As one of the authors and editors of the report of the New Wineskins Strategy Team, and a ruling elder in one of the first four churches to leave the PC(USA) in 2007, I will view this meeting from afar and with interest.
Some folks who were involved, to one degree or another, with the New Wineskins Association of Churches (nee New Wineskins Initiative) are now involved with the Fellowship. Others appear to be the remnant of the two churches within one structure (the "2 synod model")camp that was so evident some ten years ago at the height of the Confessing Church Movement.
Some will attend who have different lines in the sand than did we who fought our way out of the PC(USA) four years ago. They will probably follow us out, through the holes we opened for them at great cost. And finally, a very few others, mainly the victors in the long-lasting guerrilla war fought by those who demanded that the PC(USA) abandon Scripture in favor of a worldly ordination standard, are admittedly attending with the intent of sowing more seeds of distrust and dissension.
In our Strategy Team Report which was unanimously adopted by the more than 600 delegates to the New Wineskins convocation in February 2007, Rev. Dr. Rick Wolling and I wrote:
In this report, we set out a strategy for achieving a new thing, and for engaging in and effecting a realignment that fosters and nurtures that vision. The goal is to further the Great Ends of the Church, and not to undermine, but to uphold our life together as members of the Body of Christ.From what I have read, the Fellowship is still struggling with those issues.
Some of us will be called to follow The Plan detailed in Part III that leads to new relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ who are in a different place. Those who follow this path will leave their parent’s home and join with others to discover new ways to carry out the Great Commission.
Others may be called to stay where they are and be a prophetic witness to what has been our traditional home. Those who follow this path will continue to strive to reform, renew and repair the old homestead so that it can once again be a vibrant and welcoming lodging for those who are lost and hungry for the Word.
That being said, we implore all to whom this report shall come: there must be a new thing, wherever it may occur. To simply stand fast and relax in the status quo is to agree that no change is necessary. Is such a course a faithful response to the moment in time in which we find ourselves? We emphatically respond, “No!”
We believe there are two faithful options for evangelicals to follow:
To realign with an evangelical, Reformed body that is more faithful to Christ, obedient to Scripture and seeks a missionally focused partnership with us than is the PC(USA); or
To stay in place within the PC(USA), while working for the reformation and renewal of that part of the Body of Christ if so led by the Holy Spirit.
For those of us who left in the first wave, the line in the sand was the Trinity report and the PUP report received and/or adopted by the PC(USA) in its 2006 General Assembly. For the Fellowship, the issues are the adoption of the New Form of Government and the abandonment of Scripturally-based ordination standards approved by the 2010 GA and ratified by the presbyteries in 2010-11.
If the Fellowship focuses on the important issues of God’s sovereignty and the authority of His Word, I can see the possibility of some real renewal in the PC(USA) as many of its most influential and orthodox congregations finally take a stand. But if the focus is simply on creating two different bodies joined only by common pension, medical, and retirement plans and an endowment fund, in which one body submits to a new, hierarchical denomination controlled from Louisville, while the other hopes to ignore that hierarchy, well…the Titanic will sink, no matter how the deck chairs are arranged.
There are many wonderful brothers and sister in Christ who will join this week to determine the future of the PC(USA), and they need and deserve our prayers.