Pilgrims' Pitstops: The Gospel's CTL+ATL+Delete
Written by The Rev. Dr. Neal Presa   
Friday, 27 June 2014 13:36
Note: This is the text of the sermon based on Luke 24:28-51 and Romans 15:1-6, 13 that Moderator Neal Presa preached at the opening worship of the 221st General Assembly, June 14, 2014, in Detroit, MI.  The text has been submitted for journal publication.

Terrified disciples.

Anxious people.

Bewildered companions.

This scene unfolds as two travelers on the road to Emmaus. Jesus walks ahead.

Why the rush, stranger? Stay with us. The day is short.

It’s a good thing He came to their house and ate with them.

In that act of blessing, bread-breaking, feasting – their hearts opened

Their minds lit up

The stranger who opened the Scriptures to them,

Who showed them places in the prophets, psalms, and Moses

That testified of him centuries before.

These same Scriptures were about Him. Jesus the Christ.

The crucified, the Son of God, the Son of Man. The risen One, in front of them.

On the journey, the chorus of W.H. Auden’s Christmas Oratorio reminds us:

He is the Way.
Follow Him through the Land of Unlikeness;
You will see rare beasts, and have unique adventures.

 

He is the Truth.
Seek Him in the Kingdom of Anxiety;
You will come to a great city that has expected your return for years.

 

He is the Life.
Love Him in the World of the Flesh;
And at your marriage all its occasions shall dance for joy.

The basic neglect of the disciples then and the basic neglect of us disciples now is to get anywhere, to move somewhere, to go, to walk, to do something. Our hearts are restless to remain. Not standing still, but to remain, to be where the heart of God is.

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Becoming the Fellowship Community
Written by PFR   
Thursday, 05 June 2014 05:48

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with great joy and anticipation that we celebrate the launch of a new movement as the Fellowship of Presbyterians and Presbyterians for Renewal (PFR) join together to nurture and connect gospel-centered PC(USA) congregations and expand relationships with our counterparts in other mainline traditions.

The Fellowship Community is not an “association” to join. We are building a new community around Christ-centered mission, accountability, theological integrity, and cultural engagement. We are following the Holy Spirit’s leading into a new season of mission and ministry, shaping an evangelical witness and actively participating in God’s mission in the context of our 21st century church and culture.

The new Fellowship Community will be ending our corporate connection with ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.  We will, however, continue to nurture relationships through common values, the Essential Tenets – a  way of articulating our confessional faith created by theologians in the PC(USA) and ECO, Mission Affinity Groups, and other relational opportunities. 

To this new community, the Fellowship brings its identity and founding vision; a movement within the PC(USA) nurturing leaders to meet the challenges of the contemporary church and creating a supportive biblical community. PFR brings financial and structural resources along with a deep commitment to smaller membership congregations, elders as spiritual leaders, evangelical seminary students and faculty, and the nurture of women in leadership.

The Fellowship and PFR will be working together at the 221st General Assembly in Detroit including joint sponsorship of a Wednesday morning breakfast with Dr. Mark Labberton, President of Fuller Theological Seminary, as our speaker. By the time of the National Gathering, co-sponsored by the Fellowship and ECO, August 18-20 in Dallas, a new Board of Directors will have been elected. At the Gathering, an ecumenical conversation group will be commissioned to explore the ways our new community can intersect with our counterparts in other denominations. We anticipate full merger of the organizations by January 1, 2015.

Christ-centered mission, personal accountability, theological integrity, and cultural engagement: if these values and others like them are important to you, the Fellowship Community may be for you.

This vision has been unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of PFR and the Board of Directors of the Fellowship. We have been given an opportunity to move ahead of the curve into new and exciting areas of ministry. We cannot do this without you!Questions? Ideas? Email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . We welcome your vision, your prayers, and your financial support.  Also, look for fresh insights in our new blog posts at www.fellowship-pres.org.

Bill Teng, President, Presbyterians for Renewal
Jim Singleton, President, the Fellowship of Presbyterians
Paul Detterman, Executive Director of PFR and the Fellowship
 
A Pastoral Letter from PFR and the Fellowship of Presbyterians
Written by PFR and the Fellowship of Presbyterians   
Friday, 20 June 2014 15:03
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, 

Meeting in Detroit, our 221st General Assembly has taken two significant actions on the teaching and practice of marriage according to the PC(USA)'s Book of Order. First, the GA approved an Authoritative Interpretation (AI) that now permits PC(USA) pastors to conduct same-sex weddings, and allows sessions to approve the use of church property for such ceremonies. Secondly, the GA approved a proposed amendment to the Book of Order that would replace current language with a description of marriage as a relationship between "two people, traditionally a man and a woman." 

While the AI goes into effect immediately, the proposed amendment requires ratification by a majority of the presbyteries before any change could be made, a process that takes about one year. Both measures are designed to allow pastors and congregations to participate in same-sex weddings in states where gay marriage is legal. 

