Archive for the ‘EPC’ Category

PCUSA in full panic mode

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

I have written quite a bit about the Presbyterian Church (USA), its abandonment of orthodox Christianity, its greed and delusions of power, and our church’s eventual escape from it (see here, starting with "The 556-member church …") Since that glorious day in November, 2008, when we left the PCUSA (without their permission), I have had little reason to write about this hollow shell of a Christian denomination.

But now, in their boundless greed and lust for power, the PCUSA asserts veto power over decisions of the faithful, vibrant Christian denomination to which we now belong, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.  In a letter to the highest elected officer of the EPC, the Stated Clerk, the PCUSA boss man (same title – Stated Clerk) complains about the very process that brought us out of the PCUSA and into the EPC fold.

First, a little political history.  The national government created by the U.S. Constitution was loosely modeled on the Presbyterian form of government.  The EPC and PCUSA each have a document (Book of Order) that describes its system of government.  Members of each local church elect Elders to represent and govern them.  These Elders in turn select representatives (Commissioners) to govern the presbytery to which the church belongs.  Presbyteries select representatives to the General Assembly (GA Commissioners) to govern the national denomination.  The GA elects the Stated Clerk.

The PCUSA and the national government of the United States also have this in common – both have lost sight of their founding documents and both have forgotten that the source of their ruling power is invested in the members/voters and not in themselves.

One of the PCUSA’s spurious claims is that a local church cannot leave without permission from its presbytery, and the presbytery’s discretion in such matters is nearly absolute.  We tried for two years to get the Presbytery of Wabash Valley to let us leave, but our good-faith efforts were met with deceit, political maneuvering, and stalling.  Even after our church voted by a large margin to leave the PCUSA and join the EPC, the presbytery maintained the fiction that our church was still part of their organization and our members were too.  They huffed and puffed about dismissing us but there was nothing they could do.

Since we left, the PCUSA has been losing members and whole congregations at an unprecedented rate.  Since both individual members and congregations are regarded by the PCUSA as assets to be used for its benefit, it doesn’t like to see them leave – especially congregations, which take with them two classes of assets, members (cash) and buildings (real property).

So the PCUSA is huffing and puffing again, demanding that the EPC not accept churches like ours that unilaterally choose to disaffiliate.  The EPC’s position is that such churches are independent – we certainly were – and can freely choose a denomination to affiliate with.  But no, an increasingly desperate  PCUSA demands that the EPC leave disaffiliated churches in their chains, pretending that the PCUSA still has jurisdiction.  And it accompanies its demands with veiled threats of ecclesiastical and civil court action.

Churches are leaving and courts are finding that the PCUSA can’t just steal a church’s property by claiming to have a trust the owners never granted.  The PCUSA’s Berlin Wall (built to keep its people in, not to keep others out) is coming down and they don’t like it.

Thanks to the Layman Online for the story.

Posted in Christianity, EPC, PCUSA | No Comments »

PCUSA: Goodbye to all that

Monday, November 17th, 2008

My church and I have joined the Midwest Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). After a long, divisive, frustrating struggle with a stiff-necked and ungracious Administrative Commission (AC), we (the session) finally said “enough!”. We scheduled an information meeting and vote without the AC’s permission.

More than 300 of 550 active members showed up last Sunday to vote on disaffiliation from the PCUSA. The vote was 270 to leave and 36 to stay. In addition to immediate disaffiliation, members voted to seek membership in the EPC and to retain our pastors, session, and Board of Deacons. Additional details are available at the Layman Online.

We still have the presbytery’s inevitable claim of an alleged trust in our property to deal with. We continue to hope that our dissenting members will choose to stay in their church family rather than cast themselves adrift in the PCUSA.

In a strange way, I am grateful to that unkind and unreliable AC. If they had shown some consideration for our church, we might still be trapped in their interminable process – and the PCUSA. Is this a case of God intending their evil for our good? I can’t say for sure, but as a new member of the EPC, I can say it’s a real possibility.

