I will want to tell the story of a Church which cares about the values by which Scotland lives, which cares about the conditions in which people live and which puts its money where its faith is, in the work it does amongst the most vulnerable and marginalised.Personally, he has been touched by, and involved with, those with special needs including a sister with Down's Syndrome and a son injured in combat in Afghanistan while serving with the Royal Marines. He has supported the work of organizations that work with those with special needs throughout his career and hopes to bring attention to such organizations during his moderatorial year.
It is an unexpected privilege and a real honour to be entrusted with this role at this time. If the Assembly supports my nomination, I will seek above all else to hold the people of the Church of Scotland together in peace and unity.”In the press release he continues on also saying
My focus will be on those things that unite us. Within the Church we have to learn to live with our differences. We have an urgent need to recruit women and men to train to be ministers and it’s time to let society know that there is something very meaningful about living the life of faith.”
Representative carries bill to help church he leads: Reps say congregations have concerns about bill to disallow ecclesiastical law in disputes - from Topeka Capital-JournalThe bill would introduce a form of neutral principles to Kansas law for deciding church property cases. There are numerous comments from presbytery and synod leaders about the nature of the bill and the implications as well as the representative's motives. The comments that his church was considering requesting dismissal from the PC(USA) lead to another article the next day where his pastor denied it:
Pastor of state rep's church: We're not splitting: Pastor of Rep. McPherson's congregation disputes church leaders' characterization of bill - from Topeka Capital-Journal
Mass prayers to keep Mizoram prohibition - from The Times of India
Change of name after marriage not obligatory - from Ghana News Agency
New project will look at plantation and penal laws - from Derry Journal; "A new cross-community project will examine the impact of the penal laws and the plantation on Catholics and Presbyterians in Derry. The project is being funded by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and will involve the congregation of First Derry Presbyterian Church and senior citizens from the Bogside area. When completed, the work will form part of a new website looking at the period."
Moderator Ova congratulates Ambu community - from Solomon Star
Fire guts Charlieville Presbyterian School - from Guardian Media; about a school in Trinidad
Weekend fire damages children’s home: Water from sprinklers causes more problems than flames - from Daily Journal; about a Presbyterian Children's Homes facility in Farmington, Missouri
Baseball star Rivera rescues, renovates NY church - AP story, here published by ESPN
Library begins new chapter - from Lewisboro Ledger
Pastor wins medal from Ethiopian government - from The Korea Times; "Pastor Kim Sam-hwan of the Myungsung Presbyterian Church was conferred a medal of appreciation by the Ethiopian government for his contributions to the development of Ethiopian medical services."
KAZAKHSTAN: Criminal conviction, large "moral damages" - and new criminal case? - from Forum 18 News Service
South Korean church mourns after Egypt bombing - from Salon
Church of Scotland calls for integrity and community to be at the heart of the debate about Scotland’s future - press release from the Church of Scotland
People not basing referendum vote on financial gain or loss, says Kirk - from stv news
Kirk says community, not money, must be at heart of independence debate - from Christian Today
Concerns raised over named person for Scots children plan - from BBC News
Scottish ministers threatened with legal action over 'state guardian' plans - from The Telegraph (note that the headline uses the title minister in the political and not clerical sense)
Law casts a shadow over family - commentary from Scottish Catholic Observer
Corruption blamed on actions and inactions of Ghanaians - from Ghana News/SpyGhana
Public office holders urged to show integrity and maturity - from my Ghana Online
Sudan Arrests, Threatens Pastor During Sermon as Authorities Try to Intimidate Preacher Into Resigning - from The Christian Post; It is alleged that government officials were intimidating this pastor who is currently serving as the Moderator of the Synod of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church to get control of the property.
Mampong Presby SHS cries for help - from Ghana News Agency: "The Mampong Presbyterian Senior High School(PRESEC) has made a passionate appeal to all stakeholders in education, particularly the Ghana Education Trust Fund(GETFund), to come to the aid of the school."
Spread Privilege Not Cashgate: Livingstonia Synod says Malawi for us all - from Nyasa Times; "The CCAP Livingstonia Synod has observed that Malawi is sliding into terminal decline and urged government to spread the privilege to all and not a few should enjoy."
Mizo Church wants prohibition to continue - from matters india
Sunday football: Clergyman plans protest at stadium - from Belfast News Letter
Play on! Public back Sunday football at Windsor Park - from Belfast News Letter
Dr. Greg Jordan, King University president resigns: Two-thirds of faculty gave vote of no confidence earlier in the week - from TriCities.com
Ralph Waite, Depression-Era Patriarch in ‘The Waltons,’ Dies at 85 - the NY Times Obituary
Why an 18th Century English Presbyterian Minister Matters to College Football Fans - from Football Study Hall; hint - the minister was Thomas Bayes
“This has been a very painful decision but deep down I feel it is the right one. I am undergoing medical treatment and anticipate an operation ahead. The demanding role of Moderator requires someone to be operating on all cylinders. I do not have the necessary reserves just now.
