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Presbyterian Scholars Conference: What Happens When Mainliners Sit at Table with Split P’s?

(By Chuck Wiggins, The Presbyterian Outlook). “I often wonder what kind of shape the Presbyterian Church would be in today if the Orthodox Presbyterians, the PCA, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and ECO had not departed,” mused Joseph D. Small, former Presbyterian Church (USA.) Theology & Worship director.

Those particularly thought provoking words came during the recent Presbyterian Scholars Conference held October 18-19 at Wheaton College in Illinois.

A glimpse of that musing was evident as 30 scholars from various streams of the Presbyterian enterprise gathered to offer papers and exchange remarks on “the future of American Presbyterianism.”

From my perspective, the spirit and the tenor of the conference with scholars from the PC(USA), OPC, EPC, and ECO under one roof during both the lectures and at table during meals was — how shall I say it — downright genial.

Headlining a list of outstanding scholars besides Small, included Bradley Longfield of University of Dubuque Theological Seminary; OPC historian extraordinaire and Hillsdale College professor Darryl Hart; and George Marsden, distinguished professor from Notre Dame University and arguably the premier historian of American church history.

Perhaps the highlight of the conference was the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the publication of Longfield’s groundbreaking work, “The Presbyterian Controversy: Fundamentalists, Modernists & Moderates.” Longfield’s award-winning book has been widely regarded by Presbyterians of all theological stripes as an even-handed analysis of the fundamentalist-modernist controversies of the 1920s and 1930s and their aftermath. (In my opinion, previous historical narratives by mainline P’s have largely tended to dismiss departing conservatives as simplistic cranks; while the “split P’s” have approached their forbears uncritically with a kind of surreal, hagiographic reverence.)

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Three INPM Presbyteries Seek Church Planting Partners in the EPC

(The EPConnection). The EPC and National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM) ratified a fraternal relationship on September 8 that focuses on church planting in both countries. In October, the EPC was notified that three INPM presbyteries are ready to initiate a relationship with EPC presbyteries:

  • The Presbytery of de la Chontalpa, located in the state of Tabasco in southeast Mexico. This presbytery was organized in March 2016.
  • The Presbytery of de la Riviera Maya in the state of Quintana Roo. It is centered in Cancun, in southeast Mexico.
  • The Presbytery of the State of Morelos, located in south-central Mexico.

Adolfo Arias Job, INPM Executive Secretary, said the three presbyteries present unique church planting opportunities.

“The presbyteries of Chontalpa and Morelos are located in rural zones that are very needy,” he said, “and the Riviera Maya presbytery is in a tourist zone. For these reasons, we have given them all the freedom to evaluate and choose with which presbytery they would like to work in the EPC.”

EPC presbyteries and churches interested in pursuing a relationship with one of these INPM presbyteries should contact EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah at jeff.jeremiah@epc.org.

Visit the EPConnection web site.

Related articles:

EPC Partnership with National Presbyterian Church of Mexico Ratified

EPC Enters Fraternal Agreement with Presbyterian Church of Mexico

 

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Sarmiento Joins The Outreach Foundation Staff

Juan Sarmiento

Juan Sarmiento

Juan Sarmiento has been named Associate Director for Mission of The Outreach Foundation. He will officially begin his duties on November 1.

Since 1979, The Outreach Foundation has connected congregations and people in the United States with church partners around the world in Christ-centered evangelistic mission. Today, Outreach focuses on Presbyterian partners in places in the world where the church is growing and where it is facing opposition.

Sarmiento will join the Outreach team that focuses on building mission relationships that help global partners around the world train leaders, start new congregations, expand their outreach programs, and strengthen their ministries of compassion.

Rob Weingartner, Executive Director of The Outreach Foundation, observes, “Juan’s love for the Lord and commitment to evangelism are strong and clear. He is thoughtful and articulate, evangelical and Reformed, and will bring to Outreach a winsome ability to work across boundaries and bring people together in creative ways to bear witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ in word and deed.”

For the past two years, Sarmiento has worked as Evangelism Catalyst for Presbyterian World Mission. Prior to that, for six years, Sarmiento worked as director and chairman of the board for PM International, a mission agency that sends Latin Americans to serve in Muslim-majority contexts.

