Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Birth

Birth is a wonderful and painful thing. This past week, 2,100 Presbyterians gathered in Orlando to give birth to two separate organizations. As some of you have already heard, a new denomination was formed, The Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians. More than 100 congregations, many with great sadness, cast off the lines tying them to the dock of the PCUSA and set sail in this grand new adventure. The rest of us stood, waving and wishing them well, rejoicing as well in that we are their one tie back to the PCUSA.

However, the rest of us had a birth, or rebirth, of our own. We come back to our congregations with a fresh realization that narrative trumps numbers. We come seeking a new way of doing church. What new way, you ask? For churches willing to commit to one another within this fellowship, we come together in something very much like the parish council which FPC Ennis has been a member of for almost 40 years! However, our dialogue takes on a new form. We ask how God has been working within the walls of our congregations, what ministries the Holy Spirit has led us to support and promote outside the walls of our congregations, we commit ourselves and our families to study of the word at home and not only in church, we share ways God has challenged us to share time and talents, and we seek to develop new worshiping fellowships outside of our own Sunday morning gathering.

In short, we promise to be the church God has always called us to be and we share with one another how close we are coming.  It means we wish to remain accountable to one another, share in best practices of ministry, eliminate the air of suspicion and mistrust that has, at times, existed between higher governing bodies within the PCUSA and the local congregations, and to become more transparent with one another.

In many ways this means we change everything. For most of you in the pew it changes nothing. We will do the same ministry we have always done. We remain firmly implanted within the PCUSA. We continue the wonderful ministry to our shut-ins and nursing home folks. We go to presbytery meetings, even though that may have been one thing many of us would have been willing to change! We are committed to inclusivity, gender equality, and bringing the justice and mercy of Jesus Christ to the world around us. Our Gospel and preaching remain as firm as they have always been.

What an exciting time to be a part of the PCUSA!

Pastor Craig