Special Edition Newsletter
Your presbytery staff has assembled this special edition newsletter to share information that we hope will interpret the General Assembly's actions. We have included resources, thoughts from various Presbyterian related groups and pastoral letters. We have enveloped this entire process and each piece of the newsletter in prayer as the foundation of our faith in Jesus Christ. Also remember that we are NOT a two-issue denomination. We are a vibrant denomination that has planted nearly 250 new worshipping communities in the past few years and who continues to be active in spreading the Gospel, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and caring for orphans and widows across the globe EVERY DAY! We are thankful that you are part of the PC(USA) family with us!
|PGA Commissioners |
Karen Allamon Pastor, Rock Spring
Gwen Garrison Radcliffe
Phil Hamilton Peachtree City, First
Byeong Cheol Han Pastor, Korean Central
Mary Martin St. Luke's
Gray Norsworthy Pastor, John's Creek
Joanne Nurss North Decatur
Jihyun Oh Staff Chaplain, Grady Hospital
Mardee Rightmyer Morningside/Eastminister
Elizabeth Shelvin Alpharatta
Lyndsay Slocum Associate, Rosewell
Rob Sparks Pastor, Fairview
Ken Whitehurst Trinity, Decatur
The Prayer Offered by Moderater Heath Rada at GA
Be in our hearts, in our entire beings as we relate to one another and make significant decisions that will impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of our sisters and brothers in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
We recognize that the mantle that has been placed on our shoulders is a heavy one; but God, thank you that we don't have to carry it alone.
We recognize that the people around us indeed are people we love and for whom we care; but we don't always see things eye to eye.
Somehow, you have placed us into a world where we bring our differing opinions and ideas; and though they may conflict, you tell us that we are still to care for one another and respect one another.
So God, enter our hearts so that can be true; especially when we have a passion for these issues that makes us sometimes find it difficult to separate our desires from your will.
Help us, also, to recognize that not all of us will get our way.
Help us to be able to minister and speak to and care for the people across our church who will hurt no matter what our decisions will be.
Help us to focus on the fact that these are not the issues that define who we are as your children; but instead it is the fact that you sent us your son, Jesus Christ, and that we all love him and we thank you to the very bottom of our hearts for that gift.
|Pastoral Letter on Marriage from the Moderator, Stated Clerk, and Executive Director|
June 19, 2014
To congregations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Earlier today, the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved a recommendation from its Assembly Committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues allowing for pastoral discretion to perform "any such marriage they believe the Holy Spirit calls them to perform," where legal by state law.
They also approved a recommendation to change language in the Book of Order to indicate that "marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman."
Both decisions came with much thought, discussion, and prayer, and clearly the entire body that is the PC(USA) will be interpreting these actions for some time.
Please know that the same triune God in whom we place our hope, faith, and trust in is still in control, and that the assembly's action today is the result of deep discernment to hear God's voice and discern God's will.
We concur with the feelings expressed by Teaching Elder Commissioner Jeffrey Bridgeman, moderator of the Assembly Committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues, during his presentation to the assembly.
"The apostle Paul tells us that ours is, in fact, 'the ministry of reconciliation' as 'ambassadors of Christ,' and he died for us so that we might be reconciled, that we might become reconcilers," Bridgeman said.
In this season of both happiness and sadness over the assembly's decisions, we call on you to remember the overflowing grace and love God gifts us with, and to take seriously our charge to bestow the same grace and love on one another.
In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,
Ruling Elder Heath K. Rada
Moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014)
The Reverend Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Ruling Elder Linda Bryant Valentine
Executive Director, Presbyterian Mission Agency
|Executive Presbyter Letter to Pastors
June 24, 2014
Dear Friends in Christ,
The 221st General Assembly of the PC(USA) is now over and all commissioners, observers, and mid council employees are back home. We experienced and observed a wide range of emotions last week, from elation to profound disappointment, from bold courage to paralyzing fear. Our church made some significant decisions which some people believe are more faithful than ever before, while some believe are a departure from scripture and certainly from tradition. We now have to discern how to be the Church together and continue to proclaim the Good News of Jesus saving grace to this hurting and broken world.
