Update on Fellowship Goals and Next Steps

Update on Fellowship Goals and Next Steps

It has been almost two months since our last letter (May 4), and in that time significant change in our denominational reality has come with the passage of Amendment 10-A and ratification of the new Form of Government. Neither of these changes affects the vision or the intent of the Fellowship, but the passage of these amendments does change the context in which we are discerning God’s call to mission-shaped ministry and to new ways of being church.

In mid-June, the Steering Committee of the Fellowship brought together the Advisory Group and over 20 other evangelical leaders from across the PC(USA) to discuss both the framework of the upcoming Gathering (August 25-26) and the broad trajectory of the Fellowship’s plan and goals. At that meeting we encountered both the immensity of the challenge—thinking and dreaming beyond the limitation of our current chaotic context(s), and the even greater potential of this time in the Church—realizing that God is doing more than we can ask or imagine, and that we have the opportunity, and in many ways now new freedom, to be part of God’s plan and purpose.  As we worked through these realities together, many participants agreed that what we were experiencing in that meeting was a paradigm for what a healthy presbytery can and should be: spiritually alive fellowship, worship, and prayer, and productive conversation toward a mutually desired goal.

While many more specifics about the August Gathering will be addressed as we now begin to update the FAQs on this website, here are some of the main points that emerged from the Minneapolis meeting.

The goal of the Fellowship is to form a new way for Presbyterian congregations to relate, recapturing more of what it means to be the body of Christ.  The mission of the Fellowship is to create an environment in which these congregations can grow and thrive as communities in covenant. Shaped by our shared faith, we are committed to new ways of identifying and nurturing leaders, and to starting new biblically-grounded faith communities.

While the original motivation for the Fellowship was a desire to positively impact the decline and increasing dysfunction of the PC(USA), the passage of Amendment 10-A has brought an enormous challenge into the discussion.  Suddenly, a new reality has emerged in our denomination, creating a crisis of integrity for Presbyterians who remain committed to theological orthodoxy.  The impact of 10-A is also imperiling our relationship with many in the global Church.

Given this new reality, the Fellowship is designed to be an umbrella under which individuals and congregations together will:

  • be nurtured and encouraged in our common faith in Jesus Christ and our commitment to proclaim the gospel in our communities be challenged and held accountable for our discipleship and witness;
  • be stimulated to embrace the missional call of God;
  • show equal respect for the call to ministry upon men and women of every race and culture;
  • proclaim our need of repentance, and God’s power to transform individual lives and culture; and
  • demonstrate biblical reconciliation and justice, praying for the peace and welfare of the world.

Existing underneath this umbrella will be congregations and individuals who are called to ministry both within and beyond the current boundaries of their presbyteries or of the PC(USA).  We in the Fellowship recognize and affirm that different contexts of ministry call for different and equally faithful strategies of ministry, and we are committed to co-laboring with brothers and sisters in Christ who share the goals and commitments of the Fellowship.

One option under the Fellowship umbrella will be a new Reformed body that, while desiring to maintain mutually helpful association with the PC(USA) and its related institutions, will nonetheless provide a clear and distinct identity beyond the PC(USA).  Documents required for the creation of this new Reformed body are in process.

We are encouraged by ongoing and, so far, productive conversations with the Stated Clerk and other leaders of the PC(USA) who recognize both the unsustainability and the great potential of our current situation, and who are working with us to identify workable options and alternatives.

We believe the new Form of Government (nFoG) provides specific options previously unavailable to us, and we are exploring these.  Because of this, we strongly recommend that individuals and congregations move carefully and deliberately at this time allowing time for the full potential of our changing denominational landscape to come into clearer focus.  Previously existing options for departure are not time sensitive.  However, we have only begun to explore the possibilities that may be available to us without the rancor of departure, and we are actively pursuing these.

More than anything, the Fellowship embraces our current “crisis” as a time of enormous potential as we discover what God is doing in and through us, and the new ways God is calling and enabling us to be the Church: compelled by His grace, redeemed by His Son, and rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

62 Responses

  1. Barbara Willis says:

    Does this mean you do not agree with amendment 10-A?

  2. Wes Fortin says:

    I certainly hope the discussion in August will be, shall we say, more pointed than this. The five bullet points above could be taken from the website of any Christian denomination. Reading this post I get the impression that the Fellowship is less about theology and more about providing a communicationsocial vehicle for the interaction of congregations. Facebook does that.

    If I boil this post down looking for actionable items, it seems to say things have changed since our last post. We are committed to talking more. We have no time table for action We are evaluating different options. I see nothing like Luther’s 95 Theses.

    If there is any action going on, it’s not transparent to us laymen or it’s not occurring at all. My expectations for August being more than a giant Kumbaya session have plummeted. I will continue to pray for God’s chuch and PC(USA) in hopes of a Gideon being raised up from our ranks.

    • It is fortunate, Wes, that there are other options available to you. Many churches and individuals are exploring a variety of courses as they discern what will be a faithful and faith-filled future. I am of the opinion that there are probably multiple faithful options to congregations – the Fellowship may be one, but there are undoubtedly others. If action items and a more brisk time-table are of the higher order for you than the approach the Fellowship is taking, then I would guess that currently-existing options may be better suited. I don’t mean that in a dismissive way – it just seems like for some the Fellowship may be the square peg for the round hole. In the current context of perceived crisis, I am getting the impression that people are looking at the Fellowship to be a life-raft of sorts….I think expectations like those are bound to be disappointed.

      • Wes Fortin says:

        I’ve come to the same conclusion, Duncan.

        I had hoped and expected the Fellowship to be a rallying point for opposition to the liberal assault on our church in the spirit of Luther (who sought reform) or Calvin (who deemed the old body dead and insisted on a clean start). It’s clear to me that the Fellowship is neither. Frankly, since the posts in May, I’m not really sure what the Fellowship is anymore.

        I’ll be departing now. God bless the efforts of his faithful. We look forward even more to the return of our Lord.

      • Duncan,
        So what other options are there? I had hoped that the Fellowship would enable evangelicals to respond and act together with one voice. Increasingly, this seems not to be the case. But at least they are doing something; at the moment, I don’t see any other group stepping forward to take a lead.

        • Hi Alan,

          First, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I was at the planning meeting for the Fellowship earlier this month. I am one of those people that the letter describes, that felt hopeful about what could be coming out of all of this…I also understand the letters lack of specifics because, frankly, this is a new thing that is being birthed. It won’t look like other things out there, though there is a great deal of pressure to have it wrapped up neat and tidy as soon as possible. I believe such pressure, if allowed to prevail, will end up curtailing the creative process happening and what will be produced will not achieve it’s lofty and admirable goals.

          That being said, many churches are feeling the need to respond, and respond now. The EPC is, of course, a great option for a lot of those who are concerned. I have friends who have pursued or are pursuing that course. I am not, nor is my church, but not because of any large disagreement with the EPC. I’ve heard people talk about CRC and even the ECC, which is a novel and interesting concept. All of these options require that the congregation involved do the hard work of negotiating an exit from the PC(USA) – this will be true even of the Fellowship option, the “New Reformed Body”.

          Please understand that I am not advocating leaving, nor should my comments be construed as recruiting for any of those bodies, nor for the Fellowship. I believe there are faithful options both within and outside the PC(USA), and I realize not everyone that comes to this site shares that opinion. What I do think we all share is the burden of discernment and then the hard work of moving a church in the direction the congregation and its leadership see as the most faithful one. None of the choices out there can make that easier for any congregation…the Fellowship may end up providing a fascinating new destination, but the journey will remain ours to make.

