The Polity Conference, the Tecumseh Administrative Commission report and a sign

ahazBy Viola Larson

The Presbyterian News Service reports that on October 14-16 during the annual Polity Conference, Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons preached about Ahaz and his refusal of a sign from the prophet Isaiah. He spoke of a sign needed by those in leadership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and concluded that the sign, unlike the apostle John’s dream of the new Jerusalem, was that God was not done. There are still budgets, committee meetings and sermons that need attention.

Connected to the news posting are links for the Polity Conference schedule and various workshops and handouts for the workshops. One of the workshops was entitled “Workshop A4 – Dismissing Congregations to a Reformed Denomination – A Panel Discussion” It was led by Laurie Griffith, Manager of Judicial Process and Social Witness of the Office of the General Assembly. One of the handouts was The Tecumseh Administrative Commission Report from the Maumee Valley Presbytery.

The report is written by those who participated in an AC which oversaw the dismissal of the First Presbyterian Church of Tecumseh, Michigan. The outcome of that process was that the larger body of First Presbyterian was required to leave without the church property. While there are always problems and sin on all sides in such disputes, I found the report troubling and wondered why this particular report was used for such a workshop. The implications are many, and for that reason I have written an e-mail to Ms. Griffith asking her why the paper was used, and will report on her answer if I receive one.

In the mean time I have several thoughts about the AC report. First, the report and the actions of the AC reminded me very much of the actions of the AC that was at first put over Fremont Presbyterian Church in Sacramento. However the actions of the AC in Sacramento were challenged by several wise and faithful teaching elders. The actions of the Sacramento Presbytery changed and the outcome of that change was that Fremont entered the Evangelical Presbyterian Church with their property and with a tiny group of PCUSA members nested as a church on their campus.