We grieve these actions by the General Assembly. We believe we will look back on this day and see the error of these decisions. But an Assembly of our denomination has spoken, and now we must move ahead without compromising compassion or conviction. 

It is extremely important to understand that while the AI and the constitutional amendment broaden the denomination's interpretation of marriage, they do not require any pastor to officiate or any session to authorize the use of church property for a marriage service with which they disagree. It remains up to each pastor and each session to determine what is and is not appropriate for their congregation. 

Proponents of these two actions have made great effort to invite and welcome those who hold unwaveringly to a traditional interpretation of marriage to remain engaged in the mission and ministry of the PC(USA) with full integrity. Some will resolve to do this-others may not. Those of us who do remain in the PC(USA) will, no doubt, encounter other decisions and actions with which we will disagree. We are not here to fight and divide, but to continue to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and to testify to the transforming power of his love that is available to everyone.  We urge you in the strongest possible way to refrain from actions, attitudes, and language that would mar the image of Christ in your response to the Assembly's actions.

Let us commit to one another, and to Almighty God, that we will seek to embody the grace and love of our Savior across our theological differences, and in personal and congregational deliberations about our future in the PC(USA).



 
 
Resources for the Marriage Debate & Beyond
Written by PFR   
Friday, 14 March 2014 08:30
Firmly believing and proclaiming that God's covenant of marriage is between one man and one woman, we who claim the label “evangelical” are, first and foremost, to be the bearers of this Good News. The gospel compels us to be part of the debate about marriage, and we who are part of the Body of Christ must be able to disagree with one another while maintaining mutual respect and compassion. The way in which we engage in the marriage debate, both within and beyond the PC(USA), has far greater potential to validate or harm our Kingdom witness than any Assembly vote.  

To this end, we offer a variety of articles, videos, and books that may be helpful in preparing for the upcoming debate on Christian Marriage and also for nurturing ongoing ministry.  We will update these resources as new materials are discovered.  You will not agree with everything on this list.  As an example, you may wonder why PFR would publish the marriage study from the More Light Presbyterians.  We offer these resources in an effort to bring clarity and eliminate stereotyping of either the progressive or the evangelical point of view in this important debate.  We pray that these resources will help to foster a discussion that honors the Savior among those who are within the Body of Christ.

From the PC(USA)

Marriage study (and related resources) from the Office of Theology and Worship

From More Light Presbyterians   (in support of redefinition)

Marriage & the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): A People’s Guide for Study and Conversation

Articles

“Justice Kennedy’s 40,000 Children”

Robert Oscar Lopez, The Witherspoon Institute Public Discourse, May 2013

“Love and the Inhumanity of Same-Sex Marriage”

Jonathan Leeman, The Gospel Coalition, April 2013

“Marriage: What it Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It”

Ryan Anderson, The Heritage Foundation, Marcy 2013

“Same-Sex Marriage and the Common Good”

Richard Mouw, Mouw’s Musings, November 2012

“Same-Sex Marriage and the Single Christian”

Katelyn Beaty, Christianity Today, July 2013

"Sex After Christianity"

Rod Dreher, The American Conservative, April 11, 2013

“Sex in Leviticus”

Christopher Wright, Christianity Today, July 2013

“Sex Without Bodies”

Andy Crouch, Christianity Today, June 2013

"Sexual Athism: Christian Dating Data Reveals a Deeper Spiritual Malaise"

Kenny Luck, The Christian Post, April 10, 2014

“Why No One Hears Arguments for Marriage: What That Means for Us”

John Stonestreet, Breakpoint, April 2013

 “Why Welcome and Same-Sex Couple to Church

Timothy Morgan, Christianity Today, August 2013

Video

“Speaking a Mystery: God’s Design for Human Sexuality” PFR Resources, 2006

Books

“Authentic Human Sexuality: An Integrated Christian Approach”

Judith and Jack Balswick, IVP (2008)

“Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America”

Jeff Chu, Harper Collins (2013)

“Is God Anti-Gay: Questions Christians Ask”

Sam Allberry, The Good Book Co. (2013)

“Homosexuality and the Christian”

Mark Yarhouse, Bethany House (2010)

“Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community”

Andrew Marin, IVP (2009)

“Sex and the iWorld: Rethinking Relationship Beyond an Age of Individualism”

Dale Kuehne, Baker Academic (2009)

“Sexuality and Holy Longing: Embracing Intimacy in a Broken World”

Lisa Graham McMinn, Jossey-Bass (2004)

“The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex is Too Important to Define Who We Are”

Jennell Williams Paris, IVP (2011)

“Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs-Christians Debate”

Justin Lee, Jericho Books (2012)

“Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality”

Wesley Hill, Zondervan (2010)

“What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense”

Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson, Robert George, Encounter Books (2012)

 

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