Since most of you have undoubtedly read the outcome of decisions, I will not go into detail about them. You can also access PC-Biz through the PCUSA website for precise information. I want to convey my deep concern about our presbytery and our individual churches in light of some decisions that may prove to be very polarizing. There are those who are celebrating because they believe that the marriage decisions are more faithful to the Good News of the Gospel than prior decisions and definitions. However there are other individuals and congregations who are grieving because they see the redefinition of marriage and the freedom for clergy to perform same gender weddings as a departure from scripture and tradition. What I have observed both last week and long before is that there are very faithful Christians who hold each of these stances. People's views differ according to their interpretation of Scripture and life experiences. Nonetheless, faithful Christians feel passionately about this issue, and we must be very intentional in order to have ongoing respectful dialog so that we can be the Church together.
GA's decision for divestment is just as divisive as some see the outcome as a breach with our Presbyterian and Jewish relationships, and others view it as a justice issue of standing in solidarity with Christians in Palestine. This decision for many people is very personal as well as political. It is theological and spiritual as well. And it is essential that we convey to our Jewish brothers and sisters that we do value our relationships with them individually and collectively. People feel intense passion on both sides of this issue, and again, we must find intentional ways of holding respectful dialog so we can move forward as a Church.
The new moderator of GA, Heath Rada, continued to highlight the need for reconciliation throughout the assembly, and especially in light of the decisions made concerning same gender marriage and divestment. I am committed to our presbytery doing everything possible to work toward mutual forbearance and understanding. Our own infighting will do nothing to help us build up the Kingdom nor serve as a witness to Christ message of peace and grace. As leaders of the church we need to work together to strengthen our churches and move them forward in their mission and ministry. God has a plan for the Church, the Body of Christ, of which we are just one expression. God has a plan for the PC(USA) too, and I pray that we will work to discern God's plan for us.
I am here to resource and support you as pastors and church leaders in any way. Please call on me and the other congregational consultants to be of service to you. I will close with the end of the prayer that Moderator Heath Rada prayed after the vote for the redefinition of marriage.
Help us to focus on the fact that these are not the issues that define who we are as your children; but instead it is the fact that you sent us your Son, Jesus Christ, and that we all love Him and we thank you to the bottom of our hearts for that gift.
With confidence that the peace of Christ will prevail,
|Congregational Letter from a Pastor
June 25, 2014
Many of you have been asking me about the actions of our recent General Assembly meeting which was held last week in Detroit, Michigan. Just a quick reminder of Presbyterian polity... the General Assembly is a gathering which takes place every other year, and it is composed of an equal number of Teaching Elders (ministers) and Ruling Elders representing the 172 presbyteries in our denomination. This year there were about 650 voting commissioners at the meeting.
While the Assembly does have the authority to address a variety of different subjects, it is also a tenet of Presbyterian polity that the General Assembly cannot bind the conscience of an individual. In other words, you can be a good Presbyterian and agree or disagree with the actions of a General Assembly!
During the Assembly meeting, there were opportunities to celebrate a number of exciting ministries being undertaken by Presbyterians around the world. There were two issues, however, which have made the secular news and have raised a number of issues for many people. My goal in this letter is first, to clarify what the Assembly actually did; and, secondly, to share with you the response of the Roswell Presbyterian Church.
First, on the issue of same sex marriage:
The Assembly voted to allow ministers to perform same sex marriages in those states where same sex marriage is legal. The language of the overture explicitly stated that no minister will be required to perform a same sex marriage. This action goes into effect immediately. Also, the Assembly voted to propose a change in language in our Book of Order. Currently the book describes marriage as between "a man and a woman." The proposed language will describe marriage as between "two persons, traditionally a man and a woman."
That proposed language change to the Book of Order will now be sent to the 172 Presbyteries for their vote. If a majority of the Presbyteries approve the language, it will become part of our Book of Order.