“It is with huge regret and reluctance that I make this decision. My heartfelt prayers will be with all those on whom unexpected burdens now fall. May God's guidance, strength and peace be given to each one.”
"This is the toughest possible outcome in many people's minds," Senior Pastor Jim Birchfield said. "To fall a few votes short will be very tough for them. I'm a little bit disappointed. I came out very strongly and passionately in favor of (the move)."
Birchfield said it was too early to assess the long-term repercussions of the attempt to switch denominations, and he declined to predict whether some members will leave the church as a result. He said his immediate task is to begin smoothing over the differences for the sake of keeping the 3,100 member church intact. "We have to begin reconciling the two sides, and that will begin immediately," he said. "We'll also begin reconciling among the leadership. For the most part, we have had a very gracious debate."
For more than an hour on Sunday, church members provided testimony for and against leaving PCUSA, some of it tearful.and
Those in favor of leaving PCUSA spoke of the national organization’s “theological drift” and called for a more “Christ-centered theology.”
Opponents of the switch argued for theological diversity. PCUSA does not require churches to ordain openly gay pastors if they choose not to. They bemoaned what they saw as inevitable fallout from the decision, and said that appealing to stricter evangelist views would only further isolate young members from the church.For a more nuanced look at the meeting I would refer you to the article from the Presbyterian Outlook which has a bit more on the process and procedure.
In particularly fiery testimony, one opposing member said she feared the switch would make her “a member of a congregation that distinguishes itself by its homophobia.”
First Presbyterian of Houston was an obvious target for the fledgling denomination. The Houston church has roughly 3,100 members, owns property valued at more than $100 million and boasts an $18 million endowment. The church is 175 years old.Now consider the material that was provided by the church from a link that was on it's Season of Decision web page. The link has now been removed but as of this writing the document with the details of the terms for possible departure is still available. (But could disappear soon.) Besides the rationale for the departure the document has some legal notes, the report of the presbytery team and the details of payments the church would have had to make to the presbytery. I have not figured out which of the two listed options would be used but the larger of the two would have been payments to the presbytery on a five year declining scale totaling $343,236. The rationale for the amount is not given and based upon negotiations in my own presbytery I would not expect it to be so. But for a $100 million property and $18 million endowment it seems like a pretty good deal. This will become more apparent in a minute.
There are two additional payments that might be made to Presbytery. The amounts are not known at this time. If the required majority votes to be dismissed and more than 10% of our congregation vote to remain in PCUSA, and a petition to start a new church is signed by more than 25 members, and Presbytery approves the new church start, we will owe a payment to start a new church. In addition we will likely be required to make a voluntary gift to the Presbytery's New Church Development Fund.It is interesting to wonder about the what-ifs had those extra 36 members been there and the vote had gone the other way, but just barely, what the magnitude of these payments would have been. (And I had to smile at the language about being "required to make a voluntary gift..." Probably a required gift of a voluntary amount.)
When a congregation seeks dismissal under G-11.0103i (now G-3.0301a), it is the responsibility of the presbytery to fulfill its fiduciary duty under the Trust Clause. This fiduciary duty requires that the presbytery exercise due diligence regarding the value of the property of the congregation seeking dismissal. Due diligence, of necessity, includes not only an evaluation of the spiritual needs of the congregation and its circumstances but also financial analysis of the value of the property at stake. Payments for per capita or mission obligations are not satisfactory substitutes for the separate evaluation of the value of the property held in trust.According to the information on the church web site the payment to the presbytery will be $8.89 million if the congregation votes to accept the terms and request dismissal. Yes, it is 1.5 orders of magnitude larger than the terms that FPC Houston got. In addition, for FPC Houston the quorum requirement was 30% of the membership, it is 50% for Menlo Park. And the required supermajority is 3/4 for Menlo Park while it was the 2/3 for FPC Houston. The differences due to presbytery policy are striking for two churches of very similar size (3,567 members for FPC Houston and 3,382 members for Menlo Park according to the 2012 list). As my title says - The Diversity of Dismissals.
Where did this figure come from, and why is it so high? Sorry for the complexity around this, but we want to be as transparent as we can. From the perspective of our church, part of what is suboptimal in our current denominational system is that there are no clear objective guidelines to arrive at a financial figure in a process like this one.But regarding this financial number, in looking at a lot of the material on their web site I have not seen a breakdown of where this number actually comes from, if there is per capita, mission, property and new church development built into it.
