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Sunday, July 06, 2008

gracious witness resolution, pt. 2

This was my testimony against item 03-21, which called for the creation of a two million dollar legal fund for presbyteries in litigation with churches seeking dismissal.

Brothers and Sisters, please vote ‘no’ on this motion.

There is an immeasurable cost to what this motion proposes. And brothers and sisters, that cost is not the two million dollars, which is inconceivable enough as we struggle to support our missionaries. The immeasurable cost is the damage done to real human beings in our midst and to our witness to Jesus Christ in the world as “Christians sue Christians.” Friends, there is a better way!

One might say that we are experiencing a kind of divorce between some congregations and the PCUSA. In a local congregation, when a divorce is in process, a sharp attorney might advise one spouse to get all they can while the getting is good. But, as pastors and elders, we have a different perspective, particularly if one or both parties are Christian. We must be concerned that in these church dismissals, we function first as pastors and elders in Christ, rather than as legal counsel for one party. Brothers and sisters, there is a better way!

But what if a church initiates action? Jesus doesn’t call us to stockpile arms, but to lay down arms and shepherd his sheep. Will this encourage more churches to leave? On the contrary, grace is inviting and winsome while legal threat or retaliation further divides. In the big picture, litigation is a lose-lose situation for the people in our churches and it is deadly to the cause of Christ. Beloved, there is a better way!

I urge you to vote NO on this motion.

See also the text, rationale, and presentations of the "gracious witness resolution" in committee, against 03-21 (this post), and speaking for 04-28.

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