An ordained minister member of the Presbytery of San Fernando (CA), he served as a member of the Evangelism and Church Growth committee and moderator of the presbytery. He has served as a leader for English-, Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking congregations. Juan and his wife, Maricela, have a son, Jonathan.

Born in Venezuela, Sarmiento is a graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary and has done doctoral studies at Columbia and Louisville seminaries as well as advanced studies in linguistics at California State University-Los Angeles and Islamic studies at the Fuller School of Intercultural Studies.

outreach-foundationThe Outreach Foundation engages Presbyterians and global partners in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. Because our ministry is Kingdom work, not denominational work, we work with PCUSA, EPC, ECO, Fellowship Community congregations and others. We help congregations build long-term partnerships with the global church that are mutually transformational. Every person, project and partnership we support is directly involved in sharing the Gospel in word and deed.

Our work depends entirely upon the involvement and financial support of mission minded individuals, congregations and organizations. We receive gifts in our office and disburse them directly to partners around the world. Established in 1979, The Outreach Foundation is independently governed by Board of Trustees, all of whom are pastors or officers in their respective congregations.

For additional information, contact Outreach at 615/778-8881 or info@theoutreachfoundation.org, or visit the web site at www.thoutreachfoundation.org
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EPC Partnership with National Presbyterian Church of Mexico Ratified

By EPNews.

mexicopartnershipsigning

EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah (center) and INPM President (Moderator) Amador Hernandez (right) sign the official partnership agreement September 8 in Mexico while EPC Home Missionary John Bueno looks on. Bueno served as translator for the EPC delegation to the INPM General Assembly.

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (La Iglesia Nacional Presbiteriana de México or INPM) formally ratified an historic partnership on September 8 at the INPM General Assembly in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico. Attending the meeting from the EPC were Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk; Mike Moses, National Leadership Team chairman; and Bill Enns, EPC Associate Executive for Collaborative Ministries. The EPC 36th General Assembly approved a fraternal agreement with INPM in June.

The initial emphasis of the relationship is for INPM to send pastors to the United States to help plant churches among the growing Latino population, and for the EPC to send pastors to help INPM plant churches in ten cities in northeastern Mexico.

Jeremiah noted that the INPM leaders initiated the request to work with the EPC.

“They told us that they want to plant churches in large Mexican communities, and they’ve seen what we’ve been doing and want us to help them do that,” he said. “God has brought together two denominations in two different countries who both have a strong commitment to church planting.”

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EPC Enters Fraternal Agreement with Presbyterian Church of Mexico

By Carolyn Poteet*.

epc-mexico-reps

Photo courtesy of the EPC Communications Dept.

The 36th General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) formalized a growing partnership with the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (La Iglesia Nacional Presbiteriana de México or INPM) by approving a formal fraternal agreement last Friday (6/24/16).

The agreement will lay the groundwork for church planting in both the United States and northeastern Mexico. The relationship will allow the two denominations to consider new forms of missionary or ministerial involvement, mutual learning, and unify a search for new and relevant routes to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

“I firmly believe our partnership is a gift from God,” said Gerrit Dawson, the chair of the EPC’s permanent Committee on Fraternal Relations.

Three representatives of INPM joined the General Assembly the day before to bring greetings from the 6,000 Presbyterian churches in Mexico. Amador Hernandez, Adolfo Job and Camarillo Vasquez described their three primary objectives of the partnership: planting of churches in both countries, enhancing education in seminaries and local schools, and relating church to church as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Hernandez, the Moderator of the INPM General Assembly, told the commissioners, “Sometimes we think as a church that we are alone in the world, but the truth is when we unite with all the believers in Christ, we see that we are a great power for the glory of God. Our invitation is that we would come together and work as a team to share the gospel of Christ.”

Plans are being developed to plant churches in Charlotte, N.C., as well as in the EPC’s Presbytery of the Great Plains. The INPM also is planning a church plant in northeastern Mexico with a multi-ethnic team from Mexico, the U.S. and South Korea.

The INPM now has three formalized partnerships with churches in the United States – the EPC, the Reformed Church in America, and the Christian Reformed Church. The PCUSA had been in partnership with the INPM for more than 100 years, but the Mexican church ended that partnership in 2011 because of the PCUSA’s rulings on morality standards for ordained clergy.

