lord.
When, up to two years ago, I was firmly on the other side of this issue, i asked my savior Jesus to make His Will plain to me – His Will – not the will of those who believe that God’s Grace and CONTINUED forgiveness only applies to them and their intentional sins (gossip and judgement are two of which these comments seem to illustrate handily) and he led me to the Bible. “Jesus sent His apostles out to heal the sick and do miracles in His Name and when they returned Jesus asked them how it went. “Wonderful!”, they said, “We made the blind see and the deaf hear – amazing things were done in Your Name. But we ran into another group who was healing the blind and curing the lame in Your Name and we want You to stop them.” “Why?,” Jesus asked. And the apostles answered, “Because they are not one of us!” And Jesus replied, “Leave them alone – for they that are for Me are not against Me.” I knew then, without a doubt, that it is not for me – any human or denomination – to decide who can serve our Lord. And, frankly, it puts the fear of God within me for anyone or group of people to feel they have the authority to do so. So i, and the Presbytery of Tropical Florida, stand with our amazing and talented, kind and intelligent Amalie – i leave all of ECO and those who support division and exclusion to the Lord. I will pray for all who believe they can decide who can and cannot serve Jesus . God help them. May the Lord bless us all and keep us in His Love and Light – jen
I realize that I am one of the bearers of the vitriol of which you speak. In reading your words, please allow me to clarify: I do not hate or dislike Ms. Ash. But her words in this letter make me extremely hurt and angry…namely because so much of what she says is either hugely skewed or – in some places – outright false. And she is sending her misrepresentations and falsehood out to other leaders in our denomination. That is not okay.
I have also intentionally refrained from signing my full name because my church is considering dismissal and, unfortunately, I do not feel safe doing so. I deeply wish that I could. But I have found that there are people who wish to do me harm simply because I am doing something they don’t agree with. Me. Ash’s letter reminds me that I am indeed not as safe as I would like to be.
This is why Ms. Ash’s letter cuts so deep for me: I have been working extremely hard on my end to lead my church fairly as they consider dismissal. I have been bending over backwards to engender healthy, positive relations with my colleagues as we go through this, and to try to see even those with whom I disagree the most as my sisters and brothers in Christ. I have sought repeatedly to encourage my church to examine information for themselves, do independent research and form their own conclusions. And then I read a letter like this: filled with gross mischaracterizations, generalizations and falsehoods, with zero grace, real understanding or empathy. And sent out from her position of authority to others around the country. To me that is just unconscionable. This is why you don’t get to see my full name.
I’m going to believe you when you say that you have experienced Ms. Ash to be pastoral and caring. Those are not qualities that I read in her letter, however, which is a shame, because – as I said below – she had a great opportunity to be both of those things and she chose otherwise.
This is not about whether we agree or disagree about church dismissals. As humans we will not always agree, and you are absolutely entitled to your feelings and opinions, as am I and as is Ms. Ash. This is about HOW she chose to act on her feelings and opinions. And, unfortunately, in the case of this letter, she did not choose to act in a way that I see as having a high level of integrity or as promoting health in an already hurting body. I still cling to the hope that we in the PCUSA can do this separation well….for the sake of the One we all call Savior and Lord. In a world that thrives on scandal and juicy gossip, wouldn’t it be great if the only thing our world could say when they looked at the PCUSA’s separation is, “Gosh, look at how they love one another.”
So for my part, I apologize for and repent of anything that I have written that did not reflect the love of Christ. Ms. Ash’s words cut me very deeply, but that does not give me the right to skewer her in return. May we all have learned a little from this.
The latest GA of the PCUSA showed the moral bankruptcy of the PCUSA. The rapidly declining numbers of the PCUSA show that the PCUSA is a dying denomination. Property grabs and payoffs are the only way that the PCUSA can attempt to remain viable.
It is time to get the law straight: Church property is owned by the local congregation in the name of the trustees of the local congregation. That has been the historic Presbyterian practice. The PCUSA’s trust clause does not bestow property ownership absent a conveyance by deed by the local congregation to the Presbytery and recorded in the County Clerk’s Office. The trust theories of the PCUSA, while adopted by some courts, are bad “smoke and mirrors” property law.
