A brief note in the meeting papers of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB) meeting held recently in Louisville caught my eye. The Committee to Review Biennial Assemblies reported that they had “no recommendations as of yet” but that “the committee is exploring the possibility of electing the moderator in the same manner as the Church of Scotland, i.e., through the use of a Nominating Committee elected by the prior assembly. This is the only office in the PCUSA which is not nominated through a nominating committee process.”
Currently, any presbytery in the PCUSA has the right to nominate any presbyter to stand for the office of moderator and after the self-nomination of Janet Edwards in 2012 without the concurrence of her presbytery, the possibility exists that any commissioner might rise to contend for the position.
Apparently the PCUSA GA committee that is discussing the matter is not aware that the Church of Scotland has seriously considered changing their process which is viewed as highly controlled, non-transparent and produces moderators that are not representative of churchgoers.
A second evidence of the desire of some to limit the voices at the table arose when the Governance task force of PMAB discussed its own membership. One sitting member of board wanted there to be some “guarantee” going forward “that all members of PMA board are committed to the PCUSA.”
A third evidence is the action of Committees on Ministry and executive presbyters who are using the new Form of Government’s pre-qualification of candidates for open pastoral ministry positions to test the allegiance to the denomination. If a candidate cannot successfully convince the COM and EP that they “would never lead a congregation out of the PCUSA” they are not allowed to proceed in the call process.
A fourth evidence is a policy now on the table on St. Andrews Presbytery that ascribes “covenant” language to ordination standards, likening the commitment of presbyters to the presbytery to a man and woman in the covenant of marriage.
Those who once demanded the table be open to everyone are now fencing any dissenters from gaining a seat.
Silencing the voices of people who voted against amendment 10A and continue to hold that ordination should not be extended to those unwilling to repent of behaviors the Bible calls sin, will not lead the denomination to a more righteous future. Likewise, a COM or EP that blackballs a pastor because he or she will swear allegiance only to Christ and not to any particular institutional expression of the church does not honor the very freedom of conscience that liberals so often tout.
What happened to the historic commitment of making room for the minority voice? What happened to the voices of justice all for inclusivity and theological diversity?
Curious, isn’t it, now that the minority has become the majority there are moves at every level to eliminate all dissenting voices?
It is not “curious” to some observers, who, ever since the Kenyon case in the 1970’s( when a pastor disagreeing on a secondary theological matter case was not ordained), have seen the handwriting on the wall. The “agree to disagree” mantra exists for many progressives only so long as they are in the minority. When they come into control, then it becomes “my way or the highway.” It is the story through the ages who seek power and control more than justice and mercy.
Why should anything these secular tyrants do surprise us?
This long, tortuous process of “disunion” is almost more than one can bear. Even at this late date, why can’t the two sides appoint their commissioners, divide the property, and go their separate ways? Ah, if only we could! It is too late for that now. We have lost.
But, we go on, deluding ourselves that victory is still possible, while we continue perfuming the corpse.
The PCUSA was doomed to division and ultimate separation twenty-five years ago. Surely everyone knew then, as they surely know now, that the secular humanists would never give up. They just kept chipping and chipping and chipping away, until they wore us down.
This was not necessary. It could have been stopped. Conservative “fat cat” churches from coast to coast, like Westminster Presbyterian Church in Nashville, could have snuffed the effort in their presbyteries. But, no, that sort of distateful work is better left to the rubes sitting in the pews of the small churches. After all, there’s no need for a wealthy elitist to get his hands dirty. Pogo was right: We met the enemy and it was us.
“Retreat” has been sounded. Now, blow “Taps.” PCUSA, RIP.
open mindedness seems to be a tool to get conservatives to share the wheel, then let go. After a 180’s been made, it’s discarded.
My comments below are not meant to jump into the political fray, but are focused on the point of the article about nomination processes. While I have my own political opinions about the issues, as all do, what keeps a presbytery or church or denomination honest and transparent in its working is not politics but process. Therefore, I am in favor of the idea of there being a better process by which moderatorial candidates for General Assembly are selected. It makes very little sense to allow a person to put her/himself forward to run in an election at the national level without even being able to obtain sufficient votes in the local district to receive their concurrence. I am not at all convinced the process being considered is a great one, but there should be some process that ensures that any candidate can show sufficient support to ensure that his/her candidacy is not simply self-promotion or an effort to split the vote.
Since we have a process by which people are nominated for other offices, why do we not simply act to bring the office of Moderator of General Assembly in line with the rest of the offices using the same nominating process? Yes, it might be a bit bulky and slow, but when electing a leader for a troubled and divided denomination, perhaps haste is not ideal.
Whatever process is finally decided upon, it should be made fair to all voices, majority and minority alike, but should require a certain show of support from those who are close colleagues of the potential moderatorial candidate. Without such a requirement of fairness and support, the office of moderator could quickly become either a puppet of the current power structure or a figurehead only, neither of which bodes well for those of any political persuasion within the denomination or affiliated with it in any way.
You could not be more correct. I left 5 years ago when the handwriting was already on the wall. All the talk about stay and fight was futile, wishful thinking.