Dear Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) colleagues,
The Carlisle Initiative
The Coordinating Council of the Presbytery of Carlisle requests that Presbyterian leaders across the nation join us in a movement to renew our beloved Church. We are prepared to express our request for renewal as an Overture to the 2016 General Assembly in Portland. But, first, we seek involvement and support from all across the Church. This Initiative is offered out of the deepest commitment to and love for our Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) which in our Pennsylvania has a direct, institutional heritage of more than 300 years. We are convinced that the recent culture wars which have wracked our beloved Church with division are over. We believe great days, in God’s providence, are ahead of us as Presbyterians, certainly smaller, free from the demands of political power and cultural expectations, connected with a vibrant, global Christianity and poised to become a nimble and deeply authentic denomination in service to our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is work to do! We have defined three broad areas which, we believe, need attention: our theological foundations, our General Assembly structure and the stewardship of our financial resources:
1. Considering the theological convictions of our Church today, we seek:
A. To create a process for the writing of a new, comprehensive Confession of Faith to be added to our Book of Confessions. This Confession should seek to express our belief for our modern 21st century context.
B. To articulate our understanding of the historical concept of “central tenets.” There are vital, theological reasons why we will not articulate a “list” of our “central tenets.” We seek to articulate the ways Presbyterians today, especially our ordained officers, should understand this history and theology
C. To explore the ways an understanding of Christian doctrine and systematic theology has changed in our digital age. We seek to understand the ways that teaching and learning the Christian faith have shifted.
2. Considering the organization of our Church today, we seek:
A. To develop and express a plan for the full, institutional merger of the Office of the General Assembly and the General Assembly Mission Agency.
B. To develop and propose specific ways that the mid-councils of the Church – presbyteries, synods and the General Assembly - can improve in their mutuality, collegiality, coordination and communication.
C. To develop and propose specific ways the agencies of the General Assembly can improve in their mutuality, collegiality, coordination and communication.
D. To develop and articulate a plan by which one common vision and direction for the whole denomination is defined. Develop a means by which such a plan is communicated widely, understood and agreed to throughout our Church.
3. Considering the funding system of the Church, we seek:
A. To develop a plan for the implementation of a single stream funding system given the potential merger of the Office of the General Assembly and Mission Agency.
B. To study the historical development of the Church’s current funding system with specific attention to the history and development of the Per Capita system and the Shared Mission giving system.
C. To evaluate the Mission Agency’s recent efforts in creative fundraising. To define specific ways this effort may benefit the whole Church.
D. To study and develop a plan by which current practices of fund raising and funds development in the non-profit sector may be adopted for use by our Church.
What can you do?
· Join us! How many Presbyterians does it take to create a movement? Consider ways that we may actually accomplish these huge transformations and not simply discuss them. Is the Overture process the correct way to proceed?
· Evaluate and reflect on the goals expressed here and write your responses and reflections back to us.
· Share this paper and your responses with other Presbyterians leaders.
· Rejoice in all that God has done with and through our Presbyterian Church, and pray that God will prepare us and move us forward into a new day.
Grace and Peace!