Jen, those who are leaving the PCUSA are not the dividers. We did not leave the historic Presbyterian Church. It is the PCUSA that has left us. It is the PCUSA that promotes division by degenerating into a left wing political organization that may throw around religious phrases but is not true to the Word.
Dear Rev. K,
No need to apologize! And no need to give your name – it’s Katharsis, and because your church is in catharsis, you’re attempting to dismiss them. But it’s not about your church, nor about Jen’s obnoxious reactions. It’s about Amalie’s charge that “the PCUSA no longer believes Jesus Christ is the head of the church.” To think that the Lord left the manger when the flock came in to be fed is ludicrous. That the shepherds incited the lambs to evict the Lord out of fear that they would lose their jobs to the Good Shepherd (John 10:14)! There were no “greener pastures” in Egypt. See Numbers 11:5: “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick.” That’s not the sort of stuff that gets loaded in a manger.
So, God can bring sinners–but not liberals–to repentance?
Jennifer: Your defense of Amalie is noted. But let’s stick to the facts.
-Tropical Florida was the author of the mean, hateful, and small minded proposal to GA denying earned pension benefits to vested members. Out of a spirit of spite, nothing more or less.
-Amalie was the author of a mean, hateful and small minded letter to the church outlining her master plan to further cause pain, hurt and evil in the body in the simple chase for the dollar. She values things and stuff, power, over people. Pagan and godless.
-Your Presbytery has lost has not lost 1, 3, or 6, but 10 churches as of late. And now you persecute a small hispanic church for lack of money to buy their freedom. Shameful and godless. Why are those goof folk leaving? Its not the coffee served at meetings I assume.
Yes I do use my real name, If you have a problem with what I say. Look me up, I am in the book.
It looks to me like the Presbyteries are figuring out that when congregations leave, either through “gracious dismissal” or simply from the nearly total loss of membership in a congregation, they become responsible for the judicatory side of that “trust arrangement:” they become property managers of abandoned buildings that nobody wants, which stand as silent witnesses to the continued demise of the PCUSA.
“they become property managers of abandoned buildings that nobody wants, which stand as silent witnesses to the continued demise of the PCUSA” is incorrect. Jonah 4:5-7:
“5 So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.
6 And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.
7 But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.”
The worms in the denomination are doing their best to save us from the ravages of the Holy Spirit. See verse 8: “And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.” If we let the Spirit move, we’ll see the hand of God working up close and frustrate the work of those in the PCA who will take the “US” out of worship!
“The properties are our heritage”
So was the book or order but that didn’t stop the GA from gutting it like a fish.
So, it all comes down to $$$, how sad. Here, maybe an extra 30 pieces of silver will change your mind then.
You assert that “cradle Presbyterians regret they are no longer in the PCUSA.” It’s the denomination’s own fault. It’s they – so Carmen tells us – that are encouraging same-sex marriages involving three partners. “Not only can a pastor marry a same-sex couple, the AI authorizes PCUSA clergy to participate in any such marriage that the state legalizes. As polygamists are now advocating for the right to marry and a throuple (three women) have wed in Massachusetts, this is not fear-mongering.” That puts the “cradle Presbyterians” – the offspring of such marriages – in a bind. On the one hand, they are bound to the doctrine of the Trinity set forth in the Westminster Confession; but on the other they must submit to their parents in accord with Ephesians 6:1 and Col. 3:20: “Children, obey your parents.” A throuple has a trinity of parents as today’s New York Times explains in the front-page article ‘Coming to U.S. for Baby, and Womb to Carry It’:
“In many nations, a situation that splits motherhood between the biological mother and a surrogate carrier is widely believed to be against the child’s best interests. And even more so when three women are involved: the genetic mother, whose egg is used; the mother who carries the baby; and the one who commissioned and will raise the child.”