Second, on the issue of divestment:
Through its Foundation, the Presbyterian Church has substantial assets invested in a variety of different ways. Historically, we have had a policy to prohibit investment in different industries, including tobacco, alcohol, and weapons industries. For the past ten years, there has also been a proposal for us not to invest in three companies which are accused of profiting from "their involvement in the occupation and violation of human rights" in the region of Palestine.
This year, by a vote of 310-303, the Assembly voted to divest itself of stock in those three companies (Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola Solutions).
At the same time, the Assembly passed strong language about our continued support for Israel, for a "two state" solution for peace in the Middle East, and of our intention to not be considered part of the so called "Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions" movement. The Assembly re-affirmed its commitment to invest in Israel as a nation.
That's what happened at General Assembly.
Here is the way we will be responding and dealing with these issues at RPC.
First, I would remind you that we have a very clear mission at RPC ... "To grow in our love for God which enables us to love ourselves in a healthy way which equips us to love others." Since 1996 that has been the official mission of our congregation, and year after year our Session has affirmed our desire to not let General Assembly issues detract us from that mission.
The fact is, the members of RPC are not of one mind on either of these issues. There are those in our congregation who are applauding one or both of the decisions; and there are those who are distressed by one or both of the decisions.
My commitment is that we are not going to let either of these issues sidetrack us from the important work to which God has called us. This summer we had record numbers of children sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ during Vacation Bible School. We've had mission teams sharing the love of Jesus in Guatemala and Kenya. We're preparing to plant a new church in the growing community of Suwanee. Our Neighborhood Outreach is helping us build relationships in ways we could have never imagined. Record numbers of people are attending Bible studies and Sunday School classes. Week after week hundreds are gathering for worship.
God's work is being done, and we are not going to let these issues take us away from that important ministry!
Here are some specific responses we are taking:
I have already reached out to our good friend, Rabbi Fred Greene of Temple Beth Tikvah, to re-affirm our continued support for the Jewish community. Rabbi Greene and I are friends, and we will continue to maintain our friendship even as we continue to talk about and pray for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
I have continued to remind people, particularly when they talk about issues related to same sex marriage, to remember that not everyone to whom they speak shares their point of view. Let me reiterate... the people of RPC are not of one mind on this issue. As we speak to each other, I challenge us to speak with love, avoiding inflammatory and hurtful rhetoric. Remember... when you talk about same sex marriage you are talking about real people... members and children and grandchildren in our congregation. Speak with love!
Sometime in the next year, our Presbytery will be holding a meeting to vote on this proposed change in the Book of Order. Before that meeting we will have a forum (or possibly multiple forums) at which we will study Scripture and listen to each other in dealing with both of these important issues.
In the seventeenth century, during the Thirty Years War, a terribly bloody war which was fueled in large part by a religious controversy, a somewhat obscure German theologian named Rupertus Meldenius coined a phrase which is important for us to remember. Meldenius said this:
In essentials, unity;
In non-essentials, liberty;
In all things, charity.
The words of Meldenius ring down to our world and to our church. We will have plenty of opportunities to discuss, to pray, to listen, and to learn as we seek God's guidance on these important issues, but we will always do so with charity.
In the meantime, we will continue on with the important ministry to which God has called us. Lives are being changed through the work of RPC, and for that I give thanks.
I'm blessed to serve with you, and I look forward to our continued service to Christ and his church. I'll see you this Sunday as I continue our sermon series on "God's People on the Move." It's a timely sermon. I'm going to be talking about the importance of our taking the time to do the hard work of Scripture study.
I'll see you Sunday.
Marriage and Civil Unions
|Authoritative Interpretation (AI)
What is the actual language of the authoritative interpretation?