          I pray for you and your congregation as I pray for ours – may the Spirit of the Living God lead you through this wilderness and provide for you in the journey ahead.

          Kind Regards,

    • Peter larson says:

      Well spoken, Wes. This is indeed a “Here I Stand” moment in the life of the PC(USA) but very few people seem to grasp this fact. What is most needed at this point – and which all of us should be able to agree on – is that the PC(USA) as a denomination is apostate and has forsaken the true and living God. Whatever action or future we decide upon – regardless of whether we leave or stay – should be predicated on a clear statement of the error and heresy of our denomination. However, this does not seem to be forthcoming. Instead, we seem intent on trying to make peace, peace where there is no peace.

  3. The key paragraph, for many of us, in the long-awaited update, is the following:
    “One option under the Fellowship umbrella will be a new Reformed body that, while desiring to maintain mutually helpful association with the PC(USA) and its related institutions, will nonetheless provide a clear and distinct identity beyond the PC(USA). Documents required for the creation of this new Reformed body are in process.”
    What exactly does this mean? Does it refer to the permissions necessary to withdraw, or to the constitutional documents that would delineate or create a new entity? If the former, what hope is there that the denomination is prepared to deal graciously with those who, in good conscience, find it impossible to remain? If the latter, surely those who wish to be part of such a body should have a say in its creation? Or am I reading too much into the phrase “clear and distinct identity beyond the PC(USA)”? Is there really no intention of providing a way out for those who feel that they must leave?
    Here’s another question: Have those in leadership in the Fellowship actively pursued a relationship with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church or any other already existing Reformed denomination? If not, why not?
    Our current situation requires that evangelicals within the denomination be united behind clearly defined convictions, not vague generalities. Anything less and this kairos moment will pass us by, and our solemn declarations will be seen for what they are – nothing more than treaties on the road to Babylon.

  4. Jake Horner says:

    I have to confess that I am disappointed with this statement. One could change just a few words and it would read just like anything put out by the liberal caucus of the PCUSA.

  5. Jim Howe says:

    I am thankful for the unity expressed in your statement. I am relieved that finally the concern that many of us are looking for an option beyond the PCUSA is one the table. We are being heard by those who are struggling just like us.
    To those of you like me who are more than concerned about the state of our denomination and ready to leave, we need to recognize the broad diversity within the evangelical component of the PCUSA. 1.) The differences are not just theological. 2.)There is the component of grief and denial. We are all in different places in our grief. 3.) Differing contexts: There are also the challenges each church faces. Since I pastor two congregations maybe I am more aware of the different dynamics. Large church pastors in suburbia have different issues to work through than large church pastors in urban settings. There is no getting around it we are in what I am calling the soup. Only Christ can give us clarity of insight. We have so much catch up work ahead of us. Thank you for your statement and friends let stick together at least until we sit down together.
    My prayer is that the gospel would be set free to be a smelling salts gospel. There is no turning back. Negotiating with the denomination is having increasingly diminishing results. Testimonies from those who have attended General Assembly are painful. We are facing a denomination that wears a “nice” face but uses increasingly more coercive techniques. We must confess our faith in Jesus Christ and act. Act, that is the crucial word. Pray, theologize, wait on the Lord but act. Is there a way forward that the Spirit is calling us to that will be more Catholic, more evangelical, more reformed, more orthodox, more missional? I believe that is and we will see our way a we cling to Jesus Christ as he is the only One who can hold us together (Col. 1:17). There is already suffering and there will be more. The good news is that in the suffering we can be the salt and light Christ called us to be.
    I hope we can get out disagreements on the table before we get to Minneapolis so that we can role up our sleeves, confess, obey and follow Christ out into a new future. Lord Jesus help us.

  6. Rob says:

    At the outset, I share that I am troubled by the increasing emphasis that the Fellowship seems to be placing on creating a new denomination. It saddens me that we, within the PCUSA, can’t disagree with love and within community, but find it necessary to break community with those with whom we disagree (blame is not the issue here–all sides are culpable. It just saddens me that we can’t disagree within community). It also saddens me to think of Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John’s Gospel, and Jesus’ pertinent pleas to the Father that his followers “may be one.”

    I also understand that sisters and brothers in Christ who interpret Scripture differently from me are passionate about this issues in ways I simply do not and perhaps cannot understand. But from what I do understand, for those on the right of this issue, the debate over Amendment 10A (which this letter paints as a/the central issue) is waged over Scriptural authority and faithulness to the church’s confessional standards. However, for those on the left of this issue (and those who I’d argue still hold Scripture to be the head of the Church but who don’t interpret it the same as those on the right), this issue is about Scriptural authority AND integrity.

    So here’s the very ironic part: for those on the left of 10A, this issue of biblical integrity plays out (ironically) as an issue of equality when it comes to the issue of sexual orientation. Thus, I was taken aback by the Fellowship’s claim to stand for equality for all cultures, when the left views the struggle for 10A as an issue of biblical equality.

    • Jake Horner says:


      You are right to say that we in the PCUSA ought to be able to “disagree with love and within community” — but only on things that are adiaphora (things that don’t matter). You are also right to say that oneness matters — oneness is a ‘diaphora’ (a thing that matters).

      The authority of Scripture is a diaphora — we are not free to set aside anything that Scripture speaks with unanimous clarity.

      Likewise, for those of us that are officers in the PCUSA, who have taken a vow to “sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do… and be led by those confessions…,” faithfulness to the confessions is a diaphora.

      (one correction — Scripture is not the ‘head of the Church,’ Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church.)

      The problem here is that somebody is just plain wrong in their interpretation. What good is integrity if an interpretation is wrong? It isn’t possible that God can both approve of and disapprove of homoerotic practice at the same time. That would be nonsense. So who is wrong?

      The issue of proper expression of human sexuality is NOT adiaphora! It cuts to the very core of what it means to be a human being in the image of God. Which god shall we proclaim — the one who approves of homoerotic practice, or the one who does not approve of homoerotic practice? One of these is a false god. Who is proclaiming the false god?

      How can there be peace in a body in which some are proclaiming a false god?
      Where is the purity in a body in which some are proclaiming a false god?
      Where is the unity in a body in which some are proclaiming a false god?

      “For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them …” ” (2Co 6:14-17a ESV).

      There can be peace, unity, and purity only when the church is accurately proclaiming the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ. Part of that Gospel involves our sexuality. The ones who are wrong have need of repentance, otherwise in subjection to Scripture separation is the obedient choice. I would much prefer to see repentance, but I only see an obstinate stubbornness.

      • Rob says:

        Thank you for your response, Jake.

        I wonder, why does one side have to be “wrong.” Isn’t it true that, as reformed Chrsitians, we understand we’ll never be “right.” We will never know all there is to know about God. We will never live as fully or faithfully as we could and should. Or, in other words, we can always be growing in our relationships with God, our understandings of God according to Scripture, as wel las closer to who we believe God is calling us to be?

        But what’s more dangerous, I believe, is a notion that just because two sides disagree on a particular issue (adiophora or a diaphora) that one is necessarily worshipping a “a false god.” Do Catholics or Jews belive in a false God?

        For example, I believe you and I likely interpret the beginning chapters of Romans very differently. I also believe we interpret Sodom and Gomorrah differently. I also believe you and I probably look at the Levitical laws differently. But apart from that, I suspect our interpretations of Scripture are fairly similar.

