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Howdy. We've moved from Cayce, but St. Elizabeth of South Rose Hill or Lizette de Waccamaw de Sud just don't do it for me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Peace, Unity and Purity?

Just in from an e-list I'm on. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has voted 57% to 43% to accept the Report on Peace, Unity and Purity in the church.

Some of the soul-searching on issues currently precluding unity & peace include the following.

  • Those of us associated with the Anglo traditions that have dominated the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) came to understand how much alienation and pain we have caused by past oppression of other racial and ethnic groups and by currently maintaining barriers to the full inclusion of those groups’ members, cultures, and gifts.
  • Those of us who identify our views as liberal came to understand how alienating it is for conservatives and evangelicals when their passionate commitment to holy living and upright conduct are labeled rigid and judgmental.
  • Those of us who identify our views as conservative came to understand how alienating it is for liberals when their passionate commitment to justice and compassion are labeled unbiblical.
  • Those of us who identify our views as moderate came to understand how alienating it is when those with passionate concerns on either end of the theological spectrum are labeled extreme and divisive.
  • Many of us came to understand how alienating it is for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons to be so regularly identified as a major threat to the peace, unity, and purity of the church.
So far, so OK. Lots of acknowledgement of how we've hurt one another.
  • Many of us also came to understand how alienating it is for those who support a ban on the ordination of non-celibate gay and lesbian persons to be accused of prejudice, and how alienating it is for those who oppose such a ban to be accused of moral laxity.
  • All of us came to see that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in its current factionalized state that we have all created together by our mutual stereotyping and misuse of power, fails to offer a suffering world a sign of the peace, unity, and purity that is God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, in order to stop arguing over ordination standards (my words):

...ordaining/installing bodies have the power to determine whether any officer-elect’s departure from the interpreted standard compromises essentials of Reformed faith and polity and thus should constitute a barrier to ordination.

What's the standard at issue? Variation from what standard might or might not be a barrier to ordination? This one:
G-6.0106 in the Book of Order:

b. Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life of obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historical confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman
(W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness
Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of Word and Sacrament.

Thought I'd mention it, since everyone seems to be paying attention to the Episcopalians this week. It'll be interesting to see what happens when Presbyteries begin to accept candidates for ordination who don't meet the standards of G-6.0106b. Another split? That's what they seem to be trying to avoid with this vote--wonder if the plan will work?

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