"Worship is a central element of the pastoral care of the people of God (W-6.3001, W-6.3010) in which a teaching elder's discernment of the leading of the Holy Spirit is indispensable. The necessity of ensuring the exercise of freedom of conscience in the interpretation of Scripture (G-2.0105) in the planning and leadership of worship has deep roots in our Reformed tradition and theology. Because a service of marriage is one form of such worship, when a couple requests the involvement of the church in solemnizing their marriage as permitted by the laws of the civil jurisdiction in which the marriage is to take place, teaching elders* have the pastoral responsibility to assess the capabilities, intentions, and readiness of the couple to be married (W-4.9002), and the freedom of conscience in the interpretation of Scripture (G-2.0105) to participate in any such marriage they believe the Holy Spirit calls them to perform.
"Exercising such discretion and freedom of conscience under the prayerful guidance of Scripture, teaching elders may conduct a marriage service for any such couple in the place where the community gathers for worship, so long as it is approved by the session; or in such other place as may be suitable for a service of Christian worship. In no case shall any teaching elder's conscience be bound to conduct any marriage service for any couple except by his or her understanding of the Word, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The authoritative interpretation of this section by the 203rd General Assembly (1991) (Minutes, 1991, Part I, p. 395, paragraphs 21.124-.128), and the subsequent authoritative interpretations of the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission relying upon it, are withdrawn and replaced with this authoritative interpretation."
*"As in other places in the Directory for Worship, the use of 'teaching elders' in this paragraph should be understood to include ruling elders commissioned to pastoral service."
| Proposed Amendment to the Constitution|
What is the actual language of the proposed amendment?
Amend W-4.9000 by striking the current text and replacing it with the following:
"Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people (traditionally a man and a woman) to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. The sacrificial love that unites the couple sustains them as faithful and responsible members of the church and the wider community.
"In civil law, marriage is a contract that recognizes the rights and obligations of the married couple in society. In the Reformed tradition, marriage is also a covenant in which God has an active part, and which the community of faith publicly witnesses and acknowledges.
"If they meet the requirements of the civil jurisdiction in which they intend to marry, a couple may request that a service of Christian marriage be conducted by a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), who is authorized, though not required, to act as an agent of the civil jurisdiction in recording the marriage contract. A couple requesting a service of Christian marriage shall receive instruction from the teaching elder, who may agree to the couple's request only if, in the judgment of the teaching elder, the couple demonstrate sufficient understanding of the nature of the marriage covenant and commitment to living their lives together according to its values. In making this decision, the teaching elder may seek the counsel of the session, which has authority to permit or deny the use of church property for a marriage service.
"The marriage service shall be conducted in a manner appropriate to this covenant and to the forms of Reformed worship, under the direction of the teaching elder and the supervision of the session (W- 1.4004-.4006). In a service of marriage, the couple marry each other by exchanging mutual promises. The teaching elder witnesses the couple's promises and pronounces God's blessing upon their union. The community of faith pledges to support the couple in upholding their promises; prayers may be offered for the couple, for the communities that support them, and for all who seek to live in faithfulness.
"A service of worship recognizing a civil marriage and confirming it in the community of faith may be appropriate when requested by the couple. The service will be similar to the marriage service except that the statements made shall reflect the fact that the couple is already married to one another according to the laws of the civil jurisdiction.
"Nothing herein shall compel a teaching elder to perform nor compel a session to authorize the use of church property for a marriage service that the teaching elder or the session believes is contrary to the teaching elder's or the session's discernment of the Holy Spirit and their understanding of the Word of God."
FAQs on Same-Gender Marriage
(Detroit-June 19, 2014)-The 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) today approved a measure giving pastors the discretion to perform same-gender marriages in states where it is legal. It offers the same discretion for churches with regard to the use of church property. The measure takes effect upon the conclusion of the General Assembly on Saturday, June 21, 2014. A proposed amendment to change the Constitution to include same-gender marriages in the church's Constitution passed the General Assembly but must be ratified by a majority of the church's 172 regional presbyteries. Presbyteries have one year to vote on the proposed amendment. If a majority ratifies the amendment, it would take effect June 21, 2015.
