|RE: Executive presbyters question the future of the PC(USA)|
|Written by Dennis Maher|
|Monday, 18 June 2012 11:13|
The Outlook survey of EP's was a creative initiative. I remember telling an EP in the '70's that the rest of us needed his observations and analysis of what was happening because only he had the big picture from interactions with all the congregations. Even 54% of returns are better than nothing. I hope that you worked with Research Services, one of the great and unique assets of the PCUSA.
It seems that what many of us suspected is now more real: We will lose 7-11% of membership and congregations over gay rights issues. Let's get on with it. I remember in 1994 sitting in a meeting of executives (discussing leadership issues) from the Episcopal Church, the UCC, the UMC, the Disciples of Christ, the RCA, the ELCA, and the United Church of Canada. In lunchtime conversation there was strong agreement around the table that there ought to be a grand re-alignment to result in a progressive United Church of North America. I was very surprised to hear this from that group. Now more than ever it seems so obvious. Many have said that they have much more in common with like-minded persons from these other denominations than we do with some of our PCUSA brothers and sisters.
We are burdened with our past. The issues that made us separate denominations are mostly just history. The great questions of the last 50 years have included the role of tradition in our lives, the degree of ambiguity we can accept, and the meaning of community in the digital age. How much diversity can we accept without losing whatever identity we begin with? Some pastors and congregations are busy working this out. It means re-thinking who we are, as seeking people rather than the ones with the answers who are all in agreement. As we speak more and more of “Spirit” we need to question our root belief in the supernatural. Our organizational structures and procedures are heavy burdens that distract us from these more basic questions.
None of us handles continual change well. Nor can we live without more change in response to the changes that are both around and in us. This contradiction may be resolved only by the God that a pastor friend suggests is or resides in our ability to experience transcendence and to come to new consciousness about the things that challenge us.
Lake Luzerne NY