In addition to the formalized agreement with the INPM, the EPC also approved an agreement with the 3.5-million-member Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (Fiangonan’i Jesoa Kristy eto Madagasikara).

*The Rev. Carolyn Poteet is a teaching elder with the EPC Presbytery of the Alleghenies and served as clerk for the Fraternal Relations Committee at last week’s EPC General Assembly.

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Potential Partnership with National Presbyterian Church of Mexico Holds Church Planting Promise

By EPNews.

inpseminary

Leaders of the EPC and the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INP) met in Mexico City in March to discuss a possible church planting partnership. From left: INP Secretary Adolfo Arias Job, EPC Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah, INP President (Moderator) Amador Lopez Hernandez, EPC Fraternal Relations Committee chair Gerrit Dawson, EPC Moderator Mike Moses, EPC Ruling Elder Bill Hammill, INP Vice President Danny Ramirez Celis, INP Treasurer David Monroy Adane, and EPC home missionary John Bueno.

A March meeting between the leaders of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INP) in Mexico City resulted in the two denominations proceeding toward a fraternal agreement for approval at each body’s General Assembly this summer.

The EPC was represented by Moderator Mike Moses, Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah, Fraternal Relations Committee chair Gerrit Dawson, EPC home missionary John Bueno (who served as translator), and Bill Hammill, a Ruling Elder at Lake Forest Church in Huntersville, N.C. (where Moses serves as Pastor). The INP leadership delegation included Secretary Adolfo Arias Job, President (Moderator) Amador Lopez Hernandez, Vice President Danny Ramirez Celis, Treasurer David Monroy Adane, and Camirillo Velazquez, General Director of the Juarez Institute.

Discussions about a potential ministry partnership began in October 2015, when INP Secretary Adolfo Arias Job invited Moses and others from the EPC to visit Mexico to discuss the possibility of a fraternal relationship that would focus on church planting. Specifically, INP wants to send missionaries to plant churches in Hispanic communities in the United States.

“I believe this is an historic ‘God moment’ for the EPC and INP in church planting,” Jeremiah noted. “In the providence of God, they reached out to us in the year that Mike Moses—an experienced church planter and member of the EPC Church Planting Team—was our Moderator.”

During the meetings, the members of the EPC team and INP leaders agreed that both groups were committed to the same love and passion for Christ and His gospel, and to the same Reformed doctrine.

“We were overwhelmed with the warm welcome and generous hospitality of our hosts and impressed with how easily we connected on a personal level,” Jeremiah said.

He added that the invitation to a church planting partnership is unique in that it encompassed two of the EPC’s strategic initiatives—global movement in addition to multiplication.

Read more …

Related article: Presbyterians in Mexico Cut Ties with PCUSA

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Carmen Answers FAQ’s from Church in Discernment

FAQAs hundreds of congregations in the Presbyterian Church (USA) continue to evaluate their denominational affiliation and as presbyteries continue to deal with requests for dismissal in a myriad of ways, people continue to ask questions.

Recently a church sent a list of what have become frequently asked questions.  My answers are my own and should not be construed to constitute legal nor financial advice of any kind.  I have sought to supply relevant links to source material were applicable.  The first 16 questions are also answered in a 50 minute video

1.Supply statistics concerning the growth/decline of the denomination in the recent past (20 years). What is the current trend?

The trend is revealed in this simple membership chart: 

PCUSA members losses 2006-2020

And further revealed in the 2014 Comparative Statistics posted on the PCUSA website. 

2. Why are churches leaving? What are the issues that result in churches entering the process called “Gracious Discernment”?

The primary issue can be described as two sides of the same coin: Authority and Submission.

If God is God (perfect, holy, infallible, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, truthful, gracious, etc) and God has spoken (in the Word of the Bible and in the Word made flesh, Jesus the Christ), then what God says is authoritative. Humanity either chooses to submit or not submit. Submission is called obedience or doing the will of the Father. Non-submission is called sin, it is contrary to God’s revealed will and it has consequences both here and in eternity. 

So, are you in a denomination that receives the Bible as the authoritative Word of God and actively submits to that Word in belief and practice? I Thessalonians 2:13. 