- Are congregations and/or pastors required to participate in/host such weddings? "In no case shall any teaching elder's conscience be bound to conduct any marriage service for any couple except by his or her understanding of the Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit." No pastor is compelled to perform a service of marriage nor a session compelled to use church property for a service of marriage.
- Can a pastor in a state where it is not permitted perform a wedding in a state where it is? The teaching elder has freedom of conscience. Beyond that, it would depend on whether the teaching elder is authorized under civil law to perform a wedding in the state where the wedding is to take place.
- Will sessions have the authority to permit (or not) same-gender marriage services in the church? Yes. Nothing has changed about the authority of sessions in the way church property is used.
- If a pastor is willing to preside at the marriage of a same-gender couple, can the session prohibit the pastor from doing so? No. The session cannot compel the pastor nor can the pastor compel the session. The pastor has the freedom of his or her own conscience and the session has the responsibility for providing for worship and making decisions about the use of church property.
- Can the session make a categorical prohibition of same-gender weddings in its building? Yes. Nothing has changed about the authority of the session with regard to the use of the church building.
- What process did the General Assembly use to make this happen? The General Assembly made an authoritative interpretation of the Constitution and proposed an amendment to the Constitution.
- What is an authoritative interpretation (AI)? An AI is an interpretation of the Constitution by the General Assembly or the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission. It is binding on all councils.
- What is permitted according to the AI at the adjournment of the assembly? Pastors may conduct a marriage service for same-gender couples and may do so where the community gathers for worship with the permission of the session. "In no case shall any teaching elder's conscience be bound to conduct any marriage service for any couple except by his or her understanding of the Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit."
- What is an amendment to the Constitution? An amendment to the Constitution is determined by the General Assembly, but must be confirmed by a majority of the presbyteries. All councils are under the authority of the Constitution.
- What if the presbyteries refuse to vote on the amendment? A majority of the presbyteries must vote for the amendment in order for it to become part of the Constitution. A non-vote has the effect of a "no" vote.
- If the presbyteries do not approve changes to the Constitution, what is the effect on the authoritative interpretation ("AI")? The AI remains in place until it is superseded by another.
- What is the timeline? The same-gender marriage measure (the AI) takes effect upon the conclusion of the General Assembly on Saturday, June 21, 2014. The proposed amendment must be ratified by a majority of the church's 172 presbyteries, which have one year to vote. If ratified, the amendment would take effect on June 21, 2015.
- What shall we tell the media? Please see the official press release, or refer calls to PC(USA) offices.
The information included in this section is an effort to help our congregations understand how the Divestment decision was reached at GA this year. This is background information and the exact wording of the decision that was reached. We continue to move forward with a sensitivity to our Presbyterian Jewish relationships and with a commitment to reconciliation and understanding.
Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI)
GA Text Approving Divestment
The PC(USA) has a long standing commitment to peace in Israel and Palestine. We recognize the complexity of the issues, the decades-long struggle, the pain suffered and inflicted by policies and practices of both the Israeli government and Palestinian entities. We further acknowledge and confess our own complicity in both the historic and current suffering of Israeli and Palestinian. Yearning for justice and reconciliation, the 221st General Assembly (2014) recommends the following:
- Reaffirm Israel's right to exist as a sovereign nation within secure and internationally recognized borders in accordance with the United Nations resolutions.
- Declare its commitment to a negotiated two-state solution (two states for two peoples) in which a secure and universally recognized State of Israel lives alongside a free, viable, and secure state for the Palestinian people.
- Instruct the Presbyterian Foundation and the Board of Pensions of the PC(U.S.A.), to divest from Caterpillar, Inc., Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions, in accord with our church's decades-long socially responsible investment (SRI) history, and not to reinvest in these companies until the Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee of the PC(USA) is fully satisfied that product sales and services by these companies are no longer in conflict with our church investment policy. This action on divestment is not to be construed or represented by any organization of the PC(USA) as divestment from the State of Israel, or an alignment with or endorsement of the global BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) movement.
