22 February 2008


Have they no shame?

That loud "thump" was the other shoe dropping. Not satisfied with using an extra-constitutional amendment process to change the Book of Order to their own liking, the bureaucrats and their allies strike again.

First, the Presbytery of Mississippi, having failed to adopt an overture asking the 2008 General Assembly to sever correspondence with the EPC, has written to Louisville asking Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick and General Assembly Council Chair Allison Seed to file a complaint against the EPC and the NWAC requesting that the organizaations "cease and desist from recruiting or receiving congregations of the PCUSA before they are officially dismissed, and to meet with representatives of such bodies for the purpose of coming to an amicable agreement with respect to such matters."

The letter goes on to state that "Thanks to much help, we are recovering from Hurricane Katrina. However, other foul winds are blowing, and we seek your help. Our concern deals with the best way to respond to the unwelcome interference and hostile actions of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the harm this is causing in our presbytery."

The presbytery is upset because Grace Chapel church has sought to enforce a previous judgement that it alone owns its property. After obtaining that decision, the congregation voted overwhelmingly to leave the PC(USA) for the EPC. As a result, the presbytery appointed an Administrative Commission to attempt to replace the elected session and prevent the departure.

Because the presbytery refused to honor the property judgement, the church sought the equitable protection of the civil courts. But in the eyes of the presbytery, it would not "be in this position but for the active involvement of the EPC, which encouraged the congregation to leave, and which accepted this congregation while the presbytery was contesting the election. This is hostile. This is morally wrong. It is illegal."

So now, EPC and NWAC are outlaws! Welcome to Sherwood Forest. Have a bite of roasted venison.

There is so much that is wrong about that letter that one is almost stunned. With whom will the complaint be filed?

Think about it: a congregation that was dissatisfied with the PC(USA) and apparently could obtain no relief from its presbytery opted to follow God's call for them to labor elsewhere. That is "morally wrong." They claimed a right to their property, as ajudicated. That is "illegal." In search of a new denominational home, the church asked representatives of EPC to talk with them. In so doing, the EPC became "hostile."

A poor choice of words when compared to the facts.

Second, at yesterday's meeting of the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley (Alabama), the docket called for consideration of a constitutionally-valid request by a church to be dismissed to the EPC with its property. Instead, according to my sources, "an official from Louisville" asked that the request be tabled until after the General Assembly in June. It was suggested that at that time, correspondence with the EPC will be severed and it will then be impermissable for a presbytery to dismiss a church to the EPC.

Over a year ago, the Synod of the Sun declared that the only connection between a congregation and the PC(USA) was the property trust. I commented elsewhere that if the only thing connecting us is dirt, there is no real connection. Now, the presbyteries and their sponsors in Louisville seek to enforce that warped view. If a church is feeling theologically abandoned, the remedy for keeping it in the PC(USA) is for the leadership to work for its members rather than the liberal folks of whom they are so enamored. Refusing to do that, they have decided to use artificial parliamentary means to defeat the reasonable desires of the folks in many pews.

Have they no shame, indeed.

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