(Conversations with Bob! Almost as exciting as C-Span!)
Bob, I am all about community. That is why I lead one! I think that people need a community where they are known and loved. Folks need a place to grow, to learn, to contribute, and to experience blessedness. Christian communities can be that when they aren't overburdened with rules.
I like point 4 of progressive communities:
Invite all people to participate in our community and worship life without insisting that they become like us in order to be acceptable (including but not limited to):
- believers and agnostics,
- conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
- women and men,
- those of all sexual orientations and gender identities,
- those of all races and cultures,
- those of all classes and abilities,
- those who hope for a better world and those who have lost hope
Form ourselves into communities dedicated to equipping one another for the work we feel called to do: striving for peace and justice among all people, protecting and restoring the integrity of all God's creation, and bringing hope to those Jesus called the least of his sisters and brothers.
It is my experience as a Presbyterian pastor of almost 30 years that we Presbyterians really operate on what I call the L & B method of receiving members. That means if you are living and breathing we will accept you as a member.I am all for taking anyone who is living and breathing and wants to join! To push that a little bit, I think that people will join a community because they feel at home and want to participate in and contribute to its life. People won't join a community (unless there is a pathology somewhere) if they don't affirm its mission or if they don't feel welcomed and valued.
As far as the rules you quoted in the Book of Order, I realize that they are there. In my opinion, the rules are not absolute truth. They are rules that can be changed. I am no apologist for the rules.
I frankly, don't find them to be that helpful. I find them to be barriers, especially as they are used by some in this time in the church to make sure that everyone within the church and without knows that certain people are NOT invited.
I would much rather the PCUSA as a whole adopt the eight points of progressive Christianity rather than the Lord'n'Savior business, which does not resonate with many people. But, I, like you, am one guy with one vote. I don't like the rules we have that treat gays as second class either.
However, being a team player, I follow the Book (of Order, that is). In both instances, I try my best to figure out how I can welcome people and deal with the rules (including explaining lord'n'savior and G-6.0106b etc.) in some way so that we can fully include them.
So if you have an explanation for lord'n'savior that might be helpful for folks, great! I am always looking for creative ways of dealing with that phrase.