- Reaffirm PC(USA)'s commitment to interfaith dialog and partnerships with the American Jewish, Muslim friends and Palestinian Christians and call for all presbyteries and congregations within the PC(USA) to include interfaith dialogue and relationship-building as part of their own engagement in working for a just peace.
- Call for all foreign aid given by the U.S. government-including aid to Israel and the Palestinian Authority-to be comprehensively and transparently accounted to the American people and held to the same standards of compliance with all applicable laws.
- Call for church advocacy for foreign-aid accountability to be directed toward its universal adherence rather than targeted for selective application to some recipients and not others.
- Encourage Presbyterians to travel to the Holy Land, and give broad support to the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities throughout the Middle East.
- Affirm the importance of economic measures and cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians that support and advance a negotiated two-state solution.
- Urge all church institutions to give careful consideration to possible investments in Israel-Palestine that advance peace and improve the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.
Positive Investment Overview
|Click to watch the video.|
FAQ on Divestment
Talking Points-Short Version
The 221st General Assembly (2014) voted by a narrow margin to divest from three U.S. companies- Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola Solutions-whose products are used to further the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The assembly's vote was 310-303.
- These non-peaceful activities are inconsistent with the church's socially responsible investment policy.
- Caterpillar provides bulldozers used in the destruction of Palestinian homes and for clearing land of fruit and olive tree groves.
- Hewlett Packard provides electronic systems at checkpoints, logistics and communications systems to support the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, as well as business relationships with illegal settlements in the West Bank.
- Motorola Solutions provides military communications and surveillance systems in illegal Israeli settlements.
- The church's committee on socially responsible investing has been engaged with these companies for more than a decade urging change in these corporate activities with no results.
- This action is not divestment from Israel; the church has other significant investments in Israel.
- The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is explicit in:
- Affirming the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign nation within secure and internationally recognized borders.
- Advocating for the right of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace, free from threats or acts of force.
- DeclaringthatthisactiondoesnotindicatealignmentwiththeoverallglobalBoycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
- Regarding Zionism Unsettled, the assembly declared that the publication does not represent the views of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
- In the past year, the church has made positive investments in economic development in Palestine.
- The measure also reaffirms the PC(USA)'s commitment to interfaith dialogue and partnerships with the American Jewish and Muslim friends, and with Palestinian Christians.
to view the full FAQs on the Middle East and Divestment.
Presbyterian Related Groups
A Letter from the Fellowship of Presbyterians
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Meeting in Detroit, our 221st General Assembly has taken two significant actions on the teaching and practice of marriage according to the PC(USA)'s Book of Order. First, the GA approved an Authoritative Interpretation (AI) that now permits PC(USA) pastors to conduct same-sex weddings, and allows sessions to approve the use of church property for such ceremonies. Secondly, the GA approved a proposed amendment to the Book of Order that would replace current language with a description of marriage as a relationship between "two people, traditionally a man and a woman."
While the AI goes into effect immediately, the proposed amendment requires ratification by a majority of the presbyteries before any change could be made, a process that takes about one year. Both measures are designed to allow pastors and congregations to participate in same-sex weddings in states where gay marriage is legal.
We grieve these actions by the General Assembly. We believe we will look back on this day and see the error of these decisions. But an Assembly of our denomination has spoken, and now we must move ahead without compromising compassion or conviction.
It is extremely important to understand that while the AI and the constitutional amendment broaden the denomination's interpretation of marriage, they do not require any pastor to officiate or any session to authorize the use of church property for a marriage service with which they disagree. It remains up to each pastor and each session to determine what is and is not appropriate for their congregation.
Proponents of these two actions have made great effort to invite and welcome those who hold unwaveringly to a traditional interpretation of marriage to remain engaged in the mission and ministry of the PC(USA) with full integrity. Some will resolve to do this-others may not. Those of us who do remain in the PC(USA) will, no doubt, encounter other decisions and actions with which we will disagree. We are not here to fight and divide, but to continue to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and to testify to the transforming power of his love that is available to everyone. We urge you in the strongest possible way to refrain from actions, attitudes, and language that would mar the image of Christ in your response to the Assembly's actions.
