Friday, April 13, 2012

Letter to the Center Presby Church Congregation

(following is the letter to be sent out to the congregational members of our church.  It makes for an easy blog post)

Dear Center Church Family,
This letter is notification of a congregational vote scheduled for Sunday May 20th 2012 immediately after the Sunday Worship service.  The vote is “Should Center Presbyterian Church explore separation from the PC-USA?” 
How did we get here?
Center Church was formed in 1801 and called its first pastor in 1802.  We have a long history of steadily seeking where God is leading us.  We moved with the United Presbyterian church when it merged with the southern Presbyterian Churches in the United States and established the PC-USA in 1983.
For about the past 15 years the PC-USA has drifted away from a high Biblical standard.  Much of this seems to have been an effort to be more inclusive and this has led to an erosion of Biblical authority.  Being inclusive while forgetting our call to be the Body of Christ is too high of a cost.  Last year, Amendment 10-A was passed by the Denomination.  It allows the standards for Ordination to be determined by the local church and Presbytery rather than the national body.  This is counter to the understanding of a united body of believers.  This has already resulted in the Ordination of practicing homosexual clergy, elders and deacons.  There have been concerns over this and other policies and stances made by the PC-USA.  This last step in the drift is beyond reconciliation and there are insufficient means to undo the Amendment.   Loving your neighbor and reaching out to a fallen world does not have to mean losing your footing on the solid foundation of God's Word.
Where are we now?
Discussions regarding the “if”, “when” and “how” of leaving have occurred informally many times in the past.  In November of 2011, the Session unanimously voted to explore separation and notified the Shenango Presbytery.  A Task Force of Center Church Members has been assembled to assist in the research, information collecting, and leg work of the process.  We are following the Presbytery process of Gracious Separation and this congregational vote is the next step. 

Where do we go from here?
We see this as a crucial time to move where God may be leading us.  As we proceed, we are seeking a few requirements for our future denomination decision.
  1. Affirm Jesus Christ, God the Father's only begotten Son, as our only Lord and Savior.
  2. A high view of Biblical Authority.
  3. Property and assets to be held by the congregation.
  4. Affirm the sanctity of marriage and human life.
There are a few leading options to consider (Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the Evangelical Covenant of Presbyterians) but the first decision is “Should Center Church consider separation from the PC-USA?”

Please keep the denomination, our Presbytery, and our Church in prayer; and please plan on attending the vote on May 20th.  If you have any questions or concerns there will be a discussion forum on May 6th following the worship service.  There will also be information available in the Narthex or feel free to talk with Pastor Woodman or any of the Elders.

By His Grace,
Center Church Session

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Music to My Ears

Just a simple posting of a video that shows the power of music.  I'd say more, but I don't need to.  Such a happy clip.
(this is yet anothe reason I like 22words who originally posted it)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Shhh - I'm reading (A review of "Silence")

I had much material to potentially write a quick review on (The Hunger Games (movie), The Yearling) but the grand winner is "Silence" by Shusaki Endo.

This book is stirring.  Imagine seeing an 8-month old tiger and an 8-month old bear tossed in a pen and fighting to the death.  That's how this book feels.  Things that you know get dangerous as they matured but seem manageable when they are small.  There are ugly questions and ugly answers.  But they are important questions that can't be ignored.

The tough questions -
Torture - How much could you take for a cause? How much should you allow others to take for your cause?
Judas - Was Judas happy with what he was doing in betraying Jesus or did he have an internal turmoil?  Did he suffer?
Is God silent in the suffering of the world?  In our personal suffering?

This book is not a ray of sunshine, but it isn't all clouds either.

Written in the 1960s, it starts as a collection of letters and then a narrative picks up from there.  In the 1600s two priests are sent to Japan to explore the sudden decline of what was a successful mission field.  They are also seeking any information about the reported apostasy of a renowned Father who had been working in the country for 20 years.

There are spoilers that follow.  I will say that I knew the ending before reading and it was still riveting to read.  3 days which isn't my usual pace.
I knew of this book from a sermon by Thomas MacKenzie (found here).  That too is worth investing some time (20 minutes) as it's a good sermon.  So I heard that sermon and was interested, then the Rabbitroom covered this book.  I took the plunge and I'm still soaking it up.    Knowing the ending didn't ruin it.