Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Separation, Texas-Style

The Reformed Pastor Blog has an detailed and enlightening article on Heritage Presbyterian Church in Houston. It re-enforces my opinion that many of the AC's trying to deal with departing churches are drive by Greed and Idol Worship. They want money for property they did not pay for, care for, or use. They think of PC(USA) as a god to be worshiped instead of a creation of man.


Kyle Walker said...

I can't understand this rationale. Heritage's property was bought by the Presbytery of New Covenant in 1980. It's first building was bought by the presbytery in 1981. The presbytery co-signed the loans for all their improvements. How can you say "they didn't pay for it" Point in fact, we paid for it together with Heritage. It belongs to both parties.

Congregations in the PCUSA system exist for the furtherance of the creedal understanding of the PCUSA. They are not for the futherance of congregation opinion when that opinion departs from the PCUSA.

Property is bought with the understanding that it will held in trust by the PCUSA. Ministers take vows to support this. Elders and Deacons take vows to support this. Congregations are led by their officers. We do not have a congregational polity.

It is beyond me to understand how our approach is not fair. It is the request of Heritage to leave with their property that isn't fair.

Jim said...

Your comment would be better on the original blog site. However, did the Presbytery really pay for the first building? Or did the church pay it back? Did they really co-sign or just approve? Exactly how much did the Presbytery spend and not have paid back?

PCUSA walked away from the Bible, Jesus, and tradition. WITHOUT the proper permission of the churches.

Kyle Walker said...

Not sure how to get to the original site...this is what comes up when I googled looking for other information.

The answers to your questions are yes. Heritage was a NCD and the terms did not expect it to be paid back. They did in fact co-sign. Heritage admits that their arguments are with teh denomination not with the presbytery.

You are incorrect about PROPER permission. Each church has representation at every court level of the church. They are entitled to their votes. Heritage has never been disenfranchised from its entitled votes. You cannot make the case that the PCUSA does not have PROPER permission when the representation that the church has always agreed to was in place.

As you to characterization of the PCUSA walking away from the Bible and Jesus, I'll just say that is a matter of your differing discernment from that of my own.

As to walking away from tradition. Well, in the Reformed understanding tradition is not, in and of itself, our authority for faith and life. It has never been an authority on par with Jesus or the Bible. That would be more Arminian, Wesleyan, Catholic, or Episcopal in understanding. So if we have walked away from tradition in the pursuit of Jesus, Scripture and the Holy Spirit then we are squarely in the Reformed understanding.

Jim said...

Kyle to go to the original site, click on the title of the blog entry on my site or use
this link.

You appear to be technically correct. Then the Pastors and session were correct to leave and start a new building. I not sure, how much grace and love was shown by this act. Was it wise, financially, when the vote was 299-63?

Since the changes on the makeup of the delegates to National, the deck has been stacked against the churches. I could write an entire thesis, on this subject alone.

The property trust clause, is new to many churches, after the union. Another thesis subject.

As far as being led by elders, I agree. When it come time to vote on a change to the constitution (BOO), how is the voted taken?

Again, which way should we lean? Legality or Grace?

Kyle Walker said...


I think you're a good conversation partner about this and I appreciate your thoughts.

Let me finish up with your point and then I'll see if I need to report at the other location to engage others about this.

Usually I'm the one making the grace v. law argument. I think this gets used by both sides a bit disingenously. I'm not saying you are being disingenous but I just want to note that more of this is about self-interest rather than grace on both sides than maybe you or I will easily admit.

As to the vote being one sided. Remember that that voted followed a set of secret meetings by Heritage. These folks were only given information through the filter of the pastoral leadership who worked months quietly behind closed doors to leave the denomination. Presbytery never had a chance to address any grievances. The congregational meeting to vote was set before presbytery knew there was a problem.

I think you do have a point when you just look at the numbers but you need to look at this closer. This presbytery is not like others you may be blogging about. We tend to be more conservative as a presbytery and more grassroots and less top-down about this particular issue. As is said around here a lot...we don't want to be in the real estate business.

However, when the church sets a congregational meetings to vote on departure and lets you know after it is set....and when their pastors and elders renounce jurisdiction before the meeting is held to vote on what to do with the property...I mean, they honestly made the decision quite clear-cut and easy.

So, I ask you...did the session and pastors really help themselves much on the property issue in this case? Was the presbytery even given the chance to do the PROPER thing in your eyes? Many of us were ready to at least work for a compromise.

It felt like the Heritage majority simply wanted the appearance of a polarized conclusion to this.

Remember also that the minority deserved some amount of advocacy. They are active and interested in working hard and growing in that place.

Jim said...

I am afraid you are the victims of behavior of the rest of PCUSA. The actions of all of the other Presbyteries, "The Louisville Papers", even the actions of some Synods, all color the trust, perceptions, and legal evaluations.

My own presbytery, EOP, has contributed to this destruction of trust. We have had leans placed on our property, lawsuits, Administrative Commissions out of control, threats made to pastors, "requests" for donations to support lawsuits.

I know your Presbytery has set up a procedure for leaving, but it may have been too late in this case. What actions has your Presbytery done previously, in regard to the trust clause? Have you endorsed its removal?

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