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?