The beginning of a dialogue

July 7, 2014

[Korean][Spanish] The 221st General Assembly (2014) of our church adjourned on June 21 after eight days of deliberations, worship, and voting. Many decisions were made, which usually means answers to questions were settled. However, in our Reforming church, we find that the decisions only helped to highlight some of the issues that face our denomination today. Certainly we received directions on what we should do in regard to many matters, but many questions were raised instead of solved.

I have my own questions, and a number of you have expressed your own. As I enter my two years of service as Moderator, I wish to share with you some of the questions I have been asked in the past weeks, and which I hope to explore more fully during my tenure. These are not offered with a bias nor an agenda, but instead as the beginning of a dialogue that I hope we will share in the coming months.

  1. Do we intentionally and openly accept that we are all in this church together because we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and that nothing else that we do is as important as that fact?
  2. Do we recognize the reality that each of us is limited by our own humanity and sinfulness as we interpret the Scriptures, and may not agree upon various interpretations?
  3. Is divestment of any sort the appropriate answer for our denomination to take when it tends to polarize and politicize our decisions, and has become the dominant issue facing each recent assembly?
  4. How does our denomination reach out to both Palestinians and Jews in a way that communicates our sincere heartbreak for both communities concerning their victimization of terror and harassment, and their right to a homeland?
  5. Do our decisions about marriage sincerely reflect a decision to be open to people adopting and believing different positions concerning same-gender unions? Is there really room in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for those who believe this is a God-given right to worship and serve in congregations where people believe it is sinful behavior?
  6. Is “Louisville” in touch with the needs of the church? In other words, are we as a denomination directing our central offices to serve our church in the ways that are most needed, as opposed to having the staff direct the priorities they believe to be important?
  7. Is the General Assembly meeting organized in the best way to reflect the priorities of the church? Is there so much focus on voting that we miss other areas where we should be spending our time? Should we hear the stories of our successes in our congregations and also share the burdens of day-to-day ministry in churches, and explore together ways that these may be expanded or duplicated?
  8. Do we maximize the presence and extraordinary gifts of the young adult advisory delegates, as well as other young adults throughout the church?
  9. Are the 1001 New Worshipping Communities signs of a renewal in the PC(USA) or are these fads and non-centered gatherings of people in places that will not sustain longevity?
  10. Are we giving adequate attention to small, older churches that are still vital, but having financial problems as opposed to the new entities?

I invite you to communicate with me as we seek to make our denomination one of healthy, caring Christians rather than a group of people who have lost their ability to identify the Godliness in each of God’s children, who were created in God’s image.

Read this article in Korean.

Lea esta artículo en Espańol.

  1. Let me ask question no.5 in another form...Is there room in the church for people to worship who feel that sexual relations between those of the same gender is sinful?

    by Kevin Williams

    July 11, 2014

  2. Very interesting examination and honest questions.

    by Kevin Williams

    July 8, 2014

  3. In the Grand Canyon Presbytery of Arizona, only a handful of its 70 Churches are growing, the others are in various modes of dying! Those that are growing are reaching out to the difficult issues that face "His" Church today - to understand them and, as individuals, decide what we find is the correct path for us. The Church has always been involved in issues because there is a spiritual content as well as a political content to each and every one of them.

    by Richard Humphries

    July 8, 2014

  4. I have often wondered why we are so committed to Israel. It seems to be a tradition, rather than a stance of purpose, a choosing of the lesser of two evils as in choosing the group that would 'less' likely to kidnap and murder the innocents. But alas, the truth is clear today. We are all human and we all do these things. To blindly defend a side in this is to take the position of Peter when Paul was forced to rebuke him for his fraternizing with the Jews. I grew up after the second world war and was exposed to the BBC and CNN most of my life so I have heard news from Israel that many U.S. citizens were not privy to. My Chu...this Church, seems to be more at ease following the lead of the political agendas that pervade the airwaves today. Every which way the wind blows there is an opinion from the Church. Remembering Jesus only addressed the issue of taxes and adultery when the Jews pressed him, we should follow that example instead of laying out new rules to prove or deny conformance. If we are silent, and allow God to speak through us, we will likely hear his voice which will never contradict his written word. These past few utterances from the PCUSA have been in conflict with the Spirit in so many of us that those in charge ought to take note, serious notice in fact, of the divisive nature these utterances have had on Christians and non-Christians alike. If we march to the beat of the world's drum we should expect them to blow out what flame we were called to carry, and no longer be worthy to have the torch. Think carefully why we are Christians. Forget denomination or tradition, why are we Christ-ians?? We are Christians because we believe Christ died in our place. Israel did not. Palestine did not. The homosexual community did not. We are not called to prove we are on any of their sides, We are called to be on Christ's side and offer living sacrifices showing them all the way to live. Picking sides certainly will NEVER help our mission. People need to pick Christ's side instead, and then and only then can we be brothers.

    by Kelston

    July 7, 2014

  5. As past moderator I want to thank God for our 221 th GA vote on divestment, after 10 years of working with these 3 companies it was the right thing to do for the sake of the Gespel and our support of our Palestiniean Christians under Israeli military occupation. Please remember that we are following our PCUSA policy to divest from our American companies from our pension money in these companies ( so PCUSA members we are not divesting from Israel as nation and people need to know that we are not using our core mission budget but from our pension money) please remember that Our PCUSA is not anti Semitic , not ani Israel and not anti Jewish, we are anti 47 year of the Israeli military occupation that is killing the soul of Israel by holding 5 million Palestinians captives under the 47 Israeli military occupation. I hope our PCUSA members will begins to pray for Israel and the Jewish people to be free from an occupying people and be free in Israel without oppressing the Palestinians for ever, and I hope will continue to pray for the 15 million Arab Christians of the Middle East during these hard times and pray for thev750000 Presbyterians in the Middle East as a result of out mission work since 1823 and the majority of these Presbyterians are in Egypt. Our PCUSA vote was the best tough love for Israel , our sisters and brothers in the Jewish community have been our best leaders in our nation civil and human right struggle and help our nation to do the right think during the civil rights days and those same leaders must stand tall and help our nation to help Israel the 47 year military occupation that is killing the future of Israel. Rev. Fahed Abuakel, teaching elder in the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, Georgia.

    by Rev. Fahed Abuakel

    July 7, 2014

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