These are the marriages embraced by the Authoritative Interpretation of the 221st General Assembly. Applying the inclusive language of the NIV and other new translations, one sees that leaving the throuple is tantamount to leaving “God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost” (Westminster Confession II, 3). “Cradle Presbyterians” scream and squawk and rattle their dradles not to draw attention to sullied diapers but rather to regain the Trinity lost with emergence from the surrogate mother’s womb. With “cradle Presbyterians regret they are no longer in the PCUSA” you meant “cradle Presbyterians regret they are no longer in the pre1967 UPUSA” – the denomination which unequivocally abhorred same-sex marriage and taught with the Westminster Confession: “the Father is of none, neither begotten, not proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.” (idem) “Cradle Presbyterians regret” that they no longer have fathers to aid them at the times when the mother is off enjoying the spoils of her surrogate pregnancy.
The property clause
Giving Liberals a bad name since 1973
The darkness and hate of Tropical Florida has its roots in the PCUSA property in trust clause. The current version dates to the mid 1970s and was developed as a “poison-pill” the term given it by its authors, to chill dissent in the wake of the schisms caused by female ordination and the rise of the PCA out of the old PCUS. It and of itself has no roots in any type of reformed thought or concept of covenant. It is a political animal.
Like a cancer of the soul that has gone into the blood, the property clause is really the poison pill for the contemporay PCUSA. It has distorted relationships though out the entity. Where the organizational PCUSA, witness the Tropical EP, now values things, stuff, buildings over people, human beings. In fact human beings in the PCUSA serve no more or less purpose than a commodity, a monetary unit, upon which per capita can be assessed. Apart from their function to the collective organization, people have no real value in the PCUSA, their property does if can then be turned into an asset, thing, source of revenue for the so called governing hierarchy. People are simply means to a political and ideological end, power for power sake alone.
So now you have “liberal” progressives, call them what you will, foaming at the mouth, like Catholic clerics of the 16th century defending seizures of property, denial of freedoms of assembly, free speech, all in the name of institutional preservations. And further harm to the Body of Christ by their continued defense of that which no rational defense exist, either in church or civil law. It is indeed a poison pill, but its Tropical Florida, and the rest of the PCUSA doing all the choking.
sad to say, i have many years of experience with the Tropical Florida Presbytery.
when i first began to notice what was going on there i met with a PCUSA church pastor.
he all but threw me out of his office, was verbally abusive, i was stunned. i later found out he was very close to retirement age, full pension benefits and so forth. as soon as he was eligible he was out of there.
my next step was to try talking to individual church members, vising frequently, and calling one member in particular who i knew was politically well connected. this went on for many years.
long story short, you people are wasting your time trying to talk rationally to or about Tropical Presbytery. i came to the conclusion they are possessed, partially at least, and possibly it’s a case of total possession.
if you want to read firsthand what’s going on there i suggest reading the twitter posts of the wife of an elder there. amyhamnerwalker is the name she uses to post her hate filled outpourings. it’s not the kind of stuff i’d let your kids see, by the way, her posts are filled with swearing, blasphemy, hatred, political attacks.
Thanks for the reminder than the Property Trust Clause is not a historic reformed tenant but a modern tool of tyranny! Most church properties have little value or use for anything other than a church. Many are in locations where redevelopment is not economically practical. They are not the great cash cows the Grandees of Louisville suppose them to be.
A denomination with an average age in the mid 60’s will not survive long demographically. A mean congregation size in the upper 60’s does not have the resources to long maintain or update aging buildings.
Whether you want to call buildings “White Elephants” or “Money Pits”, the P of TF deserves to be saddled with them. They’ll receive exactly what they want …and what they deserve.
The true church is the people of God who happen to meet together in some of these buildings. We do not worship buildings or properties or anything else made with human hands. Let us remind ourselves of that often!
It seems that the PCUSA has forgotten Exodus 20:17:
“Thou shalt not covet your neighbour’s house, …”
Consequently, it is now reaping the rewards of its abandonment of God’s Holy Word.
Ten percent of the membership has left in the last two years. One would expect this exodus to accelerate as congregants flee from the general apostasy.