        Similarly, I am not comfortable proclaiming what is diaphora and what is not. Is belief that Mary is a virgin adiaphora? Will this be an essential tenent of The Fellowship? This all harkens back to Old School – New School, and I don’t want to travel down that path again. For instance, is the ordination of women adiaphora? Do those who live and serve in faiths that do not ordain women worship a different or false god?

        Rather, I would posit that you and worship the exact same God, the triune God who revealed God’s self to be Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer, and who chooses not to be God without us. God is a Lord who loves us both and yearns deeply for us to live lives that display our love for God as well as our love for each other. How else can the Church expect to testify to the peace to be found in Christ? We cannot do so when we call those with whom we disagree heretical, wrong, or those who worship a false god.

  7. Joe Duffus says:

    Impatience is natural for many of us these days, but I see the Fellowship’s efforts so far to be aimed specifically at congregations, and not for individuals who are questioning remaining in their current church. That’s worth remembering, as is the fact that… we’re Presbyterians! Liberal or conservative, we don’t do anything without a million meetings! Particularly not something as momentous as leaving the denomination and striking out on our own.

    Many people are expecting a lot from the August meeting in Minneapolis. I’m hoping — for now — for a way that faithful congregations can worship without the stain of PCUSA’s apostasy, but also without triggering an avalanche of legal battles across the country that will only serve to waste our time and money. I’ve read stories about those battles, how they can split churches and how the denomination has played legal hardball over property. Those kinds of battles may be the only way for some churches, but they should think long and hard before proceeding if that’s their intention.

    Note that Fellowship people are having productive discussions with the present denominational leaders. That sounds positive to me, though some may think otherwise. Maybe Pharaoh’s heart can be softened after all, and he will in time let our people go!

  8. Ellen says:

    Rob, I appreciate your words. As I read them, they bring up a couple of responses:

    (1) When you say, the left views the struggle for 10A as an issue of biblical equality, I think you come close to identifying why the left, and the right, are so distant from each other right now. As someone you’d probably lodge on the right, with regard to 10A, I don’t view it as an issue of biblical equality or inequality – in fact, to even phrase it in that way points to a foundational theological difference between you and me.

    (2) For me 10A is not only about how various members of our denomination interpret Scripture. It also implies that I will face significant challenges as a leader in the future if I seek to lead my congregation in a way that is different from what our new BOO will say. That does not excite me.

    Having said both of these things, however, I hear and appreciate your desire for the family to stay together. I would love that too – I joined the PCUSA because I loved the church in both theology and praxis. Truthfully, I must say that I struggle to balance your words about being one with the actions of a nearby presbytery that has been brutal and unfair to brothers and sisters that don’t agree with them about 10A. And that’s the thing: I hear a lot of talk from folks I guess we’d put on the, left, of 10A about unity, but I haven’t yet felt any of them reach across to me or my colleagues on the, right, with any empathy, validation or sadness at what we are currently experiencing. Perhaps when the fist-pumping dies down. But in the meantime, for some of us the passage of 10A has caused a deep hurt and until I see some kind of grace or understanding by those who may disagree with me, their pleas for unity will ring hollow.

    • Rob says:


      Thank you for your very thoughtful response. You are absolutely right that our oneness in Christ should prevent part of the body from celebrating while another part suffers. That those on the other side of 10A are perceived as celebrating while you are grieving is, I’m sure, only compounds the grief, and does nothing to promote the unity we so desparately need right now.

      It would be arrogant of me to say that I understand your grief, since we disagree on the issue. However, please believe me that I am sorry this has caused you and thousands of other good and faithful Presbyterterians what I know is significant pain. I can share that within my presbytery, efforts are well underway of promoting dialogue with churches who have expressed pain over 10A’s passage. It is slow and difficult and messy and, at times, not so pretty; but I believe it’s important to healing and reconciliation.

      What’s more, and our poor responses not withstanding, I would maintain that we are called to be one together. Grace surely needs to be given and received, but we are a better witness to Christ when we show the world that we can live in unity and peace and love even when we do not agree and even, at times, hurt each other.

      Peace to you.

  9. Tim Marvil says:

    Thank you for the update. I think you should know that I believe many of the 1000 plus attendees are coming, like me, to hear and feel what the Fellowship is about and what trajectory this will take. I won’t apologize for my thinking – I like what I read, but I need to see, feel and hear for myself where this thing is going. I have too much at stake to go all in on a blind draw.

  10. ken folmsbee says:

    When the FellowshipPCUSA idea was initially introduced, I had significant hope that a new reformed body would be established of like-minded ministers and churches that stand against 10A and everything that the amendment makes possible. In May of this year, the waters were muddied considerably and I began to believe there was no clear focus. Though I will be in Minneapolis in August, your latest communique does little to bolster remaining hope. To remain in affiliation in any capacity is to severely hamper, among other things, evangelistic efforts or assimilation of biblically-minded Christians into our congregations. Scriptural authority and its preminent place in the Christian Church is vital to its quantitative and qualitative growth. Perhaps the sincere efforts of those who are “steering” this entity will untimately lead to a more clear and distinct option for those of us who are pursuing the one that most glorifies the God of Heaven, and exalts the Lord Jesus Christ!

  11. Jake Horner says:


    You said:

    That being said, many churches are feeling the need to respond, and respond now. The EPC is, of course, a great option for a lot of those who are concerned. I have friends who have pursued or are pursuing that course. I am not, nor is my church, but not because of any large disagreement with the EPC. I’ve heard people talk about CRC and even the ECC, which is a novel and interesting concept. All of these options require that the congregation involved do the hard work of negotiating an exit from the PC(USA) – this will be true even of the Fellowship option, the “New Reformed Body”.

    If we are still going to have to ‘do the hard work of negotiating an exit’ in order to join with the Fellowship, what makes the Fellowship any more attractive than (for example) departing to the EPC?


  12. Jim Berkley says:

    At the moment, we evangelicals are a bunch of prickly cats to be herded. I would not want to be in the leadership’s shoes, given the passionate and often conflicting demands being put on the meeting.Let’s deal with one another with grace and goodwill, and see where this goes.

    • Randy Schreurs Hugo OK says:

      Well said Jim. “Prickly cats” are very challenging to deal with. Let’s respond to each other in gracious ways that reflect our Master. I won’t be able to attend the Fellowship gather but look forward to hearing more.

  13. Greg Wiest says:

    A word about the Fellowship. I am going to Minneapolis, hoping for the best. But a top down, self appointed leadership that lets the rest of us know what we ought to do probably won’t fly this time. Pastors that I know want to have a say in the outcomes. There probably ought to be some voting and some buy in. An informational meeting or just a gripe session and then being told: this is what we will do, will be a big disappointment. Registered attendees should have a real say. I don’t mind that the folks organizing are setting the agenda or direction, but it all ought to be open to amendment, shifting and real decisions made by those of us who go. Or let the attendees elect who will be in leadership. We don’t need just another conference.

  14. Bob Veale says:

    I read the statement but I must ask where is the boldness? Where are the 95 theses? Where are the actions that would startle the denomination into a response? On first appearence, the plan is a long-term plan that would only occur years from now – if ever. Also, it seems like this “new reformed body” will have virtually no connection with the PCUSA. Why not just go the distance? Or is it that congregations are going to have dual citizenship in which case congregations will still be under the authority of the PCUSA. Perhaps I just need to wait to see what is decided (or not) at the meeting.

  15. Hi Jake,

    Let me start with a disclaimer – the following represent my own views/hopes/opinions and not that of the church I serve nor of the Fellowship PC(USA).

