Saturday, June 14, 2014

Open Response to Session and Open Lettter to Lead Pastor & Head of Staff

Wonder. Awe. Glad Praise. Peace. These are what I've been predominantly experiencing this week. It shouldn't be surprising but I continue to be blown away by our awesome God. Whenever I have stepped out in faith and followed his lead, he has always equipped, provided and protected me. He is steadfast loving-kindness.  And, this time is no different. If you're following the denominational discernment in the little corner of the world where I've been planted, here's the latest. You will remember I shared An Open Letter to Session last Friday.  I remember my overwhelming feelings of sadness when I first got the news. I spoke up at the Town Hall most reluctantly, and only because I felt such a Spirit-pressing. I thought I was alone in my feelings. Then, I started to hear from others. I could not have imagined all that is now happening or the people God has brought to me. Now, I feel affirmed and encouraged by your sharing and your prayers. Thank you. Thanks also to those who distributed our letter widely. That too was unexpected and affirming. I believe in the unity of the body of Christ. I am not naive, however, to think we won't have differences. Our challenge is to continue to love one another right here, right now, despite our differences, and live together in His joy and unity, instead of retreating or leaving. I am glad that God has brought me the strength and wisdom to do so. I am also grateful to God for giving me the privilege of listening to you, my family in Christ and being a voice for the many of you who are hurting and unable, reluctant, or fearful to speak for "fear of repercussions." I pray for shalom for you.  May God help each of us find our voices and His peace. May we come together in a community of graciousness that invites companionship not moral certitudes and restfulness not acquisitiveness/unthinking pursuit of ends that don't show a love for neighbor. Let us turn to Jesus unitedly and become blessing bearers of his justice and love, reconciliation and healing.

Wednesday, this week, I received an email from two Session representatives, who also asked to meet before the straw poll ended.  I share our response below verbatim with the exception is not using the names of our session reps/pastor.

Session reps: Please see our attached Open Response to Session. Thank you, in advance, for sharing it with the rest. Sadly, we are over-committed and cannot schedule meetings for the time you request. We really weren't kidding when we said this is bad timing. Surely, you must know this. Historically, IPC attendance always goes down starting June 15th. Thanks for all that you and Session do too.

​Lead Pastor: Thanks again for sharing our Open letter with Session last week. Please see attached our Open Letter to you as our beloved Lead Pastor and Head of Staff. Thanks for your pastoral, impartial, and fair leadership and care of *all* of us at IPC. We do love you! :)

Holding us all up in unceasing prayer for Jesus' peace, and streams of the Trinitarian unity and love to flood our lives and enlighten our hearts and minds. To our awesome great God be the glory and the power. May the Spirit helps [sic] us walk worthy.

Linda Del Crognale (Ruling Elder and Deacon) and Anita Coleman (Deacon)

An Open Letter to Session - June 13, 2014

Thanks for writing us. We very much appreciate your gracious response. Sadly, you’ve missed the point.

Since our open letter to session, we have heard from many other IPC-ers, about their losses, suffering, wounds, and brokenness. IPC is a deeply wounded church (sexually and otherwise). There is a great deal of fear, shame, and feelings of great disenfranchisement: “Session never listens to us”, “please keep speaking up, don’t leave our church,” “pushed out wonderful people” “we don’t need this,” “discouraged,” “hurting so much,” “the loss of so many ministries,” etcetera. They affirm our original request. Now, we beg you, once again, please refrain from the straw poll. Plan a period of united congregational prayer first. This is the all-church email for which we continue to pray and wait patiently.

It is also into this context of suffering and fear that we want to highlight a key aspect of our covenantal fellowship with God; we, the local church are a microcosm of Christ’s body, a new kind of society because of Jesus’ work on the Cross. Our new birth in Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit empowers us, to overcome the usual barriers of the world that divide and alienate such as race, money, gender, and to share life together as an “IPC family.” In doing so, we are a visible witness and foretaste of the heavenly kingdom that Jesus inaugurated on earth. If the often used phrase “IPC family” is not mere rhetoric, and we are a family in Christ, who honor him as our Lord, it is imperative we pray together first. Not as one small part of the body staining and turning the whole in a pre-determined direction, but as the whole turning pointedly, unitedly to our living Triune God and seeking his will. Christ is our head and we must seek to hear and listen for his voice together first. (Ephesians 4: 11-16)

On a mundane, practical level, ongoing dismissals have caught our attention. E.g. Last month’s PJC ruling in the case of the property policy of the NYC Presbytery. In light of these, we, again, urge unified prayer, encourage exploring reconciliation, and slowing down. Please stop the straw poll. Begin healing our congregation. Start with congregational prayer. Let us come before our Lord together, on our knees.