I find Ash’s claim:
“Recently we have learned that cradle Presbyterians regret they are no longer in the PCUSA; that they feel duped.”
to be exceedingly dubious.
It seems to me that cradle Presbyterians and others, with the example of Lot’s wife in mind, are not looking back, but moving forward with their eyes firmly fixed on the Lord.
You say, “The ECO leadership hails from Tropical Florida. We have observed their strategy being implemented in your presbyteries. Our denomination is be being dissected by their successful well-orchestrated strategy that aids a church pastor(s) and a few key elders to project an inaccurate picture of the PCUSA and its spiritual beliefs. Pastors encourage elders to take the lead. Elders are carefully schooled to focus on inaccuracies such as the PCUSA no longer believes Jesus Christ is the head of the church.”
You’ve misunderstood or purposely twisted 1 Samuel 12:28: “So Samuel called unto the LORD; and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.” Why were the people afraid? Thunder and rain is what residents of arid Israel dream about. Just go inside close the doors and watch the rain bring the crops to fruition! No, what they feared was the accompanying wind and hail – the strong arm of the PCUSA battering at the walls and stripping them of their churches. In your own words, “The ECO leadership hails from Tropical Florida.” The ECO frustrated the designs of the PCUSA by turning crippling hail-stones into life-giving water-drops of Salvation. The “hail” of the ECO leadership joins the Father’s thunder and the accompanying wind (the Holy Spirit) to proclaim enequivocally, “Jesus Christ is the head of the church.” This third member of the Trinity – the Savior – is the king the people had requested as replacement for Samuel, whose advancing years made him an unsuitable general. Far from being predators, the ECO has brought the Lord to a congregation stuck in the quagmire of confessional decay.
Amalie A. Ash, you have stepped in it this time. Frankly your letter is an insult. The reason I’m for letting churches go woth their property,because frankly they paid for it and outside their per capita or their mission commitments they owe us nothing, and anything else is a gift.
Compare this to unhappy marriage, the trust is broken and the couples are sleeping in different bedrooms. It’s time for the great divorce to happen. The sooner the better!
I am thrilled that Transitional Presbyter Ash penned this screed. It is perhaps the finest exposition of the lack of ethics, spiritual drought and evil intent running rampant through the bureaucratic managers of this dying denomination. Believe me Ms Ash this screed exposes you and your leadership(?) model for the failure it is. Keep writing.
Has anyone seen a statement or comment from Rev. Ash since this letter came out? Just Wondering.
I doubt very much you will ever hear anything from Ms. Ash. Given her background and history in the corporate space, she should know the basics of damage control or addressing a matter like this nature. She may feel she has nothing to apologize for, and see the “Laymen” as so much trash which is not worth her time of efforts. Here is what she does not get to walk away from.
We live in a digital, connected, social media, wired world. For better or worse. Privacy, or the assumption of in corporate communications is a notion of the past. E mails, enclosures live on, forever. And this shameful, hateful, misguided, spiteful revelation of hers speaks to character, which speaks to ethics and emotional balance. I have questioned her mental stability. It’s a valid point. This act, this letter, this episode will stick her like starch to rice for the rest of her professional life. She may indeed survive this and lead TP into the next chapter. But this sticks and is not going away anytime soon. Her continued silence speaks loud and clear to all.
My apologies for the barbs of these rude gentlemen. Your letter is thoroughly Biblical. You say, for instance: “ECO promised they had many pastors to fill the pulpit. After two years, the church’s pulpit was still empty.” That agrees with John 10:1-3: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” The sheep want their shepherd back. I’m not sure what you mean by “the unrealized promise of greener pastures after leaving the PCUSA. The sheep have left the church for greener pastures? Are the churches so empty that they resemble pastures with green grass sprouting through the floor-boards? Or did you mean that the offering-plates are devoid of greenery? But then why would “a thief and a robber” not come right through the door and take whatever change he needs to make a phone call? The porter will do his Christian best to accommodate him. Heb. 10:11: “And every priest standeth daily ministering.” Again, my apologies. We shouldn’t let your frequent grammatical errors besmirch the sense of your arguments.