Are you in a denomination that receives Jesus as the once-for-all Savior and actively submits to His Lordship in belief and practice? 

Are you in a denomination that receives the Holy Spirit as the active presence of God, working within the believer to bring them into ever greater conformity with God’s will and actively submits its common life to the sanctifying power of the Spirit in bringing all things under God’s sovereign rule? 

The implications of the answers to those questions are significant for the individual believer, the local congregation and the denomination as a whole. And there is a vast difference or distance between the espoused theology (what’s on paper) and theology in practice (what’s actually happening) in the PCUSA. 

As some have examined these questions they have discovered that all three legs of the Presbyterian stool are now broken: theology, ethics/accountability, polity.  In order for their local church to faithfully achieve the mission to which God has called them locally, they feel compelled to realign with a denomination that will not hinder their witness, compete for their affection, misrepresent the Word of God in the world, and bear false witness to the Spirit’s transforming power over sin. 

3. Are there signs that there will be resolution to these issues in the future?

It depends on what you mean by resolution. There are efforts to not allow for but to normalize the acceptance of LGBTQQ lifestyles throughout the PCUSA.  If you are asking if I foresee an internal denominational discernment process that would reverse the trend by restoring the Word of God to its rightful place in the life of the PCUSA, followed by a repentance of recent decisions about leadership and moral behavior, the answer is no, I do not see that kind of resolution on the horizon.  (Certainly all will be resolved when the Lord returns but a conversation about the reading the signs of the times related to that is a different conversation. Read Matthew 24)

4. How many churches in the United States have left PCUSA in the last 15 to 20 years? 

This a moving target. In 2003 there were 11,064 churches in the PCUSA. At the end of 2014 there were 9,829. Not all of those 1235 congregations “left,” most were dissolved which means they died. Of the 9,829 churches in the PCUSA 5,358 ended 2014 with fewer than 100 members which puts their long-term viability into question. 

We know of 600+ churches that have been dismissed or disaffiliated from the PCUSA since we started tracking it in 2007. We do our best to maintain a list here: https://www.layman.org/discern/ The chart is the second resource listed on the page.

5. What churches in our presbytery have left and to what denomination did they go?

This is information that you should be able to get from your presbytery office. If not, you can sort our Excel file (its the second link on the page) by presbytery and find the churches that we are aware that have transitioned from the PCUSA to other Presbyterian and Reformed denominations. 

6. According to PCUSA, who owns the property of our church? 

Watch Lloyd Lunceford’s videos on Church property questions and read The Guide to Church Property Law, Second Edition.  To check the status of the law in your state, we’ve put together a chart

7. If we vote to become a part of a different Presbyterian denomination, what happens to the property?

To answer this question, you need to know: 

  • What is the status of the law your state
  • What does your presbytery dismissal process say? (Some of these may have been edited since adoption. Check your presbytery website for the latest version.)
  • What has been the experience of other churches dismissed from your presbytery?
  • What are the facts of your particular church property?  What do your founding documents say? What do your articles of incorporation and by-laws say? Has your church ever received material support from the presbytery? What statements, resolutions or declarations has your session made over the years related to the concerns over which you now want to depart? 

8. How many churches in in our state are currently in the “Gracious Discernment” process? How many in our presbytery?

With 50 states and 171 presbyteries, and the dynamic reality of this process, I cannot give you an accurate answer to his question. Your presbytery minutes should include information about churches in the dismissal process and the other presbyteries in your state should be posting similar information. 

9. How are per capita funds are being used at the administrative level of the denomination? 

The Office of the General Assembly has a per capita page on its website and the Per Capita Budget for the General Assembly is posted as a part of the meeting papers of the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly. 

10. Are per capita funds mandatory?

No. They are voluntary for churches although your presbytery is required to forward all per capita (collected and uncollected) for the member churches in its bounds. A growing number of presbyteries do not comply and forward only the per capita that churches voluntarily submit for support of the national church. This results in the OGA having to write off about $1 million each year in uncollectable per capita. 

11. Summarize the financial status of PCUSA.

You can read their internal financial reports in the meeting papers of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board. 

The denomination receives income from a variety of streams: Interest off of investments in restricted funds, interest off of investments in unrestricted funds, per capita, special offerings, bequests and contributions to mission support. 

