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This Day in Presbyterian History

Now what, PCUSA evangelicals?

In what was called a “refuge camp” across the border, Presbyterian and Reformed evangelicals met on August 24, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota to discuss what could be done in the light of the General Assembly and subsequent  presbyteries voting in the majority to allow homosexuals full participation in the clergy ranks of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.

This was no small gathering.  It was composed of 2000 individuals, from 49 states, representing 830 congregations of the PCUSA, with 70 middle governmental and denominations officials present. Sponsored by the Presbyterians for Renewal, it introduced the newly formed Fellowship of Presbyterians, which has at its purpose to enable churches to find ways to work within or leave the parent denomination.

Within or without!  Those two options have several sub-options found in them, but there is still the hope that somehow they might be permitted to work within the camp of the PCUSA.  Indeed, the options presented to the delegates included three positions to work within the PCUSA.  Yet two of these would require constitutional changes to the Form of Government which would allow either conservative presbyteries within an existing presbytery, sort of a church within a church idea, or the election of two committees to examine candidates for the ministry in each presbytery.  These were all the “within” options.

It was only the last option which suggested the possibility of separation from the church altogether and affiliation with a New Reformed Body, whatever form that new body would encompass. Other bodies, which have already declared their separation from the UPUSA, such as the New Wineskin churches are planning meetings to reach out to the group which met in Minneapolis in August 2011.

All agreed something had to be done. The tent which was supposed to let everyone in had just collapsed in the middle.  By the time this historical essay is presented in 2012, hopefully there will be a clearer idea of where the evangelicals left in the apostate denomination will go.

Words to live by:  It seems to this contributor that the lines in the sand have been moved again and again by the evangelicals in this liberal Presbyterian denomination.  All the arguments that by staying in, we can influence the liberal churchmen for good have failed to take in the truth that the liberal philosophy of the modernists can likewise weaken the evangelical and Reformed standards.  And yet it can most decided do that, and has done that.  There are denominations true to the Scriptures, the  Reformed Faith, and the Great Commission of the gospel.  Support them by your support,  and return to your biblical foundations as a church.

Through the Scriptures:  1 Chronicles 7 – 9

Through the Standards:  Praying in the name of Christ 

WLC 180 —  “What is it to pray in the name of Christ?
A.  To pray in the name of Christ is, in obedience to his command, and in confidence on his promises, to ask mercy for his sake; not by bare mentioning of his name, but by drawing our encouragement to pray, and our boldness, strength, and hope of acceptance in prayer, from Christ and his mediation.”

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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

WCF 19:7
“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.”

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