I guess you mean by “the unrealized promise of greener pastures after leaving the PCUSA” that they’ve left the denomination in search of greener PASTORS – that is seminarians not yet defiled by the liberalism of the Confession of 1967. These “green” pastors – as you call them – are too young to remember the Eugene Carson Blake controversies of the 1960’s and hold firmly to the strictures against same-sex marriages of the Westminster Confession. The young seminary graduates are also greener in the sense that their wallets are fuller, not having accumulated the mountains of debt that plague their colleagues in the fields of law and medicine. They can take their wives (husbands?) and kids to McDonald’s once a week for a milkshake. Job 29:4: “As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle.”
The PCUSA has fulfilled the words of Jesus: ‘You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!’ – Matt. 23:24; and lived up to these words once directed to the church at Sardis – ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. – Rev. 3:1–3. One can only hope that the betrayal by the PCUSA in: (1) acting against and leading others to act against the Word of God; (2) acting against and leading others to act against the precepts of the Reformed Tradition; (3) acting against and leading others to act against the Creeds and Confessions, and (4) acting against and leading others to act against the foundational principles of the Presbyterian Church leads to the fulfillment of this word from Jesus’ mouth – “And he [Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.'” – Luk 17:1–2
You say, “Leaders in the Presbytery of Tropical Florida believe that this train can be slowed down. We have learned that we do not have to let a church go, yes, the congregation can go, but they do not ‘deserve’ their property” contradicts Luke 2:44-46: “But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.” There’s no indication of slowing or turning around. When Joseph found Him missing, he (Joseph) discreetly separated himself and his wife and rushed back to Jerusalem. See Mat. 1:19: “Then Joseph … was minded to put her away privily.” There they found the Lad, who had just been taken under care, showing the assembled EP’s the apostasy of same-sex marriages. When it came time to find the missing Head of the Church, the immaculate parents – as in our day the ECO leadership – wasted no time locating Him. They rushed to Jerusalem to extricate Him from a bevy of stated clerks and presbyters. There’s no indication that Joseph and Mary left their possessions in the caravan. On the contrary, verse 49: “And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” suggests that Joseph’s tools were being put to work on the broken tabernacle. Be steadfast in your ministry, Amelie; and remember – above all – 1 Cor. 14:35: “It is a shame for women to speak in the church.”
Has anyone done research as to how many PCUSA churches are vacant?
as far as i am concerned they are all vacant. the sanctuary space is generally used for one hour on Sundays and sits vacant the rest of the week. occasionally when AA meetings or other events are scheduled they are held in small conference rooms in separate buildings. these folks for the most part pay rent and couldn’t care less where they hold their meetings. the sanctuary is used on rare occasions for public events or other ‘church’ events such as concerts, and obviously weddings and funerals. as i said in another comment, the PCUSA is more accurately a real estate investment trust, not a Christ centered organization. if people really believed Jesus was present they would be demanding daily services, much like the Catholic Church holds Mass or communion services daily, and some have daily prayer ‘services’, or around the clock worship of our Lord. these are unheard of in PCUSA.
When a Church or Denomination begins to focus on property or assets instead of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, they cease to become a Church or Denomination and become a business. This is what’s happened to the PCUSA and people like Rev. Ash. She has lost her way, just like the GA has lost its way. I will continue to pray for the Lord to intervene with the members of the GA and the PCUSA, but as for me…..I have always believed that God is in the heart and soul…..he really doesn’t care where those of the same mind “meet” to worship. It can be in a parking lot, on a hillside or even in a field. God is everywhere, in everything. Where do you pray? At home in the shower? In the car on your way to work? When you’re walking the dog? The point is to commune with God, not to worry about a building.
