Are Tiers Still an Option?
Many people have been asking about the current status of the “Four Tiers” proposal presented in August at the Minneapolis Gathering — our way of explaining options for congregations to consider, given their particular contexts, while we work together to be the Church of Jesus Christ in a new way. These four “tiers” ranged from no structural realignment to the creation of a totally new Reformed body. They were presented in good faith following conversations with members of the Middle Governing Bodies Administrative Commission and the Office of the Stated Clerk, PC(USA).
Since August, congregations and presbyteries in several regions have explored tiers two and three — the more entrepreneurial approaches to remaining in cooperative ministry with established presbyteries. Many have met with uneven and at times disappointing responses. While we are still very hopeful for continuing progress in some presbyteries, we now appear to have three options:
- Affiliate with other like-minded individuals and congregations by joining The Fellowship of Presbyterians while remaining in your current presbytery or continuing to explore some form of differentiation within the PC(USA).
- Differentiate more completely under the umbrella of The Fellowship by pursuing a union relationship (congregation or presbytery) with both the PC(USA) and the new Reformed body.
- Separate from the PC(USA) by joining the new Reformed body, while maintaining important relationships and creating new ministry partnerships under the umbrella of The Fellowship of Presbyterians.
The Fellowship of Presbyterians remains supportive of any organizational change within the PC(USA) that will allow congregations and/or presbyteries to maintain theological integrity. We are deeply appreciative of the work of the Committees of Correspondence and the Presbyterian Coalition in these ongoing efforts. Our primary calling, however, is to encourage adaptive change — new ways of being the Church that nurture spiritual health and vital mission. In these areas we are pleased to be working with organizations like PFR and the Presbyterian Global Fellowship along with the Outreach Foundation and the Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship for nurturing global partnerships.