Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Tuesday Night PUP bloggery

As you have probably already read elsewhere, the PUP report passed, as amended by the Ecclesiology Committee, with all its recommendations intact -- including controversial recommendation #5. The vote was 298 for, 221 against. Not exactly a show of unity, but in the PCUSA the majority rules.

PUP Reactions from Presbybloggers so far today:

Michael Kruse believes that what once were constitutional mandates are now optional if a presbytery or session believes they are not an "essential tenet" of the Reformed Faith--and notes that the PCUSA has never defined essential tenets. Tracey Johnson agrees with him, saying it throws us into a "chaos of disunity" and adds that the report should be called the "Pieces, Unitarian and Plurality" report.

Andy Moye gives a detailed account of the debate, which he attended, and concludes that there are just too many "if's" to worry about. He sounds really tired and I would be, too. Will Spotts thinks the action is a fluke.

Denis Hancock doesn't think it will be "the tectonic shift that some think", and believes the amendment in committee helped clarify that. But he also says it remains to be seen how recommendation #5 will be applied in practice. This morning Beau Weston had a post predicting the passage of PUP and analyzing what he saw as the missteps of those opposing it. He gets the Prophetic Voice award for today.

As for me, I really regret the acceptance of recommendation #5. Even though the committee amended it in an attempt to assure opponents that it was not an invitation to "local option" on the ordination of gays in violation of 6.106b, I think that those who saw the original recommendation as local option will not be dissuaded by the new language. Then we will see whether the constitution will be enforced. Don't bet on it. In recent years, churches, presbyteries and synods have found ways to interpret the plain language of the BOO to suit their own purposes. For example, in the past year the Presbytery of Redwoods ruled that a minister who presided over same-sex weddings did not violate the Reformed understanding of marriage. So what's to stop them from ordaining non-celibate homosexual candidates saying that they have a "scruple" against the fidelity and chastity standards of the BOO?

In short, I think this compromise will not work because the denomination does not have the will to define its essential tenents and enforce them. Mission Presbytery is having trouble insisting on the fundamental premise that membership requires a profession of faith in God. That's even more foundational to faith than ordination standards, for heaven's sake!

Well, it's almost time to go back to the evening's plenary session. On a lighter note, you can join me and my blogging buddy Reverendmother for a little drinking game during tonight's Presbyfest. Take a swig every time you hear one of the following:

A new way to be the church
We need to trust each other
XYZ will leave the church if...
A folksy anecdote from a commissioner
A commissioner asks for clarification of what they're voting on
commissioners, you have been advised
prophetic voices
Biblical standards
How diverse the Task Force was
A YAD with a Valley Girl accent

Reverendmother and I recommend margaritas. But if you're like my husband, El Jefe (whose dire prediction was that if PUP rec.#5 passed, the commissioners should just pass around the hemlock)--I recommend taking your hemlock frozen, with lime and salt. And have a piece of Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake for the Apocalypse to go with it. Pass your plate!


reverendmother said...

So as to prove myself not just a Party Girl, I have posted a long, potentially boring (to everyone but me) paper I wrote in seminary about other major splits and splinters in the church. Take heart, El Jefe. We've been down similar roads and managed to survive, somehow.

Denis Hancock said...

With regard to your drinking game -- aren't you making it a little too easy?

I appreciate reading your daily roundups. We may not agree 100%, but no one can accuse you (or most of the bloggers dealing with GA) of being anything less than informed and thoughtful in their assessments.

Quotidian Grace said...


It's all about disagreeing without being disagreeable, isn't it? I believe that we all love our church and want it to be a faithful witness to the world of the love of God and the salvation offered through Christ.

Jon said...

Regarding your drinking game -- I'm looking at quite a hangover if I play. :)

Regarding PUP, the PCUSA as an institution will continue for quite a long time. On the other hand, the PCUSA as a church is continuing her steady march to conform herself to this world. The PCUSA is basically following the Episcopal Church USA, it is just 10-15 years behind.

Apostle John said...

I hope Dennis is right -- that this won't be the tectonic shfit that many expect it will be.