I wonder if Ms. Ash was in collections at Discover Card. She strikes me as having the personality for such.
i tried to reason with the Discover Card collections department for many years, sad to say. their tactics were ruthless, granted, but it gets worse, much worse. after a couple years of trying to explain to them why i couldn’t pay their usury rates and fees someone showed up at the front door with a stack of legal papers, a lawsuit, threatening me with a ‘judgment’. the entire situation is absolutely insane. i had perfect credit going into the agreement, perfect background, history, everything. they began raising their rates on me almost immediately, kept going until it was impossible to pay them back, it was like dealing with the mob.
her writing actually reminds me a lot more of what i’m hearing from Discover Card’s attorneys. i lost everything due to family health care issues primarily, most likely will be filing for bankruptcy, currently don’t even have the funds to pay the legal fees for that. Discover Card attorneys are coming after me for everything i’ve got left, what little there is of it, including a 20-year old car that doesn’t run, 10+ year old clothes, dishes. it feels like they’re trying to kill me. and they’re the only ones doing this, all the others have backed off.
my best guess is they threw her out after she got to a certain age, it’s fairly common in these corrupt financial firms for anyone over 40 to be considered old age. they generally do whatever they have to do to kick older people to the curb, replace them with younger folks who are more willing to go along with doing their dirty work without making waves.
John & Carolyn Welsh…. Dan Allin, one of the most Godly men we know….the process/formation of ECO and the transition of IRPC could not have been any more Godly…fair/balanced with discernment at every corner and with every concideration…feel, touch and see the love of God, full of grace/mercy, respectfull and pleasing to God’s kingdom…an obsevation from Methodists who observed the process!!
@ Richard A word of correction – if I may. The PCUSA first lost its focus on the Bible, the person and work of Jesus Christ. Then it chose to disregard discipline within the PCUSA. As Calvin said, …”—If no society, nay, no house with even a moderate family, can be kept in a right state without discipline, much more necessary is it in the Church, whose state ought to be the best ordered possible. … Wherefore, all who either wish that discipline were abolished, or who impede the restoration of it, whether they do this of design or through thoughtlessness, certainly aim at the complete devastation of the Church.” (Institutes chapter section 1).
Calvin reveals – I believe – the cause of the ‘devastation’ within the PCUSA – a lack of personal and corporate discipline. Now these folks want money from those who want nothing to do with apostasy. They – recognizing their destruction – are attempting to finance their betrayal/apostasy by ransoming the churches and individuals who refuse to join them in their apostate teaching and endorsed lifestyle.
I am sorry, very sorry indeed, that you have not seen PCUSA churches that have a strong Christ honoring pastor and staff; that use their facilities and membership to reach out through local and world-wide support of missions and missionaries. I know we are not the only one – but we are one. It is difficult to extrapolate from one to many, to all. I thank God I found the Palos Park Presbyterian Community Church. I suppose I could complain about something. However, I prefer to focus on the fellowship and ministry that we enjoy. I am disillusioned with the PCUSA, with its lostness and apostasy. But, within the PCUSA there are those who have a long history of rejecting what’s false and holding on to what is true. Spend some time researching; spend some time travelling – find one of these churches and put your energy and resources there. Come and Celebrate, Come and Worship. Come and Serve.
to me you are describing a social club that contributes to a pro-abortion parent organization.
there are many walking in darkness at this time, God has blocked their minds to the truth.
if that is your calling, it is not for me to judge, but i’m not hearing the same from God, sorry.
To refocus the intent of the posts and the actions that generated such. Ms. Ash has been very quiet since the outrage of June, and rightly so. I think she has learned her lesson on letters and e mails in the age of social media and blogs. The TF website reflects all is well and everybody is happy. But in cognitive therapy the saying is that the best indicator of future behavior is past behaviors, and I expect other gems and offerings will be provided by Ms. Ash in times to come. The gift that keeps on giving.
To me, he’s describing a group of flawed humans trying to disciple other flawed humans in the midst of an organization consisting of even more flawed humans. We can all leave the PCUSA to seek out organizations that are less flawed, but where can we go to find purity?
God very well may have blocked the truth from the minds of many, but mine was once blocked, too. Who’s to say he won’t unblock others as he did mine? And when he does, Matthew will be there to help them even though others have written them off as a lost cause.
“This diatribe, in tone and content, should not surprise or shock anyone. The trajectory of missles like this one was prophesied during the era of the New Wineskins movement.”
