The more we get together

In this age of online video conferencing, “facetime” has taken on a new meaning. For little or no cost, a group of individuals can talk and see each others’ smiling faces with a video monitor as our meeting room. The technology has improved, and it’s no longer an exercise in frustration.

But it’s still second best and always will be. Nothing replaces the handshake or hug.

And it’s even more critical when the stakes are high. The summer of our theological discontent has turned to autumn, and presbyteries are gathering. On every agenda in the months to come will be consideration of the remits dealing with marriage and call/ordination of those in same-sex partnerships. Those who adhere to a biblical understanding of marriage are praying and wondering how to respond.

It’s why my flight is booked to Moncton for the “Regional Denominational Conversation” on September 21st at St. Andrew’s Moncton. Hosted by Rev. Martin Kreplin of St. Andrew’s and Rev. Charles Cook from nearby Bethel Presbyterian in Riverview, the purpose will be to discuss the remits, their implications, and possible ways forward.

It’s also why my rental car is reserved for “A Place to Stand: Continuing the Gospel Mission and Work of God in the PCC”, organized by Eastern Han-Ca at Vaughan Community Church on September 28th. Its overall goal is to work to ensure “that there will always be a place for those holding to a biblical, traditional, orthodox, historical view on sexuality to do ministry.”

If you are able to attend either or both gatherings, it will be well worth it. The benefits of live-and-in-person are obvious. It’s an opportunity to share stories that can happen only in person, producing great memories and new friendships. (I have no science to back it up, but meeting fatigue sets in much faster online. I know that many people have trouble getting past one hour by Zoom or Skype but can endure 4-6 hours of meetings.)

So, if you have to dig deep and devote an entire day – I urge you to consider it.

Other gatherings have already taken place: August 5th in Montreal, July 22nd in Etobicoke, and June 19th in Vaughan. And that’s not to slight any smaller meetings of which I’m not aware. Others may be in the works.

The Background:

In June, General Assembly approved the following remits:

  1. The Presbyterian Church in Canada holds two parallel definitions of marriage and recognizes that faithful, Holy Spirit filled, Christ centred, God honouring people can understand marriage as a covenant relationship between a man and a woman or as a covenant relationship between two adult persons. That congregations, sessions, ruling and teaching elders be granted liberty of conscience and action on marriage.
  2. That congregations and presbyteries may call and ordain as ministers and elect and ordain as ruling elders LGBTQI persons (married or single) with the provision that liberty of conscience and action regarding participation in ordinations, inductions and installations be granted to ministers and ruling elders.

“Is there a place for those who adhere to the authority of Scripture and the traditional understanding of marriage should those Remits pass General Assembly?” ask the organizers of the September 21st gathering. “Can a conservative voice exist within the PCC? Even if these Remits do not pass General Assembly, what are the long-term implications for conservatively minded Presbyterian congregations? What options are there for us moving forward in either scenario?”

Great questions. And they’re best dealt with in person.

While presbyteries have until April 1, 2020, to submit their responses to the remits, I’m aware of at least one court that has already voted: the Presbytery of Peace River voted “No” to both remits on September 7th.

If a majority of the PCC’s 45 presbyteries approve, and that majority consists of at least half of the combined total of the constituent members of presbyteries, then the remits will go to next year’s General Assembly for final consideration. That Assembly is free to vote “Yes” or “No”.

Meeting details:

Saturday, September 21st, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., lunch included, at 77 Hildegard Dr., Moncton, New Brunswick, hosted by Bethel Presbyterian Riverview and St. Andrew’s Moncton. RSVP to <martin@kreplin.ca>

Saturday, September 28th, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Vaughan Community Church, 200 Racco Parkway, Thornhill, Ontario. Details and registration info at www.pccaplacetostand.com.