Thursday, July 19, 2012

General Assembly (2012) #19

Differing Convictions

This may be one of the most important statements coming from our General Assembly. I fully agree with this commitment:
The 220th General Assembly approved this statement by a vote of 405 YES to 230 NO. This action came as Overture 07-17, “On Honoring Christ in Our Relationship with One Another” from the Presbytery of Sacramento.


• Jesus taught that our highest ethical obligation is to ‘… love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself’ (Luke 10:27); and this is how ‘everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’ (John 13:35);

• having experienced Christ’s gracious love for us while we are yet sinners, we are called to ‘welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God’ (Romans 15:7);

• we affirm the solemn commitments expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination, installation, and commissioning, including that we intend to fulfill our ministries ‘in obedience to Jesus Christ, under the authority of Scripture, and … continually guided by our confessions’; that that we will be friends among our colleagues in ministry; that we ‘seek to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, love [our] neighbors, and work for the reconciliation of the world’ (Book of Order, W-4.4003);

• ‘… we hold that interpretation of the Scripture to be orthodox and genuine which is gleaned from the Scriptures themselves (from the nature of the language in which they were written, likewise according to the circumstances in which they were set down, and expounded in the light of like and unlike passages and of many and clearer passages) and which agree with the rule of faith and love, and contributes much to the glory of God and man’s salvation’ (The Book of Confessions, Second Helvetic Confession, 5.010);
 • the larger Catechism lifts up the duty of holding ‘… a charitable esteem of our neighbors,’ and forbids the sin of ‘… misconstruing intentions, words, and actions’ (The Book of Confessions, 7.254–255).
 The 220th General Assembly (2012) acknowledges that faithful Presbyterians earnestly seeking to follow Jesus Christ hold different views about what the Scriptures teach concerning the morality of committed, same-gender relationships. Therefore, while holding persons in ordered ministry to high standards of covenant fidelity in the exercise of their sexuality, as in all aspects of life, we acknowledge that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) does not have one interpretation of Scripture in this matter. We commit ourselves to continue respectful dialogue with those who hold differing convictions, to welcome one another for God’s glory, and not to vilify those whose convictions we believe to be in error. We call on all Presbyterians to join us in this commitment.

Shared Mission Giving: What's happening?

Our Coordinating Council has begun a comprehensive planning process in order to look forward in our common mission and ministry. This process will include a brief, electronic survey about our presbytery’s ministry which will soon be delivered by email. In addition, this process will include our budget planning process as we seek to financially plan for several years forward. A key issue in our financial planning process is our understanding of what is happening in Shared Mission Giving in our congregations. Please consider this giving pattern within our Presbytery:

Shared Mission Giving             Total Dollars       Total Congregations participating

2008                                            $509,480           36

2009                                            $451,022           32

2010                                            $421,898           20

2011                                            $402,528           25

Through June 30, 2012               $146,997           29

Specifically, please consider these questions as part of a discussion with your session:

• Are you participating in Shared Mission Giving?

• Is this an important part of the ministry of your congregation?

• In what ways do you discuss and interpret the work of Shared Mission Giving with your whole congregation?

• What is the future trend for your support of Shared Mission Giving within your congregation?

• Would you consider increasing your support of Shared Mission Giving?

• Has your congregation recently transitioned from Shared Mission Giving contributions to a more Designated Mission Giving model?

I will appreciate your comments around this discussion. Please call, write or email. I encourage you to participate in Shared Mission Giving as one piece of your larger mission giving. If you seek to transition to a fully designated model of mission giving, I will be glad to suggest places, including our presbytery itself, where you can direct your designated giving.