Let us commit to one another, and to Almighty God, that we will seek to embody the grace and love of our Savior across our theological differences, and in personal and congregational deliberations about our future in the PC(USA).
A Letter from the Outreach Foundation
Dear friends in Christ,
During this week when some of you are discouraged about the PC(USA), I want to remind you that God continues to use Presbyterians to turn the world upside down.
In the last 55 years the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, our Presbyterian partner which also includes Lutheran synods, has grown from 50,000 believers to 6.4 million believers. They continue to reach out to share the Gospel with their neighbors, and now the EECMY is sending missionaries to other countries.
In 1852, American missionary Rev. Royal Wilder began sharing the Gospel at Kolhapur, India, a city in the southern part of Maharashtra State in western India. The first baptism took place in 1857. Wilder was a Presbyterian, and his work became part of the American Presbyterian Mission in 1870. Now independent, in the past 15 years the Kolhapur Christian Council has grown from 43 churches to 66 churches and 140 house fellowships. Today, they believe that God has called them to plant a church in each of the 1300 villages of the Kolhapur District by the year 2020!
This Sunday, in the face of extraordinary pressure and new violence, the Presbyterian congregations in Basrah, Baghdad and Kirkuk, Iraq will gather for worship. They are bearing faithful, winsome witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Through their relationships with friends, radio ministries, and children's ministries that bless the children of Muslim neighbors, these Presbyterians are sharing and showing the love of Jesus.
There are more Presbyterians in Ghana today than in Scotland, more in Kenya than in the United States, more in the East Indian state of Mizoram than in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas and California combined. And these brothers and sisters are disclosing God's glory and grace in ways that are changing lives and transforming communities.
God is at work in amazing ways through Presbyterians near and far who know that the only thing to do with good news is to share it and that the Gospel is the best news of all.
Know that you and your congregations are in my prayers.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (2 Thes 2.16-17)
Executive Director of the Outreach Foundation
General Assembly News Regarding the Overtures sent by our Presbytery
The Presbytery of Greater Atlanta sent 5 overtures to this General Assembly. Here is what happened with those overtures:
- We sent an overture to amend G-2.0509 asking that once a pastor renounces in the midst of a judicial proceeding, that the pastor not be allowed to volunteer or work in a PCUSA church or related organization. This overture was considered in Committee #6: Church Polity and given the number 06-03. This overture was very similar to the one submitted by Western Reserve Presbytery and was rolled into that overture which was numbered 05. The overture was approved by a vote of 309 to 207. It will now come back to the presbyteries for action. If over 50% of presbyteries approve, it will become part of the Book of Order. (06-05)
- We sent an overture to amend G-2.0803 asking that criminal background checks be required of all pastors when taking a call. This overture was considered in Committee #6: Church Polity and given the number 06-04. The overture was disapproved with comment. The comment from the committee and approved was that Presbytery manuals contain requirements that all pastors receive background checks. (06-04)
- We sent an overture "Regarding a National Moratorium on the Imposition of the Death Penalty. This overture was assigned to Committee #9, Social Justice and given the number 4. This overture was approved in the consent agenda of the Assembly. (09-04)
- We sent an overture to "Call for a Boycott of all Hewlett-Packard Products". This was assigned to Committee #4, Middle East Issues and given the number 5. (04-05) The overture was disapproved with a vote of 503-82.
- We sent an overture on "Food Sovereignty for All". This was assigned to Committee #9, Social Justice issues and given the number 9. The overture was approved as amended in the consent agenda of the Assembly. (09-09)
You can find the details of these and all the actions of the Assembly at www.pc-biz.org.
Want to Know More? Order Bulletin Inserts
The Presbyterian Outlook has prepared a bulletin insert that will summarize the major and most easily misunderstood actions. The insert is available in English, Korean, and Spanish. If you're interested in this valuable resource click here to order.
Order Bulletin Inserts