I Was There
Last week, at the end of a conference, as I was putting my plastic name tag holder in the recycle box a young man said to me excitedly, “Keep your name tag so that you have a memento for when it all began to prove you were here!” I was there but it was not a happy occasion for me as it was this young pastor/congregation member.
Our presbytery executive, Edward Dunn, and I attended the conference of the Fellowship of Presbyterians in Orlando Florida last week. It was a follow-up to the meeting last summer with the promise of “more details” about the next steps in the new Evangelical movement. The result, the official birthing of a new Reformed denomination. The name, Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO). One can find the meaning behind the name and detailed information on the Fellowship of Presbyterian’s website: http://www.fellowship-pres.org/ and subsequently ECO: http://www.fellowship-pres.org/evangelical-covenant-order/. The new thrust is well thought through, competently stated and comprehensive. Participants were invited to sign their churches up to become members, there, on the spot. So why am I NOT enthusiastic?
For me this movement causes great grief. I am about to loose valued and loved members of my spiritual family. Yes, I had grieved even the thought of this schism. And now it is a reality. In the not-to-distant future a significant number of pastors who I have known and appreciated for years will no longer be part of my spiritual family. Congregations that have committed their mission and ministries within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will withdraw their support of vital missions. There is so much to loose.
I will truly miss the greater diversity the PCUSA has with the significant mixture of Evangelical and liberal congregations. We will be far less a denomination with the silence of their voices, with the challenges they bring to our decisions, with their yearning for a Christ-centered ministry. I am not going into a litany of the disputes that have brought us to this day, but suffice it to say, as a denomination we will be less than before.
As I (we) live into this seismic occurrence in the Christian world my prayer is that God will do a good work of revelation in ALL our lives whether in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) or the Evangelical Covenant Order.