Letter to the Congregation

Here is what I wrote to the congregation in an e-mail this morning... Dear friends,

News of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has hit the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and many other news outlets. Let me tell you what I know and offer a word as your pastor.

Yesterday the Presbytery of Twin Cities Area became the 87th presbytery in our denomination to approve "amendment A," which means that this amendment will become part of our Book of Order (church constitution) this summer. Amendment A removes language that prevents gay and lesbian persons in committed relationships from being ordained or installed as deacons, elders or ministers. In other words, GLBT persons can now be ordained in jurisdictions that elect to do so. Here is the new language:

Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G.14.0240; G-14.0450) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”

What does this mean in practical terms? I recommend the following article that describes what is different, and what is the same, under this new language:

http://www.pcusa.org/media/uploads/oga/pdf/10a/10a-faq.pdf

And here is a video message from our moderator, Elder Cindy Bolbach:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbZcQa7fME8

I know that reactions across the Presbyterian Church (USA) are mixed today. For some people, this decision comes with grief and concern, even pain, that we seem to have abandoned scriptural authority in favor of cultural "relevance." Others are celebrating the arrival of justice for those whom God has called to ministry, regardless of sexual orientation. For the former, the adoption of amendment A seems unthinkable. For the latter, it is a no-brainer that has been a long time in coming. I suspect we have both views represented at Idylwood Presbyterian Church.

One of the stated values of IPC is its diversity and inclusiveness. It is something you all lifted up in your Church Information Form when you were seeking a pastor, and it is a value that I hear you all talk about frequently. Here is our chance walk the talk, as we seek to be faithful toward those who differ from us.

I am available and happy to talk with any of you further about this shift, how I interpret it, and what it all means--and I'd like to hear your thoughts as well.

Peace,

MaryAnn