Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

FAQs on the New G-6.0106b

Here is a resource page from More Light Presbyterians to help you get conversation going in your presbytery regarding the General Assembly recommendation to pass the new G-6.0106b. Here are some FAQs from MLP:

FAQ on Ordination Amendment 08-B

1. What does the revised text actually say?

By a vote of 54% to 46% the 218th GA sends to the presbyteries the following amendment to the Form of Government:

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.

2. Why is this text better than the paragraph it replaces?

This revision better reflects our Presbyterian traditions. This amendment restores constitutional language to the standards for ordination. It places its emphasis on the vows every officer must take as he/she is ordained and/or installed. It rightly places the responsibility for determining fitness for office on the examining governing body.

This revision is better theologically. The revised text puts the focus exactly where it should be – on Jesus, the Scriptures, and the Confessions – the essential values at the center of our theological tradition. Since all of us, all the time, sin and fall short of God's glory, it should remain with the governing and the electing bodies to make the judgment with grace and faithfulness to Scripture and the Constitution, of any potential officer's character and gifts for office.

This revision therefore represents a higher standard for ordained office, since it broadly includes all aspects of character and qualification for candidates for the offices of Deacon, Elder, and Minister of Word and Sacrament.

3. How might this amendment bring the church together again?

This amendment represents a compromise that restores traditional Reformed understandings of ordination standards that should be acceptable to most Presbyterians. Properly understood, this amendment should enable our church to lay aside our conflicts and to move forward in mission and growth.

4. When will this vote take place?

Each presbytery will vote on the Amendment 08-B according to a schedule determined by the Council of that presbytery. The 218th General Assembly strongly encouraged every presbytery to develop a process of discernment and prayer before any vote is taken. The Stated Clerk of the PCUSA has asked that all votes by taken by mid-May, 2009, so that printing of the Book of Order may proceed in a timely fashion. Contact your Stated Clerk or Council to find out what the schedule is. Try to encourage a reconciling process and a secret ballot on the amendment at a meeting most convenient for elder commissioners.

5. Will churches and presbyteries still be able to elect the officers they want?

Yes. In the Reformed tradition the election of church officers, Deacons, Elders and Ministers of Word and Sacrament, belongs to the body in which they will serve. The examination of those elected must be carried out by the governing body that has responsibility for election. No church officer may be placed in a permanent position without the consent of the people.

6. How can this process be made more reconciling and positive?

The 218th General Assembly strongly encouraged all presbyteries to develop a process for prayer and discernment leading to this vote. To help your presbytery prepare for a constructive, reconciling and positive ratification, see the resources listed above.

Volunteer to help ratify Amendment 08-B in your Presbytery!
Send an e-mail to our new Associate Director, Toby Rogers: toby (at) mlp (dot) org. Kindly include your name, contact info, and which Presbytery you are in. We're looking forward to hearing from you!

Thanks, Toby! Congrats on the new position! BTW, I am a proud member of Holston Presbytery and will be even prouder when we pass the new G-6.0106b!

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