    You pose a great question and it is one a lot of people are asking. It also is a revealing one, since it presumes as the first point the issue of leaving. In other words, for many churches and individuals, the primary issue might be voiced as, We are going to leave….but to where? And so, what people want the Fellowship to answer is, Make the case for why we should go with you and your plan. Does that sound like a fair read?

    Here’s the thing, and why I think there is a constant low-mid level frustration being voiced here and in other channels about the communications from the Fellowship so far: that’s not the first question being answered by the Fellowship. I might suggest (see disclaimer above) the following questions might more closely serve as a starting point: If we were to start from scratch, gather churches together and organize ourselves in a way that reflected missional direction and post-denominational realities, what would it look like? If you could restructure the church so that we related to one another in ways that avoided the entrenchment of systems and ideologies that we currently see, what would it look like? If we churches were to relate to each other in new ways, if we were to approach leadership development in new ways, what would it look like?

    Change of this order is hard to do in a system as large as the PC(USA)…it often takes a crisis to develop the necessary energy to do so. That crisis has come in two ways, one of which is helpful, one of which may not be. The first sense of crisis has been that slow-growing sense of denominational decline, felt by all parties, from one end of the theological spectrum to the other. That is the deathly ill part of the Fellowship’s initial impetus. It has reached the point where it is time to start trying new things. The second crisis has been the passage of 10-A and nFOG, which has created a firestorm of sorts throughout the denomination and led churches and individuals to jump right to the conclusion, We have to leave. That energy may not be directed at the kind of change the Fellowship is proposing. For churches that hold that conviction as paramount, or see no way to faithfully continue any relationship with the PC(USA) at all, pre-existing exit options may be best.

    So, here’s the long-awaited answer to your question: What makes the Fellowship option more attractive? It will be a very interesting project if those other questions, if those new possibilities for doing church, are right there at the top of your interests and concerns. If leaving is the thing, then it may not stand out among other options.

    You are getting some of my own processing here, and I hope you take it as such. There are other voices involved in the project that would probably answer your question differently, and I hope you are able to seek out enough viewpoints to assist you as you discern your way through difficult decisions. May God grant you discernment and conviction as you work through these complex issues.

    Kind Regards,

    • Jake Horner says:


      Thank you for your response. Although I have to admit that my knee-jerk reaction to 10-A was to bolt, I personally am still discerning what the Lord would have me do. I did frame the question as if I were leaving.

      The kind of adaptive change that you are suggesting is probably necessary in post-Christendom, post-denominational America, regardless of 10-A and nFOG. The difficult part of adaptive change is convincing folks that some short term pain will lead to long term gain. The Church has to change if it is going proclaim the Gospel in the post-modern landscape we now find ourselves in. As you say, the current crisis precipitated by 10-A has brought things into sharp focus, but the Church was facing the necessity for change anyway because of the ways in which culture is changing around us.

      If we were to start from scratch, gather churches together and organize ourselves in a way that reflected missional direction and post-denominational realities, what would it look like?

      Focused on aiding the local congregation its particular context, through networking with congregations in similar contexts, resource sharing, discipleship (especially of elders), flexibility, openness to to out-of-the-box ways of doing things …

      If you could restructure the church so that we related to one another in ways that avoided the entrenchment of systems and ideologies that we currently see, what would it look like?

      Light on top. Simplify our confessional statement (it might be time to write a new confession). Set out some minimum essentials of the Reformed faith that leadership must subscribe to (!). Allow local congregations maximum flexibility. Be willing to partner with reformed churches outside the PCUSA in common mission contexts.

      If we churches were to relate to each other in new ways, if we were to approach leadership development in new ways, what would it look like?

      Social networking offers a new way to relate to others in ways that weren’t practical before. It is now reasonable to query a pastor or church who is on the other side of the country but in a similar mission context. We need to make good use of that. We need to disciple/mentor the next generation of leaders before they have to step into our shoes; perhaps bring something of an apprenticeship model to our seminary education.

      my (not very well organized) $0.02,


  16. Many of us in the rural small church face the question of mere survival. To remain in the denomination is difficult theologically, but leaving likely means the death of the local church. The denomination can [ and most likely will] claim the property which includes the manse and therefore my home. We are no longer a young or growing congregation for the population on rural Montana is declining. The local congregation cannot afford a full time pastor so I am working part time as a pastor and needing to find other work outside the Church to support my family. Given the fact that the “small church” office of the GA has been eliminated despite some 52% of the denomination having less than 100 members [ and of that I am told only about 1500 have full time ordained pastors at present], it is clearly a major concern for the future which has yet to be addressed.
    Although I have 34+ years in the ministry, the opportunities to move at my age are minimal. In addition, either the Board of Pensions has changed its position or what I was told some four years ago was false, but the position is if I leave the denomination I will not be able to continue building up my pension even if I make the payments myself. The Board of Pensions has made it clear that 70 rather than 65 is the expected retirement age for full pension . How is this being addressed? h

  17. George Mitchell says:

    I find it very difficult to get my head around what the Fellowship is presently seeking to do. When I first signed up to go to the meeting in August, it appeared that discussion was going to be around what those of us who are like-minded, biblically oriented, and solidly under the authority of Scripture were going to do as we sought to find a solution to establishing us as a united body outside of the influences and directives of a denomination that we believed to have removed itself from Reformed and Presbyterian doctrine and polity. The statement that I have just read seems to be nothing more than the same uncommitted language that offers no real solution.

    A denomination within a denomination is still ultimately answerable to the entity that fostered it. Truth and holiness will still be confused with what both are saying, doing and declaring. The honor of Christ and his glory is still at stake. Nothing has been said or declared to the watching world. For 20 to 14 years a group has pressed and pressed until it accomplished what it wanted. What is next? Whatever they want! It seems that after so many years we would have learned that a radical decision must be made. We must make it with tears and with sadness, but it must be made.

  18. Bruce Marten says:

    Reading the latest letter and comments has led me to doubt if I should have signed up for the event. I’ve been to various renewal gatherings before, and it has been my experience that nothing collectively has been produced when all was said and “done.” I suppose certain personality types like process more than product, or are by nature very cautious, but given 10-A’s passage we have an abiblical product in our midst that must be met with a biblical one; not just a process that goes on without a clear set of goals and doesn’t produce.
    I realize creativity is in the works and takes time, but is a large group the place for this? Are we going to seek to duplicate the Jerusalem council in Acts 15? That would be cool. But, I’m concerned the Fellowship has jumped ahead of itself and has nothing real to offer yet and I’ll be returning home with nothing tangible again. I pray that this is not the case.
    I hope there will be at least two main tracks/groups rooted in theological unity and integrity in response to what 10-A represents on a deeper level:
    1) Those who believe they are to remain in the PCUSA in some fashion;
    2) Those who believe they are not to remain in the PCUSA in any fashion.
    If there is just a muddle in the middle, the road will indeed by murky and likely unprofitable either way. That’s my concern. I’m just grateful God’s sight is crystal clear. The Lord’s will be done. I’ll be there seeking the Truth for our future.
    In Christ, Bruce

    • Scott W. says:

      Bruce, I tend to have feelings and concerns similar to yours prior to attending attending the August conference. However, I also agree with the point Linda Lee made in a previous letter about needing to wait on the Lord. This will be the most difficult thing we do. We should pray first and talk last.

    • Jim Howe says:

      Well said. God help us all.

