Saturday, August 20, 2011


I've never been to Minneapolis.  But I'll soon be there with 2000 other Presbyterians united by a common sense of discomfort. That makes the trip both a joy and a sorrow.

The joy comes in joining with like-minded Christians in an effort to find a way forward in the midst of difficult days for Christian denominations. We've been living with the problems - enormous losses of members, dysfunctional denominational structures, and theological infighting - for decades. There is a sense in which almost everything is up for discussion and potential change, and that's a good thing. It's hard not to be excited about time with folks who seems to share so much in common.

The sorrow comes with the admission that we Presbyterian Christians are deeply at odds with each other; that's why we're meeting in Minneapolis. Many in our denomination wish we were not meeting. The PCUSA's recent decision to significantly alter its sexual lifestyle standards for pastors and other ordained leaders is the current flash point in a long history of discord. We may find it is the tipping point. There should be a certain sorrow and a certain fear, when a group of Christians is united by what it opposes among other Christians. 

Still this meeting feels necessary to me.  Without an attempt to name a positive future for Presbyterians at odds with the actions of their denomination, many churches will leave the Presbyterian Church USA even if they don't do it formally.  They will simply become absent; no longer meaningfully connected beyond the denomination's initials placed inconspicuously on some piece of church stationary.  When a church finds the  connection to its wider denomination to be mainly demoralizing and divisive, no one is well served.

Join me in praying for God's guidance for the Minneapolis meeting. Emotions are high; and so are expectations.  We need a word from the Lord of the Church.

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