"Urging a Gracious, Pastoral Response to Churches
Requesting Dismissal from the PCUSA"
The 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) directs the stated clerk to send this resolution to the presbyteries, synods, and sessions, indicating the will of the Assembly that presbyteries and synods develop and make available to lower governing bodies and local congregations a process that exercise the responsibility and power “to divide, dismiss, or dissolve churches in consultation with their members” (G-11.0103i) with consistency, pastoral responsibility, accountability, gracious witness, openness and transparency.
Furthermore, we believe that trying to exercise this responsibility and power through litigation is deadly to the cause of Christ, impacting the local church, other parts of the Body of Christ and ecumenical relationships, and our witness to Christ in the world around us. The Assembly therefore urges presbyteries and synods to implement a process using the following principles:
Consistency: The local authority delegated to presbyteries is guided and shaped by our shared faith, service, and witness to Jesus Christ.
Pastoral Responsibility: The requirement in G-11.0103i to consult with the members of a church seeking dismissal highlights the presbytery’s pastoral responsibility, which must not be submerged beneath other responsibilities.
Accountability: For a governing body, accountability rightly dictates fiduciary and connectional concerns, raising general issues of property (G-8.0000) and specific issues of schism within a congregation (G-8.0600). But, full accountability also requires pre-eminent concern with “caring for the flock.”
Gracious Witness: It is our belief that Scripture and the Holy Spirit require a gracious witness from us rather than a harsh legalism.
Openness and Transparency: Early, open communication and transparency about principles and process of dismissal necessarily serve truth, order, and goodness, and work against seeking civil litigation as a solution.
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Sunday, July 06, 2008