Yesterday, the Nominating Committee of Pittsburgh Presbytery placed my name in nomination for teaching elder commissioner to the 220th General Assembly of the PCUSA that will convene here in Pittsburgh at the end of June 2012.
In the spring and summer of this year, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted on and then made a historical change in policy; one that allows openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members to become ordained ministers, elders and deacons. In July, when the policy went into effect, no one knew exactly what the new world we were entering would look like. This weekend, we begin to see the joy and extraordinary gifts that our church will receive.
As I recently marked the 34th anniversary of my being ordained to the office of pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), I can say that I have witnessed my fair share of troubles in the church. All of this has prompted, from me, this meditation upon Christian love, informed by Paul’s reflections.
Toward the end of August, Hunter Farrell, the director of Presbyterian World Mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shared with the church that the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico has taken official action to sever connection with the PCUSA.
“Reflecting God’s Heart” was the theme of the More Light Presbyterians’ national conference held last weekend in Third Presbyterian Church in Rochester, NY. From start to finish, the worship, receptions, meals, workshops and evening movie time were all geared to fulfill the prayer from the last verse of the poem of our 17th century Pilgrim ancestor, John Robinson: “Enlarge, expand all Christian souls to comprehend your love.”
The way I see it, for the last thirty years, our leaders have focused not on what Christ calls us all to do, but on that which divides us. We’ve focused not on including and welcoming diversity in theology and worldly condition, but on sequestering into our own theological corners and enforcing exclusionary rules.
This week, two Presbyterian groups will be looking for solutions that will comfort conservative Presbyterians who are anxious about the church, and today, I write with a solution that I hope they consider.
I have had only two encounters with Rev. Joan Gray, Moderator of the 217th General Assembly (2006-2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Both of them have been memorable and helpful to me in understanding how to be a Christian and a Presbyterian.
This past Tuesday, the highest ranking court in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission, rendered decisions in cases concerning the long-awaited ordinations of two devout Presbyterians; Scott Anderson who is gay and Lisa Larges who is lesbian.
This spring, with other former moderators, Rev. Lamar signed a letter calling for unity in the face of the ratification of Amendment 10A. Now in retirement in upstate New York, I sought him out last week and asked him to share with me, specifically, how the church can best do that now. I treasure his wisdom and want to share it with you here.