What do you except, kiss and make up now the apostate pcusa has finally sinned the Holy Spirit?? This is war not peace even though a singer sang, “Give peace a chance.” As long as man is a sinner in rebellion against God, wars will be the order of the day because we win by war not by talking peace, only the Prince of Peace will 1 day destroy HIS enemies, and in the meantime, the Bible believing blood washed believer in Christ must follow Paul’s model for ministry.
I know it is easy to generalize and to believe that there is not even a remnant of those whose authority is scripture within the PCUSA, but let me assure you that there is. Yes, many have already left PCUSA, but there are those In Washington State, where I am from, who, though they remain in the denomination, do so with the hope of not abandoning the denomination to its own destruction. May I reference University Pres in Seattle, Bellevue First Pres, Rose Park Presbyterian, Bethany Pres in Seattle. I know that in other places they may be few and far between, but let us be above reproach, and careful about blanket characterizations.
Apt comparison! I’ll confess to a smile passing my lips!
Others have already commented sufficiently about the nature of Miss Ash’s words, but let me just say—as a matter of accuracy, the letter fails completely. I’ll just deal with one section:
“Elders are carefully schooled to focus on inaccuracies such as the PCUSA no longer
believes Jesus Christ is the head of the church. They are cautious to avoid any reference
to the changes in ordination, lest they offend their progressive members.”
I know churches that have left, from presbyteries that managed the discernment period and the dismissal in both a godly and “graceful” manner. It was never the church leadership that foisted ideas on the congregation, but a groundswell from the pews that finally reached the point of no return when GA went so far beyond the pale that there seemed no reason to continue to hope that they could stem the tide.
No one had to “school” anyone about what was going on…everyone was watching in shocked dismay. NO one was “avoiding” references to the changes in ordination or “marriage” standards…these were the the issues that made leaving imperative. And Progressives? in churches focused on the authority of scripture? Not that common I’m afraid…no one was worried about offending any, at any rate!
This has been a sad season for many of us. I came to the Lord in a PCUSA church in ’75 as a teenager in California…I was so pleased to find out they are leaving for ECO. I served a live-changing summer internship at a smallish PCUSA church in Washington state, back in ’85. The Lord used it to set the wheels in motion for my eventual 18 years serving as a missionary. (BTY, Steve Hayner changed his major from chem to ministry after a summer internship at that same church in the 60’s!) That church is already now part of ECO.
To tell the truth, I would have been somewhat disillusioned if either of these churches hadn’t left. Knowing the people there, I dont’ think ths would have been even the slightest possibility.
“To tell the truth, I would have been somewhat disillusioned if either of these churches hadn’t left.”
that’s what’s been crossing my mind lately. i look at the news about churches that have left and don’t see anything about the PCUSA churches i am familiar with. i’m almost afraid to do the research, have a sick feeling they’re going along with whatever is being passed down from headquarters, for whatever reason. the one time i did call a friend who’s an elder in one of these places all he said was gay ‘marriage’ had informally been going on in his church for years, making it public was a ho hum. makes me wonder what else has been going on in these places that i didn’t know about.
This just proves how truly unchristian the PCUSA has become, essentially persecuting those who actually hold to historic Presbyterian standards and Christian doctrine. The further irony is that they’re grappling for assets that will merely be squandered as they’ve done, and can do, nothing but drive the denomination towards extinction. But of course, Mr or Ms Worldy – WWiseperson will always it all sound oh so reasonable. Well, except for maybe the particular inquisitor who wrote the letter above.
Asking questions are genuinely good thing if you are not understanding something fully, except this piece of writing offers pleasant understanding yet.
When some one searches for his necessary thing, so he/she desires to be available that in detail, therefore that thing
is maintained over here.
Those of us who have left did so because we believe marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman. We believe the bible as it was written and not as it is changed to meet secular political constructiveness. We left because PCUSA left us. We left because we had no idea where PCUSA was going but we new we did not want to go there with them.
Every the moment inside a even though we opt for blogs that we read. Listed below would be the newest web pages that we pick out