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Monday, May 16, 2011

Everything Changed, Nothing Changed

If you are a Presbyterian, at least a Presbyterian who tracks happenings in the denomination, by now you surely know that Amendment 10A received the affirmative votes of 87 Presbyteries required to amend G6.0106b in our beloved Book of Order.  Even though many have commented over the last week, I have been rather silent on the subject until now.  Before I comment any further, let me just include for you the new language that will appear in our Book of Order on July 10, 2011:
To replace the present text of G-6-0106b with this:

G-6.0106b. Those who are called to ordained service in the church, by their assent to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003) pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church, striving to follow where he leads through the witness of the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions. In so doing, they declare their fidelity to the standards of the Church. Each governing body charged with examination for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240 and G-14.0450) establishes the candidate's sincere efforts to adhere to these standards.

Also, to be certain, most of you have read at least one newspaper article, probably seen the video from our current Moderator and/or from our Stated Clerk.  All of this info can be found by Google searching the denomination, 10A, going to the PC(USA) website, etc.  Providing links once more to all of these resources is not my purpose.  However, I want to share a bit about what 3 churches in the Bay Area did last evening in response to the events of the week.  One of my pastor friends was talking to me about giving her congregation an opportunity to speak, to ask questions, possibly event to have further knowledge and as much of an objective view as possible, so that if they were at the school, or the market or the gym, and someone mentioned this action, they would have a perspective that was not exclusively that of the media's.  I suggested to her that maybe our churches should partner to sponsor such an event.  We agreed that it should happen rather soon, in order to be timely. 

So, we announced it, found a space, got the Moderator of our Presbytery to agree to attend, collected a variety of resources from a broad spectrum of the denomination, media and the Office of General Assembly.  We had no idea if anyone besides us pastors would even show up.  Much to our surprise, 30 people were in attendance, and we met and we prayed.  There were some people there for whom the vote and the long season of exclusion of LGBTQ members was personal.  There were some people there who were overjoyed.  There were some people there who believed that our church took a step back and a step away from Biblical teaching and ethical standards.  There were some people who were relieved.  There were some people who were quiet.  There were some people who were very vocal.  But the most surprising part for me was that people gathered at all.  People got in their cars and spent their precious, nearly the price of gold, gasoline to drive to the church.  People gave approximately two hours of their time on a Sunday evening to be there.  People made themselves variably vulnerable.  People care. 

It occurred to me in the meeting that everything has changed has a result of this vote.  It is monumental.  It is groundbreaking for our church.  But at the same time, nothing changed.  People still disagree on the subject.  People are still misinformed.  People are still being marginalized.  People are still passionate about their faith and the interpretation of Scripture.  People are still people...Imago Dei people.  Created in God's image.  Mudborn, nmesh people.  People who get it right and people who get it wrong.  And that is never going to change.....