Expenses have outpaced income for many years. Periodically a large unrestricted bequest will provide for a year in the black, but reliance on reserves and a shrinking base of support (declining membership) is pushing the PMA and the OGA to reconsider how they do business.  The 222nd General Assembly has several proposals for agency consolidation and reorganization before it for consideration. 

12. List the locations of administrative offices, the primary purpose they serve and their political involvement.

  • The headquarters building in Louisville, KY houses the Office of the General Assembly headed by the Stated Clerk, currently Gradye Parsons, and the Presbyterian Mission Agency, currently by headed interim exec director Tony de la Rosa.
  • The Stated Clerk is engaged politically and so are the advisory committees for social witness policy, women and racial ethnic concerns and the Justice committees, task forces and staff.
  • Office of Public Witness in Washington, DC. Primary purpose is lobbying, influencing Congress, on behalf of the social witness priorities of the PCUSA.
  • Presbyterian UN office at the UN in New York City. Primary purpose is lobbying, influencing the UN on behalf of social witness priorities of the PCUSA.
  • The Presbyterian Board of Pensions has offices in Philadelphia, PA and regional offices across the country. Their political efforts are confined to collaborative lobbying efforts around the affordable care act and non-profit taxation issues.
  • The Presbyterian Foundation has offices in Jeffersonville, IN just across the river from Louisville. They engage in what may seem like political work by their involvement in the positive investment the denomination is making Palestinian controlled parts of Israel.
  • Presbytery and Synod offices are spread out across the country and most are not expressly political.

The denomination also have affiliated camps and conference centers, colleges and universities and seminaries. I do not know if the denomination asserts a trust over all these properties and their political involvement varies widely. 

13. Describe the controversy during the unification of the northern and southern Presbyterian churches. What was the reason for uniting?

Presbyterian history is a history of division and reunion (see the Presbyterian Historical Society presentation on this). The 1983 Reunion was about reconciliation of the Northern and Southern branches of Presbyterian that separated in the days of the Civil War.  

14. Why did the PCUSA change its government by having each congregation create its own Manual of Operations?

The point of reference here is the development of the new Form of Government or nFOG.

15. What are the requirements for the ordination of pastors?

This question is addressed in a video on the PCUSA website

16. What discipline, if any, is administered to pastors who do not profess Jesus Christ as the one and only son of God and means to salvation?

None.  For example: John Shuck.

17. What discipline, if any, is administered to pastors who do not profess belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

None. For example: Jim Rigby

18. What discipline, if any, is administered to pastors who do not profess belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God?

None. For example: Layton Williams

19. What discipline, if any, is administered to pastors who profess that there are other methods to salvation than Jesus Christ?

None. For example: Rick Ufford-Chase – now the Associate for Interfaith Relations in the Office of Theology, Worship and Education in the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

See Charles Wiley recent post about the 2011 Presbyterian Panel survey.

20. What matters does the PCUSA have lobbyists involved? Do these matters involve Congressional members and/or the White House?

21. Describe the PCUSA’s political views on abortion, illegal immigration and gun control.

AbortionPresbyterians Pro Life has been doing amazing work but the PCUSA continues to fund abortions on demand through its benefits plan and advocate for abortion availability and accessibility for all.

Immigration – the sanctuary city movement is led by Presbyterians and the Stated Clerk has clearly articulated the PCUSA position in his denouncement of candidate Donald Trump. 

Gun controlthe action of the 2014 GA is illustrative on this point.

22. An ordained minister member of the PRT during an informational Q&A meeting told the congregation that if we interpreted Scripture like the Pharisees we would still be bound by the dietary laws of the O T.  How could I have responded? 

The issue is interpretation and hermeneutics. I would argue that until the Word of God is received by the Church for what it really is (I Thessalonians 2:13) and restored to its rightful place in the life of the church, the church cannot be the kind of light she is called to be in the culture. 

So, you might have pointed out that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law – and his meat was to do the will of the Father who sent him. So he fulfills the dietary laws of the OT.  Then you might have directed the teaching elder’s attention to Acts 10 and the revelation to Peter. Remember the vision of the sheet and the food?  In that text, God Himself declares all food clean.  There is NO equivalent nor even similar New Testament evidence that God’s will related to sexual practice has changed. And when we look at Jesus what we’re talking about is not reducing behavior to the bare minimum requirement of the Law but a call to Higher Righteousness, even Holiness, to live in full accord with the very will of the Father. 

