As an American and as an Episcopalian, I was raised to pledge to and pray for two audacious goals: "liberty and justice for all" and "thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven," respectively. Yesterday's historic step by the Presbyterian Church USA brought us a little closer to both.
The raising hands and the lifting of arms is an act of total surrender. It says, "I give up." It communicates, "I have nothing to hide." It means, "Take me as I am." Most often, it's an act of surrender to a power greater than oneself.
Year-over-year, our loss of Total and Participating Membership sits close to 20 percent, but that our Average Worship Attendance is only a little over 4 percent. That is a shocking loss to absorb in a single year.
If one of America's historic mainline churches can respectfully and prayerfully debate important issues like marriage, justice or geopolitical conflicts -- and reach a conclusion graciously -- might this be a turning point in our national debates? I have hope that this is so.
I think we need to accept the fact that we are going to have disagreements, just as the people of Jerusalem did. So, how does Jesus guide us through these church fights? How does he want us to approach the tough issues of marriage and peace in the Middle East?
Many Presbyterians jubilantly proclaimed that the Holy Spirit had unquestionably descended upon the 221st General Assembly when commissioners voted to amend the definition of "marriage" in the Book of Order from a union of "a man and a woman" to a union of "two people."
I believe in divestment, where appropriate. Threatening to pull our money out of corporations doing business in certain parts of the world can be a good idea, if done in the right place and for the right reasons. Divestment is a terrible idea for Israel.
I want to tell you about a secret that we have had in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for many years. Sadly, it came about because many of us have been only able to speak from a place of silence, from the edges of the story.
There is a tension in identity between every institution and its community: whether the institution sets itself up as the core of a collective identity, or whether the community shapes the institution's identity as a reflection of its diaspora.
Like most new church planting pastors, when someone chooses to leave, no matter the reason, my heart and soul aches: I question my pastoral abilities, grieve the loss of relationships and always have an urge to do something to get them back.