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No more ‘stinky talk’

Peterson tells Fellowship Jesus has a plan, call is to follow it

August 25, 2011

The Rev. David Peterson

MINNEAPOLIS

Though many Presbyterians are grieving the current state of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), they need to remember that Jesus Christ has a plan for the church and their job is to follow it, a leader of the fledgling Fellowship of Presbyterians (FOP) said here today at the group’s first gathering.

More than 1,900 Presbyterians from more than 850 congregations in 49 states are meeting here today and tomorrow (Aug. 25-26) to explore their options in the wake of denominational decisions that have roiled the PC(USA). Their movement began last winter when a group of large-church pastors wrote an open letter declaring the church “deathly ill.”

“What happens when people get together who are disappointed?” asked the Rev. David Peterson, pastor of Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston and a member of FOP’s seven-person steering committee. “We grieve our current state. Some are angry. Some are sad. Some are confused.”

But people of faith have been here before, Peterson said. At the death of Lazarus, some criticized Jesus for not showing up sooner, he said. Even Martha questioned Jesus, saying, “If you had been here sooner my brother wouldn’t have died.”

When Jesus told Lazarus’ friends to open his tomb, they complained that “it would be really stinky in there,” Peterson said. Jesus’ response to this “stinky talk”?

“He told them that if they looked closer, they’d see God’s glory and to stop the stinky talk,” Peterson said. “It’s time for us to trust that Jesus has something prepared for us already, stop the stinky talk, and begin the search for glory.”

Participants were welcomed to the gathering by the Rev. Duncan MacLeod, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Yakima, WA, and the Rev. Marnie Crumpler, associate pastor of Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.

“We are a diverse group but with a common shared love for Jesus Christ and his church,” MacLeod said. “That has to drive what we do here ― to gain clarity about options and about what the Spirit wants us to do next, to take something useful back to our congregations.

“The truth is that God has something in store for each of us, a positive future for all of us,” Macleod said, “this curious group of us that call ourselves Presbyterians.”

Crumpler agreed. “We’re here because we feel compelled to do something about [our church],” she said, “to affirm what we believe and affirm our theological tradition while remaining committed and connected to each other. We seek a fresh way to be the church and follow Jesus.”

  1. For God so Loved the WORLD!

    by Kim

    September 9, 2011

  2. If people believe they are witnessing to truth, they should have faith to believe that the truth will prevail even if they are in the minority. Pulling out to form a separate group shows a weakness of faith. Pray, study, witness (speak and write), but don't separate from others who love and serve Christ.

    by Robert L. (Bob) Montgomery

    August 27, 2011

  3. John... there is no avenue to "simply move on" as long as property is such an issue... we can't force loyalty but we seem determined to try... (if it is so easy to say "if you feel so strongly about it just leave without your facilities", isn't it just as easy to say, "we are determined to be gracious and let you leave... even with your property... and without all the games"...)

    by Bryant Harris

    August 26, 2011

  4. The Presbyterian Church is a dying denomination. Only God can help us.

    by Ron Powell

    August 26, 2011

  5. Please pray for this group. It could be a blessing to dismiss this like minided group to create their own church with their own views. They surround themselves in pain and misery. If it wasnt this, it would be something else. The church will never be exactly what they think it should be, they dont care about other views, they wont compromise. Gods body is not all about what you want it to be. Its about how the holly spirit has guided us. This is where we are today, an inclusive church. Progress has been made. These indivuals are just drowning themselves in their bliss of ingornance and untolerance. If you said the sky was blue--they would argue its green, or they would just start their own church. We are not a cult-like church--and thanks to be to god, we will never be!

    by Aaron

    August 26, 2011

  6. God's plan for Israel included 70 years of bondage in Babylon and its ultimate destruction. God's plans often involve pain and suffering, especially when His people are unfaithful and sin. Stopping the "stinky talk" and getting with the program is what military organizations demand. That's what they demanded when I was serving in Vietnam. It might be that God's plan for the PCUSA is that it be replaced with a new, more Biblically faithful church. And there they are: The PCA and the EPC

    by Earl Tilford

    August 26, 2011

  7. Many years ago as a Presbyterian seminary student, I spent a summer doing youth ministry in a United Methodist congregation. While there I availed myself of the opportunity to read some of John Wesley's writings from the church's library. It was one of the saddest things I've encountered to learn of how much Wesley wanted his followers to be a reforming influence in the Church of England rather than become a new denomination. I wish my friends who ally with the "Fellowship" would consider his advice. Their good intentions added to the mixed motives always present in human undertakings seem to me likely to only eventually result in another division of Christ's earthly body. Wouldn't it be better for those who cannot accept the direction the majority has chosen for the PCUSA simply to move to one of the several more conservative Reformed bodies already in existence? I feel too that this would show much greater moral integrity than their proposals to create some sort of separate bodies with different standards within our denomination, thus diluting our common witness.

    by Jon R. Heckerman

    August 26, 2011

  8. Dear Rev. Van Marter, Could you write more about emerging specifics of proposals being considered and how they are winding their way through the organization of the conference?

    by hugh burroughs

    August 26, 2011

  9. For over 50 years I've watched self-selected groups in the Presbyterian Church tell God how to remake the church according to their image of what the church should be. It is refreshing to see a group say "Jesus has a plan, the call is to follow it." God will never reveal his long-range plan for the church. We need to follow each small step as he reveals it to us.

    by Marvin Miller

    August 25, 2011

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