I want to take the opportunity to express my opinions on what happened in Florida this week. As some of you may know, though I don't know how many, the denomination I serve changed dramatically this week. At a gathering of the Fellowship of Presbyterians in Orlando, a new Reformed denomination was born. This new entity, named ECO, has already come under fire from a number of media outlets and advocacy groups.
If you do a simple Google News search for Presbyterian, you will get nearly 30 links to stories about this new denomination, almost all of which will, with differing degrees of venom, proclaim this move has been made solely because of the PC (USA)'s decision in 2010 and 2011 to begin approving the ordination to ministry of homosexual pastors. I absolutely understand that this is a hot button issue for many people for many different reasons and cannot deny the fact that it played a roll. However, most if not all of these reports would have the reader believe that this is THE reason that the decisions were made.
I was at this conference and I can declare with a clear conscience the fact that the question of the “morality” of homosexuality or the question of ordination for that group of God's children was in no way the central issue at hand. The passing of permission for changing ordination standards was indeed the precipitating event for the discussions that followed. However, the Fellowship of Presbyterians, a religious order of conservative and evangelical Presbyterians which is committed to the ministry and mission of the PC(USA) and the newly created denomination ECO (Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians), have been created out of a concern for recapturing the missional and relational nature of the Presbyterian Church during it's hay day's of the late 1800's and early 1900's.
We, The Fellowship(of which I am now a member) and ECO, are simply seeking to establish a group that is moving beyond the battles of recent years and attempts to recapture the mission that could have been done instead. We are focused on laboring together under a common standard that we can agree upon so that dissension would decrease, in order that mission and the spreading of the Gospel would increase.
I would especially like to address the idea that this movement is specifically anti Gay. I truly believe this couldn't be farther from the truth of the matter. This organization was formed around long established spiritual and ecclesiastical goals which have been neglected or forgotten in recent years. We are not moving AWAY from the PC(USA) as much as we are moving TOWARD something new and exciting.
Something focused on creating new and diverse worship communities, re-establishing the core of the faith and theology around the Confessional Standards of the Reformed tradition and, perhaps most excitingly, re focusing on the connectional heritage of the Presbyterian church by uniting churches as accountability and mentorship partners for each other. These are all incredibly good things. Things that are better than what has been done in recent years in ANY Reformed body.
In speaking with other Presbyterians, many of whom have no interest in the Fellowship/ ECO and who disagree with me on the issue of ordination, we have come to agree that the things the Fellowship and ECO intend to bring about in regards to a change in the DNA of our churches are good things. More mission. More evangelism. More justice. More biblical focus and literacy. More accountability. More awareness of how God is moving in our midst. These are the goals at hand.
Yes, those of us who have aligned ourselves with the Fellowship and ECO are of one mind in regards to the ordination questions that have plagued our denomination for the last four decades. However, we are equally of one mind in regards to our commitment to move beyond these questions together with all Presbyterians, whether as a part of the same denomination or as part of the greater Body of Christ, to recapture what has been lost in these years of strife and battle. To declare again that Christ is Lord of all and to save those who need saving. Which, for those of you scoring at home, is all of us. Conservative or liberal. More Light or Lay Committee. Covenant Network or Fellowship. Believer or not.
If heaven isn't a gift, none of us are getting in. But it is. So let's tell the world. They need this good news whether they like it or not. God Bless.
And for you Crossfit nuts out there, a series of Blogs is working its way to the top of my brain. Sneaking up on me like the last 5 minutes of Cindy. Stay Tuned.