Posted in EPC, PCUSA, Personal | 1 Comment »

Women in the EPC: "Second-class citizens"?

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

This, of course, is the interpretation PC(USA) spin doctors put on the EPC’s local option regarding the ordination of women. With our church growing impatient with the PC(USA) and its deep dive into cultural accomodation, we are looking very hard at the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). Ours is a church where more than a third of the elders are women and our Associate Pastor is a woman. As a member of the session, I’ve given this matter a lot of thought and study.

Peace, unity, and purity (the real deal)

Rev. Dr. Jeff Jeremiah, Stated Clerk of the EPC, spoke to our congregation last year. (The discernment process has been interminable.) He mentioned that the PC(USA) and EPC cultures were different and that they often used the same words with different meanings. He noted that one difference in culture evident to outside observers is the degree of trust and real fellowship that seem to prevail within the EPC compared with the PC(USA).

One PC(USA) pastor who attended the EPC’s General Assembly in June last year described his experience this way:

The time at the GA was encouraging, energizing, hopeful and so Christ centered that there was no mistaking why the church had gathered to do business – to best be Christ’s church for God’s glory! I was really taken with … the spirit of grace and humility exhibited by the EPC folks.

This description stands in sharp contrast to the usual wrangling and in-fighting exhibited at a PC(USA) General Assembly. There were no demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, no staged walk-outs, no horse-trading and back-room deals, and no politically-charged circus atmosphere. Instead, there was peace and unity.

Dr. Jeremiah attributed this culture to the EPC’s focus on Christ and to the absence of doctrinal warfare. The EPC knows what it believes and requires officers to share its core beliefs. They have not elevated human conscience above the essential tenets of Reformed Christian orthodoxy as the PC(USA) has. Neither has the EPC elevated the ordination of women to similar status.

Prohibiting the ordination of women

Prior to 1930, the mainline Presbyterian denominations did not ordain women. The ordination of women to the office of elder was introduced into the original PCUSA in that year. The ordination of women as ministers of Word and Sacrament came to the old PCUSA in 1956 and to the UPCUSA and via the PCUSA’s merger with the UPNA in 1958. The PCUS followed in 1964. Now, section G-6.0105 of the PC(USA) Book of Order simply states that “Both men and women shall be eligible to hold church offices”.

When it comes to ordaining women, the greatest difference between the PC(USA) and the EPC is this: The PC(USA) has a history of prohibiting the ordination of women to any office. The EPC has no such history and has never had an institutional prohibition against the ordination of women. For that simple reason, the EPC has never had to alter its Book of Order to correct its former position. Having never barred the ordination of women, the EPC has no need to explicity authorize or require it.

But, in typical fashion, the PC(USA) treated the ordination of women as both an ecclesiastical issue and a political one. Celebrating the ordination of women was transformed into demanding the ordination of women. Not satisfied with the ecclesiastal decision to allow and even encourage the ordination or women, the PC(USA) embraced a political mechanism – affirmative action – to require it. While there are no formal quotas and no set-asides, the direction and intent are clear. No dissent is allowed, no excuses are accepted.

There’s just one teeny little problem with this politicized approach. It either (1) puts God in a box or (2) denies his sovereignty. Either the PC(USA) believes that (1) there can be no church where God chooses to call only men to leadership or (2) people, not God, do the calling. My opinion is that the latter is more akin to the way our denomination operates.

Allowing the ordination of women

So which denomination has it right? Is it the PC(USA) with its demands for gender equality and proportional representation? Or is it the EPC with a policy that simply says, “let God decide whom to call”?

Is life perfect for women called to leadership in the EPC? No. The Midwest Presbytery of the EPC has never ordained a woman to the office of teaching elder. But there is reason to hope that an ordained woman from the PC(USA) seeking ordination in the Midwest Presbytery would find

Such cannot be said of the PCUSA with its political culture and its delusions of being the “true church”.

Posted in EPC, PCUSA | No Comments »