Shuck and Jive

Friday, February 04, 2011

PVJ Responds to "The Boys"

Thanks to Presbyterian Voices for Justice and their well-reasoned response to "the boys." The Big Shot Boys want to re-create the PC(USA) in their image and Presbyterian Voices for Justice reminds us why our connectionalism is vital to our shared life together:
The statement recently issued by “Fellowship PCUSA” clearly contains echoes of past struggles within the PC(USA) over what it is to be church together. For some it will echo of New Wineskins; others will be reminded of the Presbyterian Church in America effort of 35 years ago, others of the Confessing Church. There are also more recent efforts that claim a new “way forward,” or that represent tall-steeple churches that do not feel they need much from the denomination.

We note that the General Assembly just affirmed a new Form of Government and authorized a commission to work on presbytery, synod and other inter-council relationships. This letter suggests that some ministers are making their own moves regardless of how those churchwide efforts go; perhaps, despite all those echoes of past efforts, they have something new to propose.

One thing looks pretty old, though: the lack of any women among the signers. This is deplorable, coming from a large group of pastors who seek to speak for Presbyterian churches.

Presbyterian Voices for Justice stands with all of the Presbyterians who have contributed to our denomination over the years. We embrace all six Great Ends of the Church. We stand by our ordination vows and honor the unity of the church, even as we continue to work for greater justice, inclusiveness and welcome. And we continue to value and support the Presbyterian and Reformed understanding of being a church together, with program structures beyond the congregation to accomplish our shared purposes.

We reject the notion that the movement for LGBT ordination rights is the root of the conflict that plagues our church. History shows us that justice-seeking – on behalf of people of color and women – has not been without struggle, but in the end it has made the Presbyterian Church stronger and more consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We stand with all Presbyterians who believe that faithfulness to God's justice-loving call demands that we extend to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons all of the rights and privileges of membership in the PCUSA.

As we read this call from “Fellowship PCUSA,” we see a challenge (perhaps unintended) to our church’s leadership to be more visionary and inspiring, to present with conviction the distinctive calling of the General Assembly and of the Presbyterian Church (USA) itself. We do not need an echo of elements in the culture blaming Big Government and urging a kind of ecclesiastical privatization. We do not need threats that the PC(USA) must “do it our way or we’ll do it alone.” We do need a church united to face the challenges confronting our middle class and poorer congregations, at a time of growing inequality and the fading of the American empire.

This is a time for church leaders to present a higher vision than simply “let us cultivate our own gardens.” It is also a time when some degree of truthfulness would be helpful. Yet to the best of our knowledge the Covenant Network has had no connection with this proposal, and has not encouraged it. To imply otherwise, as the letter does, seems to show a rather casual attitude toward mere facts.

We do not believe that God is calling our church to further division in the name of some kind of doctrinal or moral “purity.” Rather, we are convinced that God calls us today, as always, to follow Jesus, the Christ, with courage, love, and respect for all people – which means doing justice, loving others with mercy, and walking in humility with God.
And thanks to PVJ for linking back to my comment too!

I, too, was surprised to read in the letter from the boys (point 4) that the Covenant Network was on board with them.

We intend to continue conversations within the PC(USA), and have met with both Louisville's leadership and that of the Covenant Network in the past few months. We believe the denomination no longer provides a viable future and perceive that the Covenant Network also sees a broken system.
Huh? Who from Covenant Network spoke with them? My church is affiliated with Covenant Network. They didn't talk to me. I don't see a broken system. I see representative democracy in which my vote counts just as much as Mr. Big Boy. But then again I am not a big boy, just a small tater that don't matter, like the rest of you little people.


  1. Thanks, John, for posting our little comment on this latest effort from the Right -- sort of a neo-New Wineskins, it seems to me, offering to save the Presbyterian Church -- IF we'll just believe the way they do (pretty precisely defined), and stop acting the way they say we shouldn't (trying to be open and welcoming and all that). Is this the way to follow Jesus?

  2. Well done, Doug! I didn't bold the part I really liked about what mimicking empire's values.

    Here is another great response by Katie Mulligan.