23. Because I feel that women should be given equal opportunity to serve as pastors I’d like to ask about the percent of female pastors who are in the PCUSA vs. other Presbyterian denominations. 

First, please hear what I’m about to say remembering that I am a woman who spent 17 years in ordained pastoral ministry in the PCUSA and preached this past summer at the EPC General Assembly meeting.  How you feel is irrelevant to the conversation about ordination. Ordination is not a right.  It doesn’t much matter what we feel, what we want or what we think we deserve. What matters is what God has said, what God requires, what God wants, and what God is doing.  God ordains, we do not.  

If your local church wants to be in a Presbyterian denomination that ordains women you have three choices: PCUSA, ECO and EPC.  

According to the 2014 Comparative Statistics, the PCUSA membership is dominated by women (971K women to 696K men) and the PCUSA has more women serving as deacons and ruling elders than men. The PCUSA has more than 20,000 ordained ministers, 12,114 are in active ministry roles and 4, 474 of the active clergy are women and 1,695 of those women are pastors or associate pastors of churches.  So, less than 15% of PCUSA churches have a called and installed woman in a position of pastoral leadership. 

24. Please discuss in detail the position and actions taken at the PCUSA General Assembly Meeting concernin same-sex marriage.

  1. G6-0106b the “Fidelity and Chastity” requirement was added in the 1990’s, defended in 2001-2002 and then removed in 2010 by a vote of the General Assembly which was ratified by a majority of presbyteries in 2011
  2. In the meantime, benefits were extended to same-sex partners of those in the Presbyterian Board of Pensions medical plan.
  3. The 2012 GA upheld one man/one woman marriage but it was a heated battle
  4. The 2014 GA issued an Authoritative Interpretation of the constitution (AI) stripping the Book of Order of its meaning and then a majority of presbyteries voted to affirm same sex marriage in PCUSA churches by PCUSA ministers, ratifying the amendment 14F sent by the GA. 
  5. Since then a gay marriage has been performed in the chapel of the denomination’s headquarters building in Louisville and a married gay man how heads the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
  6. This GA will address overtures ranging from reversing 14F to apologizing to the LGBTQQ community for having ever barred them from full inclusion, leadership and marriage equality (Overture 50).

25. Why were the phrases “chastity in singleness” and “fidelity in marriage” removed from the Book of Church Order? Sexual immorality is mentioned many times in the Bible. What is the PCUSA’s definition of that term, and what is an example ?

The question of what the PCUSA would currently define as sexual immorality is open. The best I can do here is share with a few examples of people in ordained leadership in the PCUSA who would not have qualified under the “fidelity and chastity” clause:

  1. Alex McNeill, transgendered man and head of More Light Presbyterians
  2. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, self described “trans*gressive gendeerqueer,” and utilizes third person plural pronouns to talk about themself” They is a visiting professor of Ethics at the Pacific School of Religion.

26. If we want to stay together as a church but some want to stay in the PCUSA and others do not, how do we emerge from this as a unified body, one church? 

No matter what happens, some people are going to leave and your pastor may be one of them. If you vote to seek dismissal, some will leave to continue as members of a PCUSA church elsewhere. If you vote not to seek dismissal, some will leave because, in good conscience, they can no longer remain members of the PCUSA.  

27. Is there any way to stay in the PCUSA without contributing money to the General Assembly and without following them in their non biblical beliefs?

You can withhold or re-direct your per capita and you can simply not send any mission dollars upstream but as long as you’re in the PCUSA you’re subject to their authority and you are a collective part of their witness. Ordination is an act of the whole church so every time that an LGBTQ person is ordained in the PCUSA, you are implicitly participating. Which for me is like knowing living out Romans 1. Which is why I asked my presbytery to remove me from the ordered ministry and set aside my ordination in 2011.

28. When the members of the presbytery PRT or GDC or AC respond to the questions of our church’s discernment team, session and congregation, will the answers be truthful or will they be slanted more toward what the denomination’s preferred outcome, telling us what they want us to hear and believe?

