Monday, April 27, 2015

Joint "Solution" not "Discernment" Team

I've been puzzling over the name that my church Session uses for the joint team of Presbytery representatives and church representatives. My church keeps calling them the "Joint Solution Team."  The PLR Property Policy of June 2013 (that my church claims to follow as per page 13 of their printed Discernment Guide), however, uses quite a different name for this time: Joint Discernment Team (Section D of the 12 property policy, and also page 140 of the discernment book Eyes on Christ). The language used by Session is most revealing and here's my takeaway: Session has shaped the process to market their recommendation. Despite the rhetoric of "discernment," there has been little opportunity for other points of view to be heard. Hence, there's been little balance in this process. Now all that is really left for the church representatives to persuade the Presbytery representatives into acceptance of a "solution" to leave the presbytery and the denomination. I know my language is harsh but I cannot apologize for it or temper it; I did not come to this conclusion easily. I asked a number of questions first: Why is there nobody from IPC who wants to #StayPCUSA on the Joint team? After all 20% of the congregation voted in the straw poll not to enter discernment. Also, will it not be up to the presbytery at the end of the JDT work to determine who is the true PCUSA? Shouldn't the minority voice be given representation on the JDT? Shouldn't Presbytery have equal representation? (Presbytery only has 3 reps). Is this justice?
I also understand more clearly why the Trinity #staypcusa supporters called their project the "Fairness Project." There has been very little fairness here.  All sides of the issues are never presented. Here's another case in point: A sermon on Homosexuality and a Town Hall presented the same position. Yet, we formerly had a Parish Associate the Rev. Michael Regele whose book "Science, Scripture and Same Sex Love" presenting a different point of view has just been published. (Full Disclosure: I wrote the book study guide for this). Mike was a former beloved member and teacher of our Adult Education classes. Why has Session not invited Mike to share with the congregation his study on this divisive issue?

So, here's my prayer - Psalm 135 - for my church and for all followers of Jesus in the midst of our confusion.  Save us, Jesus. 

15 I turn to my God for justice.  
"The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
          the work of human hands.
16  They have mouths, but they do not speak;
          they have eyes, but they do not see;
17  they have ears, but they do not hear,
          and there is no breath in their mouths.
18  Those who make them
          and all who trust them
          shall become like them.

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