The PLR SCT looked to Scripture first and we share some of what they used in the hope that “hearts will be enlightened so that we may know the hope to which he has called us, to the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints (Ephesians: 1: 18). Let us become humbly dependent on God’s work of building through us as God’s workers, and God’s work of protecting through us as God’s ‘guards.’ (Psalm 127: 1-3). Let us walk from darkness into light for as someone once said, ‘What you hide owns you’ (I John 1: 5-7). Let us join in Jesus’ work in our world and not follow our own agendas. Let us look to the interests of others, especially those hurting in our church (Philippians 2: 1-5, 14-16) and not let the tyranny of the majority, which is the world’s way rule in God’s kingdom too. Let our cry for revival reap God’s gracious awakening (Psalm 126). Let us live in the confidence of Jesus’ perfect love with nothing to fear (I John 4: 18). Let us grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4: 11-16).”

Thank you. Please also see our attached letter to Pr. Scott as Head of Staff.

Humbly, Respectfully, Lovingly and Truthfully, In Christ,

Linda Del Crognale (Ruling Elder and Deacon) and Anita Coleman (Deacon)

An Open Letter to Lead Pastor and Head of Staff - June 13, 2014

Dear Pr.

In response to our open letter to session, we have heard from IPC-ers, about their losses, suffering, wounds, and brokenness. Some have told us they are “afraid to speak,” and shared how “disenfranchised” and “discouraged” they feel. They have encouraged us to “keep speaking up” and “don’t leave our church;” apparently, different others and dissenting voices have been encouraged by you to leave IPC or made to feel unwelcome. We are dismayed by this. Church, the body of Jesus, the visible Kingdom of God that he launched on earth cannot be a place of fear, shame or elitism. You are our beloved pastor with a pastoral heart for all. So, we have begged Session, once again, to refrain from the straw poll and to plan a period of unified congregational prayer first. This is the email we are praying to see church-wide. We are grateful and encouraged by Session’s incorporation of elements from our letter into formal discernment but disappointed they missed the main point – prayer and discernment before request to Presbytery for formal dismissal and discernment. Our Open Response to Session is attached for your convenience. We have also shared with Jennifer and Steve a copy of this, our letter to you, to share with the rest of Session.

We are writing to you now as our lead pastor and head of staff. Should Session proceed with the straw poll (which the most recent email dated 06/12/14 indicates they plan to do), we want to honor our ordination vows and covenantal fellowship with God through our IPC family. We hope that you will help us do so. Our voices pleading for prayer and true discernment before anything else need to be heard by the congregation. Thus, we feel it is only fair and right that you grant us as much time and access to all the resources of our church (e.g. communication) that has been given to Session. Session has made a one-sided case and recommendation for leaving PC (USA) and joining ECO. We humbly ask you to help us correct and balance this.  Will you, please help us? Here below are some specific ways:

Would you please make sure that opportunities are given to us to address the congregation, especially on the 15th and the 22nd? Would you please share our June 7th Open Letter to Session on the IPC Discernment web page, and in the straw poll email reminders and other church-wide communications? Will you authorize the provision of a prominent annotation and link to the Eyes on Christ discernment resources? We are willing to work with our communication staffer Clair (and others) on the exact web address and language for all this. In the interest of fairness and because the open discernment process by PLR is now open to two different interpretations, all this should be done before the straw poll starts. Finally, we would also like IPC to provide everybody with a balanced printed Discernment resource guide that adds the views and corrections we have shared, along with a few other resources. Again, this should be done before the straw poll starts. We can provide these resources in electronic form.

Thank you.

In His Grip,

Linda Del Crognale (Ruling Elder and Deacon) and Anita Coleman (Deacon)


  1. It is a blessing anytime GOD'S people can assemble together and reason with one another peacefully. We must love each other and hate the sin. Some things may not be a sin but, they are a weight. We must lay aside every weight, and sin. We must remember that we must draw one another with love and kindness Our job is to love- God will separate the tare from the wheat. If we try to separate the tare ourselves, we will do more harm than good, because it is not our job- It's God's Job! Let's do our job by showing perfect love- ask God to perfect your love for HIS people!
    By: Jenifer Johnson- Author of book" Attempted Murder Of The Dreamer: Dream Killers-

  2. Thank you, Jenifer, for your words of insight and encouragement. Blessings to you.


Thank you for taking the time to encourage me with your feedback. Blessings.