"It changes nothing"...was the cry from the progressives in the PCUSA after the Peace Unity & Purity (PUP) Report was received and Authoritative Interpretation G-6.0108 was approved at the 217th General Assembly in 2006. This AI effectively granted local option for ordination standards. It concerned our local congregation so much that we purchased this three-quarter-page ad in the local newspaper along with seven other concerned congregations on Saturday June 24, 2006. I am tempted at this point to call them "seven golden candlesticks" (Rev 1:20) as I did in a previous blog entry for seven unrelated churches in Western, Pa. The question remains, was our concern warranted? Did we have the right and the obligation to our membership and to the world to proclaim that the direction the denomination was taking was a wrong and dangerous direction? The answer, in my opinion, is a resounding, absolutely!
One local unnamed PCUSA blogging pastor wrote at that time, "The implication (of the ad) is that the PC (USA) is now akin to a mere collection of individuals who have sanction to do what is right in their own eyes. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, the GA's actions further bound members of the PC (USA) to one another and to a set of standards for ordination. More loosely, the assembly's actions asserted the binding character of the "essentials" of Reformed faith and polity upon those who would be ordained as officers. " Well, it seems that the true intentions of the 217th General Assembly have been clarified for the world to see in the 218th General Assembly. There is now no ambiguity. There has been no positive "Kairos Moment" in the PCUSA this year.
Here are the two decisions by the Church Orders and Ministry Committee:
Removal of Standard
The first link affirms that the 217th GA PUP report did effectively give local option to each individual congregation, and the second link attempts to remove the fidelity ordination standard completely. Both actions need to be voted on by the full GA. This vote should occur on or prior to this coming Saturday. The second decision to remove the ordination standards altogether will additionally require a majority of our 173 presbyteries for approval. The second, in my opinion, would be a moot point when the first passes in that the first allows the ordination standards to be scrupled or ignored anyway.
Two of my wife’s Presbyterian relatives just rolled over in their graves: (Cousin)Rev John Witherspoon, signer of Declaration of Independence and GGGGGGGGGGGrandpa Rev John Knox.