Letter from the Covenant Network of Presbyterians
http://www.covenantnetwork.org


March 1998

 

Dear Friends,

In the midst of this Lenten season, our hearts are heavy for our beloved church. Last year's General Assembly offered Amendment A to the church in a spirit of unity and compromise. The resultant debate and vote have demonstrated again our deep differences. We now find ourselves in a desert of anxiety over how to live together as one church.

Many, we know, wish this debate had never been engaged. It may be that the arena in which the church chose to continue the discussion of ordination standards - the constitutional amendment process - was not the best venue. Clearly, however, the conversation must continue. Amendment A has been defeated; but questions of the meaning of discipleship and ordination, the role and use of Scripture and the confessions in our lives, and the face our church presents to a broken world are subjects with which our church is not yet finished.

Acknowledging that a substantial majority of presbyteries voted against the Amendment, we nonetheless point out that almost half -46% as we write - of all the minister and elder commissioners in presbytery meetings voted for Amendment A.

While we are grateful for the civility and respect shown in many presbyteries in the debate on Amendment A, we fear for the unity of the church when we hear threats of enforcement, or invitations simply to leave the church we love and have served faithfully.

As pastors, we recognize the tremendous challenges these issues present to our congregations and officers. The impact of G-6.0106b will be felt most strongly at the local level. We hear from all across the country deep pastoral concern about trying to live with a constitutional provision that would exclude so many longtime leaders from service in the church if rigidly applied and enforced.

The Executive and National Committees of the Covenant Network have met to discuss the meaning of the vote's outcome, and to form a response to suggest to the many Presbyterians who supported Amendment A. The result of our prayerful consideration is the Call to Covenant Community.

This Call to Covenant Community expresses a vision of a church that hopes to be, as our Book of Order says, "the provisional demonstration of what God intends for all of humanity" (G-3.0200). We believe God intends the church to be inclusive, to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ seriously, and to follow where the Holy Spirit leads.

We are confident that in time God's church will come to reflect God's grace.

Like all of you, as faithful Presbyterians we rejoice in our church's historic mission and witness. The Covenant Community we envision arises from the heart of that tradition, and is offered in that spirit.

Please consider joining us in this effort to help our church move together into the future God holds for us, by signing the Call to Covenant Community as an individual or as a governing body of the church.

And as we all proceed together on our journey, let us all pray for the healing of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

In Christ's service,

Robert W. Bohl
Pastor, Village Presbyterian Church
Prairie Village, KS
Moderator, 206th General Assembly

 

John M. Buchanan
Pastor, Fourth Presbyterian Church
Chicago, IL
Moderator, 208th General Assembly


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