When Should a Church Schism?

I took a lot of heat from my Methodist friends last week for suggesting that young clergy forsake the denomination and go do something new. Let me be clear: I don’t expect one single Methodist clergyperson or seminarian to jump ship because I blogged about it. Puhleeze, people.

I will reiterate something: It is virtually impossible to see the dysfunction of a system when you’re inside it. Ask anyone who’s married to an alcoholic; ask a prison guard; ask Michel Foucault. Sometimes Often it takes an outsider to speak truth into a system. Also, dear Methodists, to appease your anger, here’s a picture of me washing Methodist feet:

That being said the Presbyterians are facing challenges of their own. The closest church to my house is Christ Presbyterian, a large PC(USA) congregation, the pastor of which has been at the forefront of the Fellowship of Presbyterians, a group of primarily large, conservative, white, suburban churches. The Fellowship is launching a new denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Order.

Our weekly suburban paper, the Edina Sun, covered the first meeting about the potential switch at Christ Presbyterian:

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My 2012 Predictions

Every year, I visit the Doug Pagitt Radio Show to give my predictions about the upcoming year in religion.  I did so on Sunday, and here are my 2012 predictions:

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Rejected Anti-Gay Ad

David Brauer reports that the Minneapolis StarTribune has rejected an ad placed by the Presbyterian Lay Committee, a conservative group within the Presbyterian Church (USA):

According to Committee president Carmen Fowler LaBerge, “The Strib indicated that if we would scrub the reference in our ad to sex within marriage and scrub the reference to the Bible, they would reconsider running it. Those edits would have so substantively changed the ad as to render it meaningless.”

LaBerge says the ad ran in big-city papers such as the Los Angeles Times (right), Wall Street Journal, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dallas Morning News, Denver Post, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Charlotte Observer, Orlando Sentinel, Houston Chronicle, Richmond Times-Dispatch and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Here’s the ad in question:

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Pomomusings Calls the Presbyterian Question

The long-expected divorce in the Presbyterian Church (USA) seems to be imminent, with a group of the fifty biggest, wealthiest, whitest, and most conservative churches in that denomination attempting to start something new.  This “Fellowship” will be a strange Venn Diagram for a denomination — in a video posted this week, one member of that Fellowship explained that this group would be in relationship with churches within the PC(USA) and from other denominational groupings as well.

It’s no surprise that more progressive elements within the PC(USA) are skeptical.  Adam Walker-Cleaveland, for one, talks about the 300 pound gorilla in the room: that these churches should probably just leave the denomination, but they would then likely lose their buildings and property (although I seem to recall that the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of a local church and against the Episcopal Church denomination in a similar case).

Adam thinks these churches are trying to have their cake and eat it to, and he challenges them to just leave:

If you think the PC(USA) is deathly ill…leave. But don’t try and concoct an anti-connectional scheme that will let you break away and create a “differentiated sub-set within the whole” yet still remain within the denomination and keep your vast properties and millions. If your beliefs and convictions lead you to surmise that breaking away from the PC(USA) is what your community needs to do – then so be it. Each presbytery is working through how it’s going to deal with the property and financial issues of such decisions; work with your presbytery, accept your fate and move forward.

via The Presbyterian Fellowship: Let us Break Away but Keep Our Property & Millions… – Pomomusings.


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