  19. Mike T says:

    I do not understand all the fuss about 10-A. It is not the problem, but the symptom of a much broader and more significant problem. We have always been divided in the PCUSA between evangelicals who hold to the traditional hermeneutic’s ranking:

    1) Scripture’s plain meaning
    2) How the Early Church interpreted Scripture
    3) Logic
    4) Experience

    The Liberals reverse these. This is how they claim that Scripture supports homosexual practice, etc…

    Why should we work so hard and stay in union with folks who fundamentally interpret Scripture (and therefore have different values that stem from that interpretation) than we do? Why is it good for them either?

    We should just agree to disagree, and find a way to graciously leave the PCUSA. Why fight with the other side – it’s not like people are going to change their minds…

    Is it the view of the fellowship that we should not leave because of property issues? Frankly, I don’t find that reason in Scripture – people gave their lives to defend doctrine, we should be willing to sacrifice property. Jesus was far less tolerant of corruption of doctrine in the church than we seem to be.

    We should just move on, and God will deal with the leaders on the other side. We should be focused on how God will deal with us because we tolerate what He hates.

    • Frances says:

      Thank you. The approach of the Fellowship outlined here seems to me not to be waiting for or listening to God, but rather to be ignoring what we already know from God’s word in order to serve our own purposes (involving money and property among other things). It seems like another attempt to do nothing. It’s time to acknowledge that God has left this denomination to go its own way, and we need to step out in faith and do the same. What exactly are we clinging to? Why not our Heavenly Father and His Word instead of an earthly construct? Yes, God is calling us to do something really hard, but isn’t that where the saints have found His greatest blessing?

  20. Linda Lee says:

    It seems like there are so many needs, different circumstances, multiple options, available for those coming to the Fellowship. Thank you to the leaders of this group for taking your time to develope what the possible next move(s) might be for those who seek God’s will after A-10 and N-Fog became a reality in the PC(USA). I know you have prayerfully sought direction!
    I would like to plead with you, as leaders and planners, and with all who are attending as well as those who are sympthetic but who can not attend the Fellowship to learn to “wait” on the Lord.
    One of the last things that Jesus commanded the disciples was: “Do not leave Jerusalem, But WAIT for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” Acts 1:4 They then were in one accord waiting in prayer for direction and power that comes from the Holy Spirit.
    That WAITinig on God is one of the hardest things for those of us who like controll, action, answers, knowing which way to go, how to act, making plans and the like.
    WAITing seems so inactive, passive. However, taking an intentional position of being ready to receive some revelation from God is so needed. We have a God who does reveal Himself and who will reveal His plans. Do you believe that?
    I urge you, everyone, to make time to WAIT (actively wait) on God in prayer.
    When you go to your session, to your presbytery, to the Fellowhip put aside your own agenda and wait, listen, actively on God. The pattern I see in churches, session meetings, Presbyteries and especially the GA is a token prayer of 5 – 10 mintues and hours and hours and days and days of planning, discussing, listening to speakers and pondering (sometimes arguing). Instead lets turn that around and spend hours on WAITing on God until we hear from God. Like Jacob, lets not stop waiting until we are “blessed”. Do you believe God can give us answers? Do you know we can be in “one accord” if we
    take a position of looking to God rather than our own selfish interests or even what we perceive is the best interest of our church. I urge the leaders of the Fellowship to plan
    significant time to just stop the activity, discussion, speakers and WAIT in an attitude of being open to hear what direction God wants us to take. It may be one of the hardest things for us to do – to WAIT – for the Holy Spirit to speak.
    Those who can not go to the Fellowship can be in intense intercessory prayer too.
    In this important time of decision, let us all WAIT on God for the revelation that can unite us in one accord according to God’s will!

  21. George Hook says:

    The PC(USA) needs to throw out the BoO. The Bible is the only book that we need to use, not someone’s ideas or interpretation. The Bible is God’s word to all of us. All elders or leaders in a congregation is responsible for the teachings of that body of believers. When the parent organization of the congregations condones and encourages teachings that are contrary to the Bible, it reflects directly on the individual congregations under that umbrella. Anytime that teachings are contrary to the Bible, they become false teachings and the teachers of them are false teachers. What God calls sin in the Bible is still sin today regardless of today’s culture. Any elder or leader will be held accountable to God for allowing these teachings in their congregations. The sinner is accountable for his own sins and the leader or elder is also accountable if they allow teachings that sin is not sin.

    The great commission tells us to go into all the world and teach the Gospel (Jesus birth, death, resurrection, and ascension), baptize them, and teach them My commandments. Part of teaching Jesus commandments is teaching that what God calls sin is really sin.

    I see no place in the Bible where God puts pastors and preachers above anyone else. In the newFOG, the PC(USA) is doing exactly that. Under the new system an elder cannot chair a meeting. What are our preachers and pastors afraid of? Maybe they should take a long look at what they are teaching. I know a lot of great pastors and preachers. I also know some pastors and preachers who are womanizers, pedophiles, thieves, murderers, etc. These people are human just like the people that fill the pews in the churches. We are all subject to the same sins. It is time to quit covering up for the few that are out of line.

    Let’s get back to preaching scripture instead of leaning to our own understanding. We will all stand before God one day and give account for ourselves. The BoC will not save us. They are great confessions and teaching aids but it is our own individual confession that really counts. Let us remember that the Bible is God’s word to all His people. Let us follow it. ….Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. 1 Cor 5:6

  22. Richard Conway, elder First Morganton, NC says:

    I wish to make a comment to the steering committee and the advisory group. A few days ago, I read a brief explanation of this update and it stated congregations and individuals would have an option. In this document it seems to be the individuals to be protected are pastors. I am an individual (elder) in a congregation that is NOT unified, is there a way to remain in this congregation and NOT be under the spell and authority of PCUSA nor see my tithing end up in our Presbytery or PCUSA. I would like to see our Pastors be protected but I wold also like to see the orthodox or evangelical members of our congregation protected too. What say you?

  23. Patrick Vaughn says:

    At Paul Detterman, I wasn’t sure until I googled your name by what authority you were replying to Barbara Willis’ question. It would be helpful for those of you on the advisory committee or in leadership to identify yourselves so that #1 we know that the leadership is listening #2 whether or not you are representing the Fellowship’s views or your own. Sorry if this comes across as calling you out, it is not meant to be that, but rather a request to help understanding as we dialogue.

    Changing topics:

    I visited this website early on fairly regularly but stopped because I felt like a lot of the conversation centered on anger at the current state of the PC (USA) and taking a bold stand. There is clearly a lot to be frustrated about and much frustration has been expressed here. But, this is a microcosm of some of the issues facing the PC (USA). So much energy is put into bolstering our defenses and planning our next moves as if it was a game of chess to defeat an opponent. Both sides are guilty of this polarizing approach.

    What gives me hope about the Fellowship is what makes many of you frustrated. The fact that there is no “95 theses” or bold stand is good news to me because this breaks with the old pattern of polarizing and paralyzing debate. Things are unclear because they are still unfolding. Those of you afraid that there is no room for voices of elders or congregations should be relieved by this. We need to bear with one another with patience as we seek the Holy Spirit to guide us in new, unfolding, yet to be revealed and probably painful directions.

