GSPC Stand on PCUSA Constitutional Changes
May 25, 2011
Dear Members of Good Shepherd Church,
As the elders and pastor of Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church, we are writing to inform you of a recent event in our denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Specifically, a significant change has been made to the PC(USA)’s Constitutional standards for church officers.
While this change is deeply troubling, it does not change Good Shepherd. We have the freedom and the responsibility to continue upholding biblical standards for our church officers. The freedom we embrace is the freedom of the Gospel, which calls us all to live humbly in the righteousness of Christ (Romans 6:18). We will continue to love those around us and point all persons to God’s loving and gracious will for our lives.
As you may know, since 1968, the PC(USA) has been embroiled in debate regarding what standards, involving sexuality, ought to be required of deacons, elders and pastors. In particular, the debate has focused on whether our denomination should maintain “the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness” (PC(USA) Book of Order, G-6.0106b). The amendment to the PC(USA)’s constitution which was recently approved, removes this language and this biblical standard for church officers from the Book of Order.
We know that some will choose to see this action as all about sexuality. Actually, the root issue is a differing view of the Bible’s reliability and authority. We believe that the Bible is authoritative and that it instructs us to hold leaders of the Church to a higher standard.
The Session of Good Shepherd stands with the many congregations and individuals with whom we have worked and prayed to prevent this change, which we regard as a significant break in the covenant relationship of the PC(USA).
This revision is a departure from the beliefs and practice of the historic and global Church. Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church now chooses two equally important and necessary courses of action:
First, we will continue to love and value all persons, inviting all those who seek to know God to worship, grow, and serve beside us. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; we are all sinners in need of redemption and at the foot of the cross there are no greater or lesser sins. So, just as we have always done, we will choose to love and welcome all of our friends and guests. And just as we have always done, that love and welcome extended to all, will include a call to follow God, to repent, and turn from following any savior other than Jesus Christ.
Second, we will not revise our high standards for leadership. Good Shepherd will continue to require of its officers a higher and more challenging standard of behavior. The new possibility of lowered standards will not mean the actuality of change in our congregation’s practice.
You may hear from the media that the Presbyterian Church (USA) has abandoned moral standards or that it is now committed to ordaining practicing homosexual persons. That would be an overstatement. Most likely some congregations and presbyteries will move rapidly to begin such ordinations, but there is no requirement yet that such ordinations must take place, nor is it certain that they ultimately would be approved.
The new language in the Book of Order will read: “Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life” and “governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.” This is high-sounding but abstract language that talks of standards but names none. Just how such requirements will be interpreted remains to be seen.
The bottom line is this: Although we believe the PCUSA may be in error nationally, Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church will remain steadfast to Biblical standards locally. Nothing will change for us. We will continue to love those around us and point all persons to God’s loving and gracious purpose for our lives.
Prayerfully Yours in Christ,
|Elders:||Pam Crawford||Lloyd Cullison||Rusty Cutts|
|Annette Dennis||Jani Glenn||Pope Proctor|
|Joe Sherrock||Terri Taylor||Arlen Wiens|
P.S. You will find materials published by the PCUSA which interpret this action on the Good Shepherd web site by clicking here and posted on the Session bulletin board at the church.