We could say, "We'll go to court." However, we think public litigation would be a bad witness for the church. It's not good for the bride of Jesus. It's not what God is calling us to do, and nobody wanted to do that.
As you all know, we have a vision. We believe we have a mission. We want to reach thousands of people for Jesus Christ around this Bay Area that needs him so much. We want to launch new sites to help us do that.And this is a sentiment that is echoed in the comments by RE Perez where he talks about the issues they have had with the presbytery. Instead of emphasizing what may be a mismatch in the visions of the two governing bodies it sounds to my listening that he is leaning to a more congregational form of government and he wants to get the presbytery out of the way so the church can have more autonomy and flexibility.
We believe we simply cannot do that effectively if we remain in the denomination.
MPPC Communications Director Nicole Laubscher said ECO's 110 churches are organized into nine presbyteries by both geography and similarity, such as size, as opposed to geography alone as done by the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The article also does a good job of exploring the downside to the dismissal agreement.
"For us it's about the pace of change," she said. ECO offers more flexibility, whereas PCUSA is designed for small churches in a single location. "It creates tremendous barriers."
When MPPC first sought to expand outside Menlo Park, she said, "It was really hard. At the time, we didn't know if we would just get a no. Instead of being supported, encouraged and helped, it was another barrier to hurdle. ... it's just not the right framework to support a larger, multi-site church."
In PCUSA, the presbytery, or regional governing body, is responsible for planning and placing new churches. Tom Conrad, chair of the PCUSA team selected to deal with the proposed departure of the Menlo Park church, agreed the concept of opening multiple sites doesn't fit well with that organization's system; as a result, there are "precious few" multi-site churches.
Some former and current members of MPPC said they think the theological differences are influencing the church's desire to change organizations.
Later on there are comments about whether the almost $9 million buy-out price could be "better spent funding scholarships and buying food for those in need in the local community..."
Debra Holvick, who stopped attending several years ago, got re-involved to be able to participate in the upcoming vote.
"This was the church I was baptized in, I went to Sunday school there, I was married there, my father's memorial was held there, my mother remarried there and my children were raised there," she told the Almanac. "That church has been a huge part of my life, so I felt responsible for it and I don't want them to take it in an unchristian-like direction and say this is part of who I am."
Ms. Holvick said taking a stance against gay clergy and same-sex marriage may not be a major motivation for changing denominations, but it does come with the package.
New Presbyterian Moderator vows to reach out and serve - from Belfast News LetterAnd the presence of the Rev. Liz Hughes in the final vote, and falling one vote short, has grabbed some significant media attention as well:
Presbyterian moderator says politicians must find way of dealing with past - from The Irish Times
Just a day after his election, new Presbyterian Church Moderator sparks row by telling gay people to stop having sex - from Belfast Telegraph
Town-born Liz just misses out in historic bid to become Moderator - from Portadown Times
A female Moderator is surely inevitable - from Portadown Times
Scotland becomes seventeenth country to approve same-sex marriages - from ReutersAlthough individual pastors are speaking out in favour of the legislation:
Same-sex marriage vote prompts church concerns - from Daily Record
Churches denounce law that legalizes same-sex marriage in Scotland - from Ecumenical News
Cambuslang minister goes against own church's view on same sex marriage - from Daily Record
Free Church of Scotland settles with crash boy's parents - from the BBC
New ring and cross for Kirk's Moderator after originals stolen - from STV News
Presbyterian group’s plan to sell Michigan campsite meets opposition - from Chicago Sun-Times (Feb 5)
Church votes to sell Saugatuck campground property to developer for $10M - from The Grand Rapids Press (Feb 10)
Sale of 130-acre Presbyterian Camps completed - from Holland Sentinel (Feb 18)
Year after tornado, damaged Hattiesburg church holds communion - from the Clarion Ledger
Kenya: The Terrorism of Our Modern-Day Pastors - from allAfricaThere were also comments about the economy from the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana and suggestion that spending be cut instead of taxes raised:
Imposition of taxes is not the answer – Presby Moderator - from Graphic Online
Rats close Erin Road Presbyterian - from Trinidad Express
|The National Youth Assembly will be held 15-18 August and the theme is "My Father's House." In the quotes in the Life and Work article Rachel helps to unpack this a little:
"The Church is going through challenging times so we must take time to reflect on who we are and where we are going. This year at NYA we will be exploring how we worship. We will discuss how we think the Church should be spending its money. We will be investigating how we can do ministry intergenerationally and finally, how we can support Christians in the Middle East. As we join together to celebrate 20 fabulous years of NYA I hope delegates will feel empowered and strengthened in their faith."(And I have to give a nod of approval to the coffee cup - OK, hot beverage cup - in the graphics.)