    As I read the Fellowship’s latest statement, this is not about 10-A. It’s about how we are to be the church in our particular place in history, part of which is 10-A but also includes an American church that has largely failed, especially mainlines, at passing on lived faith to our younger generation (See Almost Christian by Kenda Dean or Soul Searching by Christian Smith). We find ourselves in a denomination where faith formation, passing on lived faith, is not happening. To me this is an even greater issue than our lack of passion for evangelism. Our witness begins with how we love one another and we do a poor job of loving one another when we fail to build one another up. I would argue that 10-A is not the biggest issue facing us. Instead, it is a church ill-equipped to discern the mind of Christ. I am a youth pastor and acknowledge I am guilty in many ways of perpetuating a model of ministry that has hindered faith formation and stunted everyday lived faith at home, work, in play and with our neighbors. Inarticulate and compartmentalized faith among teens is not a teen issue but is the fault of the church’s that have nurtured them. My hope is that 10-A is seen as part of our challenging context rather than the center of debate. We need a new way forward, a way that equips and empowers church’s to make disciples, starting with ourselves, our congregations and our families.

    • Wes Fortin says:

      It’s this thought chain, and comments by others in the more recent Fellowship posts, that have sapped my faith that the Fellowship is, theologically, a paper tiger.

      Of what use is it to restructure a church and the way it does business, when the message it teaches is false? When I read the NT, I’m not seeing the writers agonizing over the best way to organize the congregations. I’m not seeing endless debate on polity. Nor dicussions of how to organize the new church in a Post Jewish Grec0-Roman world. Nor endless debate on how to reconcile with the cultural differences of the Empire, the Germanic tribes, and the influences and differences of the Eastern cultures.

      I see a laser focus on teaching truth and correcting heresy. If, as several posters suggest, we set aside the truth for a while for the sake of unity and focus on the structure of the church – then we might end up with a new structure in which to teach apostasy. An appealing cup that’s full of unappealing wine. I recall several words from Christ on this type of focus.

      I wish you all well.

      • Patrick Vaughn says:

        Wes- I am in no way advocating setting aside truth for the sake of unity. Rather, I look at a younger generation who doesn’t know how to discern the truth, who are not conversant in the language of faith. I see lots of people who genuinely love Christ but do not have the tools to articulate nor discern the mind of Christ. I want ways for us as churches to support one another in equipping people to do so rather than jumping to polarizing arguments. If we want people not just pastors or denominations but everyday people to discern God’s will when it comes to bigger doctrinal issues such as ordination then we need to equip them to be able to even read scripture first, we need to equip people to be able to deepen their prayer lifes and forbear with one another rather than see one another as on my team or the enemy. I think our current structures and ways of relating don’t encourage or support these kinds of churches. We are too slow to engage our contexts and do a poor job of interpreting our culture and translating the gospel into our everyday lives. In my short 5 years as a pastor I have come to the realization that there is no ideal church or perfect church, except for the invisible one, there is only on earth an imperfect church that exists for the sole reason that Jesus has called it forth. Jesus has chosen for his body to be one that is made up of a bunch of thick headed, stupid, slow to learn, stubborn, silly people, but he stick with us. I am one of these and so is everyone else in my congregation and youth group. Are some clearly unorthodox? Yes, but my call is to stick with them and help them and me become holier, a more faithful representation of Christ’s body in this world. My hope isn’t that we restructure or find new ways of relating to one another so that we can all be friends and forget about the truth. My hope is that in new (not re-structures) and imaginative ways of relating to one another we can become a more faithful and truthful church.

  24. Hi Jake,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response to those questions! I was glad to read your thoughts and think you are right on track with your insights. I share many of those same convictions and hopes.

    I want to let you know a couple of things that are coming soon – a set of surveys is being developed that will try and get some feedback just like you gave from people like yourself, those that have signed up for the event in August and those that are expressing an interest in what might come out of it. The leadership is very keen on hearing from people out there. I realize that might not have seemed the case….perhaps the questions you answered were the first ones posed to you in this process. For that I am sorry – we do want to hear from people who are interested in this, it is a work in progress and will require more input. The event in August, though it will be large, is being designed to facilitate that kind of thinking, too.

    Look me up if you are there in August – coffee on me, and we can continue talking about the most positive possible future for the church.

    Kind regards,

  25. Mike West says:

    The Lord asks us to wait on Him.
    Americans want quick results. I am certainly one of those who likes to “get there early”. Back in the ‘70’s, I installed “cruise control” in my new ’77 Buick. I chose a more expeditious route of installation than that demanded by the instructions. As a result, I could control the speed of my car using the fan controls for the air conditioner.
    If you have purchased an automobile lately, you have more than likely heard the phrase “what will it take for you to purchase this car today?”. Yes, PC-USA has placed demands upon us “to make a purchase” as evidenced by 10-A and more, but we don’t have to purchase today.
    Let us study the instructions of God’s Word and pending events to make sure we have understood His directions.
    Patience will allow an informed decision.

  26. Jim Tweedie says:

    I am a small, rural church pastor of a congregation that will most likely have no interest in leaving the PCUSA. Personally, for many reasons, I support the efforts of the Fellowship to find a new response to the current impasse. My hope is that what will emerge will be to form an independent Reformed Presbyterian body that will share a negotiated continuation with the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Foundation and, perhaps, with some areas of PCUSA mission relationships. Such a plan appears to me to be consistant with the Fellowship’s latest letter. I am hopeful that something of this sort can emerge. How pastors or congregations could opt in or out of this body (should it ever emerge) is, of course unclear.

    The letter from the elder saddened me. Unfortunately elders are members of a local congregation and their denominational/ecclesiastical status is tied to that membership. There is little the Fellowship can do to propose or negotiate with the GA at that level. Yes, the process does seem skewed towards Pastors’ needs but that is the reality of our polity. My thoughts and prayers are with you as well as with the Fellowship. Fortunately the kingdom of God has come/is coming/will come regardless. And that, of course, is the good news we must never lose sight of.

  27. Ken Ribe says:

    Wow, I hardly know what to say. I may regret registering for this conference. I am a recovering fundamentalist. I grew up a denomination that taught us that we had THE TRUTH. If you didn’t belong to our denomination, you weren’t a real Christian. We took scripture literally, and believed that the Bible was without error in the original manuscripts. Truth was very plain and simple.

    I attended a non-Presbyterian seminary (Bethel in St.Paul) where I learned about the Authority of Scriptures, and that Scripture gives us everything we need to know in order to have a right relationship with God, others, ourselves and nature. Since no one has seen an original manuscript–how would we know they were “without error?” I learned to consider the historical context: to whom was this written? Waht was happening in the world, the nation; the church at the time, and why did the writer say the things they said? How do we deal with the contradictions in Scripture? We have to work with the scriptures we have to the best of our abilities, understanding our own biases and how they impact the way we interpret what we read. Hence, I was told by the denomination in which I grew up, that because I didn’t take the Bible literally, I was a liberal, and not welcome.

    I don’t call myself an Evangelical anymore because the term has been co-opted by the Religious Right, and Fundamentalism, and has become very rigid in its understanding and interpretation of Scripture.

    I say all this because the more I read the postings, the more this group sounds like the fundamentalism from which I am still recovering. I don’t claim to have a corner on truth. I don’t believe that truth is so easy to define. I believe Gay Lesbian persons can reach a different segment of our population for Christ than those of us who are straight; in “the Fellowship;” or in the fundamentalist church in which I grew up. I find in most of these postings what I would call “opinions,” not truth–just simply the opinions of people who are broken like me, but who have very strong opinions, and sadly without much grace at all. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but we all need to know that our opinion, is simply that. It is not truth, even though we may say “the truth of the matter is…” It’s still our perspective, and comes from our broken place.

