A First-Hand Account . . .

A First-Hand Account . . .

These are observations shared by Gayle Parker, Pastor of The Spring in Tempe, AZ, based on her experience at a recent Fellowship planning meeting.

As a member of the Advisory Group for the Fellowship, I was one of the people who attended the planning meeting in June. Here is what I observed:

  • Men and women who are committed to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, personally and also corporately.
  • Men and women who are deeply concerned about the trajectory of the PC(USA) and who are determined to find a way for those who want to stay together while seeking a new way to be Presbyterian.
  • Men and women who have a developing vision of what a new kind of Presbyterian Church would look like — bound together more by Christology, theology, and mission than by polity.
  • Men and women who do not have all the questions answered.

And, here is what I came away with regarding expectations for the August Gathering:

  • Assurance there is excellent leadership at the helm of the Fellowship, but it is leadership of a movement that is evolving and will continue to evolve in the changing landscape of the PC(USA). No one has all the answers yet.
  • Hope that, by August, a way forward will be clearly articulated and explained, but understanding that that way forward will not be the “way” for everyone.
  • Clarity that for change to happen at the local level, individual pastors and Sessions will need to lead courageously. In several settings, I have heard hope expressed that in August folks would be given a roadmap of exactly how to proceed and that the map would come with General Assembly’s blessing, if not encouragement. If that hope is resting on the idea that someone else is going to solve the issues you face in your congregation or presbytery, you will be disappointed in the August Gathering. For change to happen, courageous leadership at the local level will be necessary.

Here is what I think you can expect from the August Gathering in Minneapolis:

  • Encouraging vision-casting for a fruitful future.
  • Some clear ways forward, as allowed by nFoG, that will allow for congregations to stay either connected to the PC(USA) in certain ways or disconnected, depending on where God is leading them.
  • Inspiring worship necessary to remind us why and to Whom this is most important.
  • Blessed fellowship necessary to encourage and unite us for the difficult road(s) ahead.
  • Information you will need in order to take next steps appropriate to your context.

7 Responses

  1. Sylvia Cervantes says:

    Gayle: This is excellent and I appreciate this summary. As an elder, with no formal theological education, all this information can get overwhelming and trying to sort through the language and comments can be very hard. This information is extremely helpful as we (Session) continue to study, learn and through prayer discern what may be the best option(s) for our specific congregation. I plan to copy this and share with the other Session members. Thank you, look forward to other updates as things continue to progress.

  2. Matt Ferguson says:


    Thanks for your report. Some reports out of The Fellowship sound as if some are working on amendments to propose to the nFOG that will soon be our FOG that would allow for either non-geographic presbyteries to be formed or for orthodox evangelical churches in progressive-majority presbytery to join another presbytery that is next to their current presbytery.

    God’s blessings to you,

    • Matt Ferguson says:

      I should have had another line at the end asking, “Can you tell us if such work on proposed amendments to allow this is taking place?”

  3. Linda Lee says:

    Thank you for this list of items that help me pray for this event.
    Although I will not be able to attend, I will commit to praying intently for
    and during this gathering. Also, your encouragement tells me that we all need
    to be supporting our pastor and session during this challenging time.

    I urgently request that all who follow what is happening will set aside a specific time each day to pray in concert together for revival, wisdom, direction and power to follow
    God’s will and for this gathering as they discern a way forward.

    “It is the praying heart that sanctifies the toil and skill of the hands, and the toil and wisdom of the head. Prayer keeps work in the line of God’s will, and keeps thought in the line of God’s Word. ” E.M. Bounds

  4. Dave Roser says:

    Thank you for a most level-headed view of the up-coming Gathering. What a concept: that 1450 delegates won’t be able to come to a single path for the solution to all our problems across the spectrum. I, too, am hoping it doesn’t turn into, as one person has noted, a giant Kumbaya event and pray for the leading of the Spirit to direct us all to an idea we can return to our homes with and ruminate on with our Sessions. I do also realize the small church I serve won’t be able to afford to send me on any more fact-finding misssions, so I have high hopes. To those who say, About all we can do is pray! I say, Bologna. We all need to get on our faces and pray in the Spirit’s power to accomplish that for which we are being called together. I have very high hopes!

  5. Wendy Kazmarek says:

    Gayle: Thank you for your bullet points. I think this is something our congregation could understand and commit to. We have the opportunity to be a great force with leadership and direction in our community.

  6. Shelley says:

    To Gayle: I echo Sylvia Cervantes’ remarks and thanks as I am in the same boat as she; no formal theological education, etc. It is also my hope and prayer that we can continue to study and pray for what is best for our local and small congregation. Thank you again.

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