The Bond of Love

June 26th will be a day forever remembered for the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage as a basic ‘human right’.  I join in this celebration as a Christian, a Presbyterian Pastor, and as an advocate for those who are truly in love wishing to be married.

I also need to step back from celebration to remember the pain and grief of those good and faithful women and men who disagree with this Supreme Court decision.  I need to remember that four Supreme Court justices were quite animate in their dissent of this decision.  In my quarter century of ministry, the Presbyterian church has also been painfully divided on the issue of same-sex marriage.  Every vote taken by the General assembly on issues related to sexuality seem to come down to roughly a 40/60 split.   We are not of one voice on this issue of gay marriage!

I continue to believe that love will always surpass understanding.  The love of God for all of us, regardless how we feel about this issue of gay marriage, will continue to bind us together as members of the one holy and united Body of Christ.

Let’s celebrate.  Let’s also remember some in our churches are grieving when it comes to this Supreme Court decision on the issue of same-sex marriage.  Let’s agree to disagree knowing God’s love will always create bonds that surpass any disagreement.

Prayers for the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA)

I am calling for prayer for the many challenges the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) in working with the 1001 Worshipping Community program.  After a lengthy and expensive investigation into the improper creation and funding of a newly formed California 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, four individuals at the national level of the church were dismissed.  My prayers are with all who work with Executive Director Linda Valentine and Marilyn Gamm, Chair of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board  (PMA)….and those who were dismissed–Roger Dermody, Eric Hoey, Philip Lotspeich, and Craig Williams.   .

Please lift up in prayer all who are involved in this process as no one should be demonized.  We are all still one part of the Body of Christ and graciousness in all things must be maintained.”  (Bruce Reyes, Chow, former Moderator of the PCUSA)[1] 

These are challenging times in our beloved church.  The issue of trust in the work of the Presbyterian Mission Agency will be hanging over many in the church as dark clouds break and trust in national leaders is restored.  I was recently reminded by a colleague that what happens at the national levels of the church has an impact on all of us because we are a connectional church.  Thus the need for all in our church to pray for the restoration of trust at all levels within our church.

We are connectional.  We are not part of a “them/us” church.  We are all members of the one body of Christ.   While it is true we have stubbed our toe at the national level, it’s going to take all of us working together to help this injury heal.

May God continue to help grow and move forward as the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.  While we heal, we need to hold our entire church in prayer.

For more information about the issue that has been hanging over the Presbyterian Mission Agency and our entire church, look at the articles found in Presbyterian Outlook.

The most recent article:

[1]   PC(USA) Ethics Violations and 1001 New Worshiping Communities Controversy

Experiential Learning

The experiences of others is perhaps the most valuable of all the tools in the pastor’s “Ministry Toolbox”.  For me, why else spend years upon years of attending ministry conferences in figuring out what others have done to make their experiences both faithful and successful.  For small struggling churches perhaps the most important of all resources is in looking at what others, like yourselves, have done successfully. For example, if you are a small downtown church struggling with what to do with a large and expensive building, take a look at what others have done in similar situations in addressing this concern.

Presbyterians Today June 2015

I just received my June 2015 copy of Presbyterians Today with the cover title.  “Small Churches. Big Impact”.   This issue is full of stories of experiences of others.  This learning from the experience of others will help you open doors in trying new things in the future.  In fact, I am writing this blog because I truly believe learning from the experience of others is for me the most valuable tool in my “Ministry Toolbox”.