    When I discovered grace as a free gift to the undeserving, I gave up trying to figure out “who was in and who was out.” That’s not up to me but up to God who is the only Just Judge. If it were up to me, I know who I would include and who I would leave out. But, the TRUTH is, It’s not up to me, or any of you. God alone is Lord of the Conscience” and God alone is the “Just Judge.”

    “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1) which leads me to believe that faith is “fuzzy, and difficult to define. We all interpret scripture, and events of life in light of our experience…Faith, it seems to me is about being comfortable with uncertainty. When we try to pin it down and nail it to the door (i.e, the 95 Thesis) we put God in a box. The God I see in Scripture doesn’t fit well in a box, and is full of surprises.

    I know this is rambling, and I’ll probably be branded with some unflattering labels, oh well. That’s where I am, and I’ll be at the conference hoping and praying that this doesn’t turn out to be rigid riling against the PC(USA) which is a denomination certainly with it’s flaws, but I can’t think of one that isn’t. Every church I’m familiar with is filled with people, who are by nature, broken and sinful. May God help us all.

    • Marie Bowen says:

      Ken, Thank you for the honesty of your post. Based on your thoughts expressed about fundamentalists, I suppose you could define me as a non-apologetic fundamentalist. I believe there is absolute truth and I do believe that Scripture is the inspired Word of God given to the people of God as a sure guide for our lives and our faith. There is much I could respond to in your post, but I really only want to make one point here.

      You said, “We all interpret scripture, and events of life in light of our experience…”
      Perhaps that is precisely the problem with us and the reason we do not have unity. I’m sure I do not do this perfectly and my own biases and experiences have influence on how I perceive the words of Scripture, but I certainly try to do the exact opposite of what you have said. Shouldn’t we be interpreting “the events of life” and our “experience” by the light of Scripture. Perhaps then we would be more effective in bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to the world.

    • BZ says:

      Faith, it seems to me is about being comfortable with uncertainty. When we try to pin it down and nail it to the door (i.e, the 95 Thesis) we put God in a box. The God I see in Scripture doesn’t fit well in a box, and is full of surprises.

      Why are you so certain with your uncertainty? It seems to me you might be putting God in a box by emphasizing uncertainty. As I read the Bible it is clear about so many things just from a plain meaning of the text. Yet, I don’t possess the truth, but I can get closer to Christ (the truth) as I understand more of his revealed word. Why would God reveal himself with vague notions of who he is?

  28. Andrie Chen says:

    I really appreciate Fellowship for what it is doing and believe that the approach Fellowship is taking is an appropriate one. We should love sinners not only because the Bible teaches us to do so but also because we are all sinner. However, Apostle Paul also gives us some qualifications for church officials. Can we neglect those?
    I love my church but I also do not want to be identified with a denomination that neglect biblical teaching. I sincerely pray that the Holy Spirit will lead Fellowship in achieving its goal.

  29. Jim Cramer says:

    2 Corinthians 6:14 (NKJV)
    Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

    For this reason, I cannot see how efforts to remain within the P.C.U.S.A. could ever be faithfully fruitful. If not the majority, at least the elite and aggressive leadership of the P.C.U.S.A. has proven their agenda is not ours. Hence, I think the only course before us is to gracefully separate permanently.

    • Rob says:

      Would you argue that people who don’t interpret Scripture the same way you do are “unbelievers”? Are Catholics “unbelievers?” Are anabatists? Or Lutherans? Or just members of PCUSA who believe interpret Scripturally differently than you do regarding orientation-related issues?

      As you use “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers?” from 2 Cor., it’s important to note that Paul (or the author of 2 Cor.) goes on to mention, specifically, belief in “Beliar” as an example of those who are “unbelievers.” Beliar was a variant of Belial, which, in Hebrew, was a name for Satan. Do you posit that those who disagree with you believe in Satan?

      I don’t suspect that this is what you intended. But I would encourage one and all (those on both sides of these issues) to please be careful of how we label those with whom we disagree. John 9 is a good example for all of us.

  30. Steve Kemp says:

    Hello… I’m an elder in a small town in a church with a long history, also the church historian… there is a broad sweep of history behind us that, it seems to me, few people in these days have much exposure to. It would help the process if everyone would reflect on the past while trying to put the present in context. Having said that, I am watching the process and comparing it with the ELCA/ Lutheran CORE/ NALC story over the past few years… again, familiarizing ourselves with that “recent” history might help us understand where we are going and why… a lot of relevance there.

    Not sure how best to respond to a “recovering fundamentalist” (as in previous post). I don’t feel “fuzzy” about faith and I don’t feel broken. Rather, I sense I am healed and through Christ, connected with a truth that is firm and certain. That does not mean that the inspired texts can be counted on to perfectly reveal every detail of salvation, indeed no words of human transcription can do that. We are informed that we “see through a glass, darkly,” but we do not dwell on darkness when, led by the Spirit, we know who we are and are confident about we are going. Does that make any sense?

    I know quite a few fundamentalists and for me, they are first and foremost well meaning, but at the same time quite baffled by today’s world, folks who can’t see the forest (Christianity) for the trees (Scripture verses taken in isolation). “Orthodox faith” assures us, though, that it is within the Spirit’s power to lead us into all the truth that we, as redeemed men and women, have a need to comprehend. That said, from the very first decades, from the first council in Jerusalem, Christian leaders have understood how they needed some guidelines to be delineated, the alternative being to throw up our hands and say… as was said so long ago… let us all sin and never pay heed, so that grace may abound all the more. Isn’t that an attitude (cheap grace, as Bonhoeffer rightly called it) which we, as leaders, have a duty to take a stand against? At any rate, that’s how I’m seeing things at the moment.

  31. Al Sandalow says:

    I, for one, an glad to see that the groundwork for a new denomination is being prepared. Frankly, it is the last thing I want to see happen, but sometimes you need the last thing when all other things fail.

    I hope we don’t need this option, but I think we need to have it ready to go if other options fail.

  32. Stephen says:

    Now the Fellowship is getting it from the right and the left. Maybe that’s good. I say that as one who’s convinced the long-term vitality of the congregation where I serve depends on our eventual disaffiliation from the PC(USA). But let’s be alert to the new thing that God may be doing through all of this. Keep praying!

  33. Jane Morrison says:

    About leaving the PCUSA, I already left the UCC partly because of its enthusiasm for all aspects of homosexuality. I knew that the PCUSA might some day come to accept homosexual practice. Now that it has, I keep in mind this pasage from I Peter 2: “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.” In the long, long run, if those of us of different persuasions about the topic conduct ourselves honorably among the Gentiles, and if we are wrong about whether God really regards homosexual practice as a normal way of life, God’s will will be done. Will the old way prevail and the new fade away, or will the new be seen to be God’s will in spite of what we think now? For the time being, with the new ruling in the PCUSA, the main thing is to conduct ourselves honorably among the Gentiles and leave the rest to the Holy Spirit.

  34. Reid Stewart says:

    I was somewhat encouraged when I read that there were still cordial relations between the stated clerk and the fellowship. I, for one, don’t understand how a new denomination can be formed, while at the same time continue to share the board of pensions for church, presbytery, synod, etc. staff. I’m not saying it coudn’t be done, but I’d really be interested in hearing it explained. If this works out, perhaps those churches that are now thinking of leaving the PC(USA) could opt in the direction the fellowship is considering, without the rancor that seems so common surrounding church property.