Expect spin – from everyone. Check the facts. Read the links. This is all very public and nationally they’re quite proud of themselves so they post stuff on the PCUSA sites all the time. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah, they’ve forgotten how to blush.

 

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First Presbyterian Church Roanoke finally in the EPC

By Tiffany Stevens, The Roanoke Times.

first-pres-roanokeOn Sunday (2/7/14), First Presbyterian Church will change its moniker to First Evangelical Presbyterian Church after finalizing negotiations with the branch’s previous denomination, which members voted to leave in October.

The name change is part of the congregation’s formal alignment with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. First Presbyterian is among hundreds of churches that decided to leave the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA) because of progressive policies adopted by the national Presbyterian church. Such issues include allowing pastors to conduct ceremonies for same-sex couples, ordaining gay clergy, and reproductive rights.

About 80 percent of the church’s active members who voted on Oct. 18 were in favor of leaving. The vote was accepted by the church’s governing elders and later approved by Presbytery of the Peaks.

“As yet, we aren’t certain the exact number of those who were opposed whether they will continue with the majority or seek membership elsewhere,” pastor Bob Smith said in a written statement Friday. “Over the course of our 165 years of ministry in the valley First church planted nine other congregations, six of whom remain within the PCUSA fold. So, there are several options available for those who desire to stay within the denomination.”

Negotiations for the historic church’s “gracious dismissal” went on for more than two years, according to a news release from the church. As part of the settlement, First Presbyterian will maintain control of its church building but will pay the Presbytery of the Peaks $800,000 over the next 10 years and surrender the title to the church’s manse.

….

Read the entire article at Roanoke.com

 

Related articles: 

Sola Moola: Churches paying big bucks to get out of the PCUSA 

 

 

 

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Listen to Tuesday’s #CarmenTalk: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Civil Discourse

carmen adThe final #CarmenTalk, aka Conversation with Carmen, of 2015 aired December 15.  You are encouraged to listen here at Layman.org

Discussed on #CarmenTalk this month was “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Civil Discourse.” 

As a disciple of Jesus who seeks to advance His Kingdom purposes everyday in every way, I am a voracious consumer of the ideas, news, commentary, opinion and conversation swirling around us.  You can either think of it as a deafening cacophony that disables your ability to think or you can ask God to give you eyes to see, ears to hear, a mind to comprehend and a voice to help others make sense of the often nonsensical.  My hope is to help you connect what seem like otherwise wholly disconnected realities. That exercise begins by pulling out a few dots, examining them, and then connecting them to others until a coherent picture of reality emerges. Once we see where we are, we are able to walk purposefully and lead others who are lost in the veritable fun house of today’s distorted discourse.

Life

You may have read this week about the Ohio investigation into the practices of Planned Parenthood clinics. During the investigation, the state discovered that three clinics were disposing of aborted babies in landfills. While you may be horrified by this on many levels, the question we will consider is why would lawmakers think that people who dismember pre-born humans while still in the womb would then be able to morally interpret and apply a law that expects them to dispose of the remains of that procedure in a “humane manner?”  

The use of the word “humane” assumes humanity. It assumes a common definition of human. It assumes someone knows the difference between humane and inhumane, human and inhuman.

Are these reasonable expectations in a culture where The Humane Society advocates the humane treatment of non-humans while an organization whose title includes “Parenthood” keeps people from becoming parents by killing the very “things” that “would be” human? 

Does it seem reasonable to expect an abortionist who treats the pre-born as a tumor, parasite, intruder, or other matter that is medically excised from a body, to then treat the remains as human?  

Then to the larger question: if the law on the books in Ohio is proven to be inapplicable in this case because the definition of “humane” is sufficiently vague, what other words in what other laws do not mean what we once thought they meant? 

Liberty

first amendment freedom of religionIf the first freedom sought by those who came to these shores was a land where they would be free to practice the religion of their choice without state interference, then how do we weigh the preservation and application of that freedom in a world where ISIS seeks a global caliphate? In view of the political proposal to ban entrance into the United States of all people who profess a particular faith, we will discuss the nature of religious liberty. How might we balance that liberty with the safety and protection of the citizenry already inhabiting this land? Indeed, how are we both “the land of the free and the home of the brave” today? 

