This Day in Presbyterian History:
Transitional Presbytery Organized
Someone came up with the bright idea for sure. Why not set up a transitional presbytery for conservative Presbyterian churches who are in the process of leaving the liberal Presbyterian Church in the United States of America to join temporarily, until they decide property issues and denominational choice?
And so it was on June 20, 2007, in response to a suggestion by the conservative churches in the Wineskin organization itself, that the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) voted overwhelmingly at their General Assembly to set up a New Wineskin Transitional Presbytery, to aid the varying time schedules of those churches in the PCUSA in joining it.
This new non-geographical transition presbytery was to have a five-year history to it, designed to come to a close on July 1, 2012. At that time, all the churches in it were to make decisions about joining the EPC, or have the opportunity to decide otherwise. While the time has now been extended to December 31, 2013, in the light of the 2011 decision by the PCUSA General Assembly and presbyteries to allow homosexual clergy into church ministry, this methodology has brought many new congregations into the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. From July 2010 to May 2011, twenty-six former Presbyterian Church in the USA were received into the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. And that number is expected to grow.
Understandably, the UPUSA, seeing many of their congregations depart to the EPC, brought accusation of what amounted to “sheep-stealing” against the EPC. But the latter rebutted their charges that they are only responding to legitimate requests for church fellowship from interested churches. No evidence was ever brought forward to justify the charges of the UPUSA.
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which began in 1981, continues to grow numerically from all these joining churches. And the Transitional Presbytery organized back in 2007 was a way for departing churches to “catch their spiritual breadth,” and fully access the mutual expectations, before committing to a momentous move of affiliation. It was a brilliant idea.
Words to Live By: It was Solomon who first observed in Proverbs 15:22 that “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.” (NAS) In times like these, especially in the church world, the consultation of other presbyters or elders, teaching and ruling, bring plans to fruition instead of frustration. Don’t be afraid to contact your Session or Presbytery for help in times of need.
Through the Scriptures: 1 Kings 17 – 19
Through the Standards: Uses of moral law agree with the gospel
“Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it; the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely, and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requires to be done.”