    To the pastor that’s a “recovering fundamentalist”, I understand how he feels. But if God is unchanging as the Scripture says he is, the Scripture proscribing homosexuality, which appears in both old and new testaments, would indicate that there are standards that do not change. Yes, we are all broken and sinful, but if a Presbyterian is gay or lesbian, they do not have to be ordained to reach others of their persuasion for the Gospel.

    • Rob says:

      While I would agree that God doesn’t change, as Reformed Christians we believe that we do (or at least we should) change (in pursuit of growing closer to our God, and to whom God is calling us to be). This, for me, means that my understanding and interpretation of Scripture can and, in fact, should at times change.

  35. Jenny Gottschalk says:

    As Presbyterian layperson who dearly loves her local church, but is deeply disappointed in the decline of our denomination, I am grateful for this group of leaders trying to find a path forward that is faithful to Biblical standards and reformed theology. You are daily in my prayers.

    One small suggestion for future communication, though, would be to include some explanatory context when referencing things like “10-A” and “nFOG”, (and other buzzwords) in plain English for those of us who spend more time dealing with jobs and kids than church polity. For example, I’m guessing that 90% of the laypeople in my church would be unfamiliar with the amendment number (10-A) that changed our ordination standards, but that those 90% would know that the standards had, indeed, changed. That little bit of context greatly enhances understanding.

  36. Lola K says:

    As we are again urged to be open to a new interpretation of scriptural values and ideas, I would like to point out that “new” interpretations are always such that they lower God’s standards. We may choose to vote on God’s commandments, for instance, and then report that the majority now believes such and such; God was misunderstood, or wrong. In explanation, we invoke the “Parable of the Nice Guy”; you may be familiar with this as one of the “Lost Parables” not yet found in caves near the Dead Sea. The Parable of the Nice Guy makes it clear that anyone at least 86% “nice”, cannot be a sinner. He receives a “passing grade”; I’m not sure that he any longer needs the saving Grace of Jesus, but it is certain that the actions in which he does indulge and which once were called “sin” must be accepted by Christians, lest we embarrass ourselves by being out of step with the modern world. (Or worse, be called “Fundamentalists” or “Bible Believing Christians.”)

  37. Melissa Broaddus says:

    During a period of uncertainty and watching our own Temporary Supply Pastor embrace the changes made to the Book of Order, I felt the only option available to remain Biblically sound and follow scripture would be to take leave from our local church. My family was completely submersed in serving Christ there and it was heartbreaking. We feel we have lost our family in following Christ. My teenaged children are the future of the PCUSA, and they are disappointed that they cannot continue there. To remain true to the Word of God, we must call “sin” what it is. We don’t say this in a spirit of self-righteousness, He alone is our righteousness. We only pray that God will intercede on our behalf. The Fellowship is a glimmer of hope to those of us who feel that God does not want us to compromise. We have not withdrawn our membership, or our positions as Elder, Deacon, and Committee Members, in the hope that we may lift holy hands together in the name of Jesus.

  38. Jim Caraher says:

    I’ve been following this Fellowship initiative with great interest and I’m encouraged that there may be some potential here for reversing the long-term decline, particularly in that sector of the denomination represented by the Fellowship churches. However I’m alarmed that the discusssion so far seems devoid of any shared conviction that the Fellowship churches must stand in solidarity with like-minded churches that feel led of God to leave rather than participate in whatever new realignment may emerge. Remaining in some kind of nominal, attenuated relationship with the PCUSA may be an honorable, God-ordained choice for many of the Fellowship churches. However such an approach cannot be honorable or God-ordained if the PCUSA is going to seize the property of churches which choose to leave rather than participate in a new alignment.

  39. Juanita L Hargrove says:

    It truly is a sad day when we, the church, have come to the delimna of not being able to follow God’s Holy Word, the Scriptures in our own main line denomination, even the presbytery, though can in our present home church! I say this though with JOY, with a capital J for Jesus, because I believe God is going to do some exciting things.
    Having been born into the Presbyterian Church of Baton Rouge, La. in 1940, and raised there, from my mother’s lap to shoulder, to adulthood, marriage, and children for myself, and having remained in the denomination even with other changes over these 71 years, I have to say that as little children, “Jesus” is ALWAYS the answer to all questions we ever had to answer! Looking out at all the children of the PCUSA and being renewal minded, since 1976, am thankful for PFR and any other fellowship that can help us overcome any diversity! Since I did and do, indeed, come as a little child, with childlike faith, and do not even understand some of the big words of this 10-A I keep thinking 10K, and hope there are some in attendance or serving that speak to the lay mind on this serious situation. PLEASE KEEP US LITTLE PEOPLE IN YOUR PLANS AND THOUGHTS, WHEN SERVING! The denomination is in need of us, too!
    Not all Presbyterians are scholars or have the education that may seem the path to lead, or even follow! I do and have been praying for God’s will and way, with help and enlightenment for those in authority. Thus said, God Bless All who are for and not agin…that which is God’s great plans to let the church be the church and the people be the people. A children’s song we always loved, taught and shared was about here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the door and here’s all the people…to which I declare…let them come…and hear the true Word of God, and it shall be done. No matter our backgrounds, differences and sins…all are sinners and deserve God’s Word proclaimed to His Glory, whether PCUSA or a fellowship nearby the circle, or a departed, not left group of saddened,unhappy people! I may not know theology as well as some, yet I love God, His Son, Jesus, and His Holy Spirit, the Trilogy, and am grateful for the church that prayed, raised, and taught me what I do know! And…as most everyone else…we serve a Risen Savior, Who’s in the world today, and though I may not show it, He helps me by walking, talking, guiding me on life’s way,… to be the church, united. A Lover of Souls, and all the rest we know Him by name, cannot rest until we, His children come to grips with this present, hard, tear-causing, confusing, canker sore we know as unBiblical hogwash! Or truth as the case may be. THANKS FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE A PIECE OF MY MIND AND HEART. GOD BLESS US, ONE AND ALL! AND…nFoG sure sounds good to me: in a fog describes us.

  40. Wlliam Cashdollar says:

    Marie got it right…too often (myself included) we interpret scripture by our experiences rather than interpreting our experiences by scripture. The former serves the “kingdom of me” as we judge scripture based on our own experiences; with the latter, God makes OUR paths straight when we use use HIS word to guide our steps….sort of a GPS…God’s Postioning System for our lives.

  41. Frank Kinkead says:

    Many faithful followers of Christ are waiting and watching what will happen at the Fellowship gathering to come. Make no mistake, these people are followers of the Christ and not PCUSA. PCUSA is not The Church. Unity with PCUSA is not required by the Holy Spirit any more than Martin Luther was bound to an apostate Catholic church which sought to make all members conform to its apostacy. Today the Holy Spirit is crying for Reformation. The need is for reformation and not appeasement. If the leaders of PCUSA represent a minority of its members then they must be deposed and new members ,who are faithful to the truth taught in the Scriptures, must be chosen to take their place. If this is not possible, a break as clean and irrivocable as was Luther’s must and will happen. The votes are already in. They have been coming in for years. The members have been voting with their feet. They are leaving the church in droves. Isn’t it time we woke up! How much clearer does the Holy Spirit have to make itself for the leaders of this denomination to get the picture? Unity with Apostacy is like asking for unity with the Devil.
    Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” Sadly the time to abolish our connection to PCUSA has finally come. Let us act under the guidance of the Holy Sprit with humility and love for all but let us act!

    Frank Kinkead, Member Grand Lakes Presbyterian Church, Katy, TX

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