What is God’s view of the matter and how can we give voice to the divine and eternal perspective which is rarely, if ever, considered in the current political conversation?  

Is it not ironic that some advancing the argument that Muslims should be prohibited from entering the U.S. do so because the U.S. is a “Christian” nation? Are we? What is the difference between a theocracy and a democracy that grew out of a particular theology that all men are created equal by a personal sovereign God? 

The Pursuit of Civil Discourse

We also need to be prepare to enter into conversation with others who disagree with our assessment of reality. But how do you tell the truth without coming off as a know-it-all?  We’re going to use current issues and the characters currently on the political stage to discern how best to discuss issues and people in ways that are Godly – noble, beautiful and true.

Rules of engagement: 

  • Treat God as God
  • Treat people as people
  • Judge ideas based on the merit of their alignment with final personal reality
  • Remember: all people are equal, all ideas are not.

In preparation for this portion of the conversation, read this

And yes, we’ll wrap up the call with a survey of “all things Presbyterian.” You can preview those topics by perusing the “Presbyterian News and Analysis” section of Layman.org. 

 

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Moses elected as moderator of the EPC General Assembly

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Mike Moses

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Rev. Dr. Mike Moses, the founding and lead pastor of Lake Forest Church in Huntersville, N.C., was unanimously elected moderator of the 35th General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church yesterday.

“The greatest honor in my life is to open the Word of life,” he said, and being elected moderator is an “additional honor. I am humbled. Thank you for your trust. I have been in the EPC for a long time, and this is a sacred assembly to me.”

He said yes to being considered for moderator because “I love the EPC.”

Moses, a teaching elder in the EPC for more than 16 years, received his bachelor of arts in history from the College of William and Mary and a Masters in Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. He was awarded his Doctorate in Ministry from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2007.

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Former EPC moderators and family pray for Mike Moses

As founding pastor of Lake Forest Church, he has watched the church grow from a group of 42 adults meeting in a skating rink in Oct. 1998 to church of 2,000 people with three Lake Norman campuses.

Of the church he serves, Moses said that “We try to point to Jesus before all else … We are a missional church … We join the mission of God to go out beyond the four walls.

Also during the morning business session, Scott Griffin, a ruling elder at First Presbyterian Church of Kent, Washington since 1987, was nominated as moderator-elect of the 26th General Assembly.

He retired as a senior executive of the Boeing Company in 2007, and has been actively involved in providing pro bono consulting and coaching to non-profit and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) boards since then.

Serving as moderator in the EPC requires a three year commitment. The first year the elected individual serves as moderator-elect, then their year as moderator and then a third year as the immediate past moderator. In the spirit of parity between teaching and ruling elders, the role of moderator alternates between pastors and lay leaders each year.

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Mike Moses and Scott Griffin.

The 35 moderators of the EPC include:

2014     Mr. Gordon Miller 
2013     Dr. William Dudley
2012     Mr. Ken Roberts 
2011     Rev. Doug Klein
2010     Mr. Rob Liddon
2009     Rev. Nate Atwood
2008     Mr. Allen Roes
2007     Rev. Bill Vogler
2006     Dr. Paul Heidebrecht
2005     Rev. Bill Meyer
2004     Dr. Orin Littlejohn (deceased)
2003     Dr. Ron DiNunzio
2002     Mr. Knox Sherer
2001     Rev. Darryl “Bud” Sparling
2000     Mr. John Graham, III
1999     Dr. James McGuire
1998     Mr. Alan Smith
1997     Dr. Richard Little
1996     Mr. Claude “Buck” Russell, Jr. (deceased)
1995     Rev. Wayne Hoffman
1994     Mr. William Johns
1993     Dr. Graham Smith (deceased)
1992     Mr. John Adamson
1991     Dr. William Flannagan
1990     Mr. James Rimmel
1989     Dr. Andrew Jumper (deceased)
1988     Mr. Richard Heidtman (deceased)
1987     Dr. Perry Mobley
1986     Mr. Roger Vonder Bruegge
1984     Mr. Donald Harms
1983     Dr. James Van Dyke
1982     Mr. Irvin Rinehart (deceased)
1981     Rev. Calvin Gray

 

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