From the Worldwide Faith News archives

130 GA commissioners send open letter to the church

Date 5 Dec 2001 14:05:19 -0500

Note #6969 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:


130 GA commissioners send open letter to the church

Group calls apostasy charge 'an outrageous characterization'

by Jerry L. Van Marter

LOUISVILLE - A group of 130 commissioners from 80 different presbyteries to
last summer's 213th General Assembly - saying they have been "deeply
disappointed and hurt by the way in which our actions as commissioners have
been mischaracterized by certain publications - have sent an open letter to
the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) explaining their decisions.

	The letter singles out The Presbyterian Layman for calling the Assembly
"apostate," which the letter-writers called "an outrageous

	The open letter focuses on two of the Assembly's most controversial
actions: to send out Amendment 01-A, which would delete G-6.0106b (the
commonly called "fidelity and chastity" provision) of The Book of Order, and
to create a "Task Force on Theological Issues" to try and sort out
theological conflicts within the church.

	As of Dec. 5, Amendment A is trailing 6-30 in voting by the presbyteries.
The Theological Task Force holds its first meeting Dec. 6-8 in Dallas.

	The full text of the letter:

	Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.

	We are Elders and Ministers of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian
Church (USA).

	We were privileged to serve the Presbyterian Church (USA) as Commissioners
to the 213th General Assembly.

	In our preparations for General Assembly, in our listening to one another,
to voices from across the Church, and to the Holy Spirit; in our
deliberations, our prayers, and our votes, we sought to serve the people and
our Lord with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.

	Led by Moderator Jack Rogers, we joyfully confessed our faith.  

	We worshipped God, were introduced to anti-racism training, approved
initiatives for campus ministry, extended ministries with children,
addressed domestic violence, responded to conflicts in Congo and Sudan, and
took a host of other actions that we believe to be to the glory of God and
the health of the PC(USA).

	As noted in this "Voiceline" report from the Presbyterian News Service:

	"What should be remembered about this Assembly is that it showed a
degree of trust in its committees, conducted its business prayerfully and
civilly, and took seriously both the social witness of the church and the
theological underpinnings that drive the mission and ministry of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). And just about all of the Assembly's decisions
were made by overwhelming majorities, demonstrating a remarkable degree of
unity in a church that is frequently characterized as badly divided."

	We authorized the creation of a Task Force "to lead the PC(USA) in
spiritual discernment of our Christian identity, seeking the peace, unity
and purity of the church."

	And, after long hours and careful consideration, we approved Amendment 01-A
to be sent to the presbyteries - with a 60% majority.

	In our prayerful discernment, Amendment 01-A is the way to move beyond the
conflict of the last quarter-century and free the PC(USA)'s energy,
resources, and attention for the urgent task of demonstrating the Gospel to
a world in need of Christ's grace and peace.

	Amendment 01-A trusts sessions and presbyteries with their historic
responsibility to discern God's call to potential officers, and does not
enforce one disputed interpretation on the whole church.

	The passage of Amendment 01-A will enable the Task Force to do the job for
which it was established without being consumed by single?issue controversy.

	Amendment 01-A honors Scripture, Confessions, and our Presbyterian heritage
- and allows Presbyterians to honor and respect one another.

	We urge you to join us in supporting Amendment 01-A.
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