07 April 2008


As the PC(USA) prepares to elect its first new Stated Clerk in a dozen years, more and more congregations are seeking to leave the denomination. For at least one-third of the current Stated Clerk's tenure, the New Wineskins Association of Churches has been an increasingly painful thorn in his side. As Rev. Kirkpatrick led the denomination along the path of least resistance and away from Scriptural faithfulness, NWAC became the first renewal group in a quarter of a century to propose and execute an action plan to respond to the serious infection within the PC(USA).

The response from the entrenched bureaucracy was to blame the messenger. When entire congregations opted to leave the PC(USA) for other parts of the vineyard, the bureaucrats refused to admit their culpability. Rather than concede that there were two faithful responses to the departure of the PC(USA) from the straight and narrow, they tried to blame the truly faithful.

As a result, the current Stated Clerk's administration appears to have engineered an overture that will ask the WARC to "investigate" unfounded allegations against the EPC. It is probably coincidental that Rev. Kirkpatrick is also the President of WARC. The presumed result will be a decision that allows the PC(USA) to sever correspondence with the EPC, giving presbyteries a basis to refuse to dismiss churches to the EPC.

In the meantime, the new Stated Clerk has a grand opportunity for witness and leadership. As his first act, he could ask the General Assembly to approve a season of departure. The GA could announce a request that all presbyteries dismiss any congregation, with property, so long as the request was made by a super-majority ( 67%) of the members at a meeting of the congregation called for that purpose. The season would last for one year, with the presumption that any congregation that did not request dismissal intended to ratify the so-called Chapter VIII property trust.

The question is whether the new Stated Clerk will be a leader or a follower?

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