What bugs me is to watch the "politicing" going on in the back rooms here at GA -- the ultra conservatives who are salivating over the prospect of leaving.

Presbyterian Pastor said...

Great post. I think the press conference after the GA was great.

Maynard Pittendreigh

Rev Dave said...

Long comment, but here goes:

QG, either you or El Jefe need to put your names in nomination for the PJC of your presbytery. Don't sit back and watch it happen, put yourself in a position where your lawerly minds can go to work where it really matters.

Here's my take on the PUP report:

While I don't like the PUP report, I'm not 100% convinced that its passage is a sign of the apocalpyse. Not yet, at least. We're going to need to see how this plays out on the ground and in the PJC's at the presbytery, synod, and GA level.

While I see reports using the word 'scruple' in the press, nowhere, and I mean nowhere in the
recommendations adopted does that word appear. in the report, yes, but not in the actual interpretations adopted yesterday. There is no language or process in the adopted report that outlines such a scrupling procedure, nor does it appear anywhere in the BOO or BOC. The PJC's will, in the end (I hope) be bound by the letter of the law.

And #5 was changed to make sure that the entire process from examination to ordination/installation is
still subject to higher review. Underlined below is the change.

Recommendation 5 d. now reads: Whether the examination _and ordination and installation decision_ comply with the constitution of the PCUSA, and whether the ordaining/installing body has conducted its examination reasonably, responsibly, prayerfully, and deliberately in deciding to ordain a candidate for
church office is subject to review by higher governing

As it read before this amendment, only the process was of examination was open to review; hence the cries of
'local option.' But this change makes sure that all
is subject to review and appeal.

So did the passage of this report change anything? It remains to be seen. But in black letter law, I don't think it accomplished anything but let this assembly
avoid sending yet another repeal B amendment back to the presbyteries.

It's only a temporary truce. As this interpretation winds its way through the judicial process, it will be found to be without fangs. That makes the 2008
assembly even more important than this one in terms of
direct conflict over ordination standards. This
year's assembly was a draw. The real battles are yet
to come (and don't get me started on that awful
Trinity report).

Quotidian Grace said...

Rev Dave,

Both El Jefe and I have served on the PJC of our presbytery and on administrative commissions. Our presbytery is not a problem--we adhere to the BOO standards. Now if we could just get on the national PJC, then we'd have a chance to influence something!

Or maybe I just start my campaign now for Mom of the PCUSA. The Trinity Report was utter foolishness, to say the least.

Rev Dave said...

Good for both of you! Try for Synod first.

ChaplainMom said...

Being a member of Mission Presbytery, I have to say that I was for COM going in and having a conversation with that session, but also felt, after reading another statement of faith by the man in question (who claimed publicly and in writing he was an athiest) that I was hasty not to trust that session to hear something of faith in him. His statements after he joined were stupid and said for shock value. I firmly believe he has held onto his identity as an athiest far longer than was in accordance with the matters of his heart and mind. That said, being a part of that community of faith has brought him into a place of belief that is real and powerful. Is it where I want him to be? No. Is it a witness to the power of a community of faith to live the gospel so that others will come to believe? Yes.

We did vote to have COM talk to the session, and to basically remove the man from the membership roles until he can be "re-examined." I just left the meeting feeling like we did our polity well but we somehow forgot to trust the Holy Spirit's work in the heart and mind of this man.

Veronica Mitchell said...

El Jefe sounds like a hoot. Hemlock. (snort)

will spotts said...

I'm concerned that knowing how this vote would be taken made it a bad decision. I appreciated the language change as it does preclude any more local option than we already have . . . (non-enforcement is the norm in most places). Even before, it wouldn't have changed much.

However, many, many Presbyterians saw the actual local option in the original proposal -- and I've read numerous media sources who are now reporting it that way.

THIS IS NOT THE FAULT OF BAD REPORTING (though that is certainly occurring) - It was 100% predictable and should have been a consideration of the GA in voting for this measure.

This also requires far more trust than we currently seem to have.