A Time of Discernment

Human sexuality issues are front and centre for the Presbyterian Church in Canada. There will be study and dialogue at every level of the church and eventually decisions made concerning the numerous overtures forwarded to our General Assembly this past June.

There will be votes by commissioners in the coming years together with votes in sessions and presbyteries. The majority will express their will on the church. It is the way we are governed.

In the meantime, we are in a time of discernment. There will be study guides provided this fall by the joint efforts of the PCC’s Justice and Church Doctrine committees: work given to them by this past General Assembly. There will be small and large gatherings promoting everything from mutual understanding to a particular position on this debate. There will be many talking about “what ifs” as they try to picture the significance of things either staying the same or changing radically over the next few years in the life of our denomination.

I need to let you know that there continues to be passionate discussion at every level of the Renewal Fellowship’s constituency and leadership. We have also had input, sometimes very passionate input, from some who hold views contrary to the fellowship’s orthodox position.

In this period of time, how do we live out our call to seek God’s renewal for us all? I would humbly respond that just like four years ago when I came to this ministry, our call is to serve God and our denomination the best we can.

Our belief is that encouraging, organizing, and facilitating prayer is our clearest priority.

We continue to serve as agents of connection. We exist to connect the unconnected. We seek to encourage the discouraged and share resources with those who need help and healing. We also serve to connect like-minded people together. This has been accelerating over the past months as many who hold orthodox views seek to connect and share with others of similar understanding.

In the meantime, I continue to minister to many of our ministers and am looking forward to more encouragement road trips in the next couple of years. I am already seeing and hearing higher stress levels and more profound isolation as some congregations and presbyteries have experienced heightened conflict. Remember to pray for all our ministers and congregations.

Lastly, there is an elephant in the room. Many of the Renewal Fellowship membership—and I might add, many who do not align themselves as fellowship supporters but do hold orthodox views—have expressed their expectation that we do more to support the status quo and resist the changes sought. When we try and drill down to determine what is expected, it takes many forms. Some say it is not clear where we stand. Some believe we should be louder and tougher. Some believe that these issues should command all our time and resources.

I can’t speak for everyone. I can only speak for myself. I hold orthodox biblical views with respect to marriage and the totality of human sexuality. I also confess my own brokenness and the need for healing and forgiveness in my life. Also, I believe there is a greater issue that is at play today with respect to scripture, doctrine and culture. But I also believe that the church has at most times failed to practice Christ-like love and understanding to the LGBTQ individuals and communities in our midst and at our doors. I am hoping this time in the church will result in huge gains in our mutual understanding and love.

Whether you agree with me or not, please remember me in prayer. I seek to serve the God who calls me, the denomination that adopted me, and the ministers who trust me for community and connection. There is so much at stake. There is so much to do.

Published in The Presbyterian Record on September 1, 2015.