Thursday, July 30, 2009

Beaver-Butler Presbytery passes
Theological Declaration concerning
218th General Assembly

Okay, now for the "official" announcement.

Sorry to all that this took so long. Pat just moved to a new call in Wenatchee, Wasington, I'm technically on vacation & Toby's been busy, too. Obviously word has gotten out into blog-land that the Declaration passed. Toby and I both put up mentions of it on our FaceBook pages yesterday.

Further complicating the process here was that Pat couldn't find his password, and I've switched computers since this blog was started, so I had to re-find my "cookies". I realize these are probably tech details that bore some of you, but I offer them by way of apology.

Now for the news:

The Open Theological Declaration to the PC(USA) concerning the 218th GA was adopted Tuesday, 28 July 2009 by action of the Beaver-Butler Presbytery at its stated meeting by a vote of 69-33.

The document had been introduced as new business at the September 2008 meeting as authored by Pat McElroy and Rusty Stuart and posted on this blog last year. At the November '08 meeting the Declaration was refered to a special Task Force on which I served with the Revs. Randall Clow, Ellen Campbell-Gardener, N. Graham Standish and El;der Paul Smith. Elloen had to leave us in April of this year because of a new call and her pending marriage.

We introduced the Declaration at the May meeting when it was refered to the July meeting so we could have more time for study and maximum time and participation for floor debate.

The Declaration is substantially the same document as the one that all of you remember, though it has been re-organized, has many foot-notes and appended documentary citation. I assure you that nothing of substance was lost in the process. In fact, I think it's actually a stronger document in many ways -- an opinion shared by both Pat and Toby.

We are still waiting for the final certified copy from our stated clerk (and this will be posted as soon as we receive it). That said, the document that passed is identical to what was proffered to the Presbytery with the exceptions of a re-written 1st prargraph in the introduction and two one-word changes within the body of the text.

In order to read the document as it was submitted, you can get it from the BBP meeting packet. It is a PDF document and you will find it on Pages 19 - 29 of 73. The URL is:,%202009/Pre-Mail%2007-28-09%20Complete.pdf

We are thrilled by the response and debate we had in Presbytery. The debate was long and hard (more than an hour-and-a-half), but it was civil and intense. People knew what they were voting on and did so (in either direction) from genuine conviction.

God IS good!

Our thanks to all who have labored and prayed with us, supported us in one way or another, and most certainly to those of you who subscribed the initial document. We would encourage you to look seriously as the new version and consider subscibing that as well. As before, if you let us know, we'll post your names, churches and affiliations.

Lastly, we seek to have other sessions adopt and submit this document to their presbyteries for discussion and approval. We are convinced that this is the way forward. The changes we seek must come from the lowest judicatories to the highest and must remain within the governing bodies themselves. As much as we value and are thankful for the work of Affinity Groups, the work that must now be done, must come legislatively. Further it must come in the form of theological reflection as this has, and not via polity. we've labored for 80 years (+/- ) in polity fights rather than in theology and all this has accomplished has been to turn three 1/2 inch thick Books of Order in to one mamoth big bug thumper with which we annually play "Capture the Flag". Something new has to happen!

This is a fight we must commit to. As tired, dispirited and justifiably upset as we are, we must stay carry it through until we are pushed out or win the argument. If we go elsewhere with the issues unresolved, then the same battle will merely follow us elsewhere in a different form 15 - 20 years from now.

Let us give thanks for the intense labors of those who've been battling for three generations. Let us rejoice before the throne for the "cloud of witnesses" who've labored so diligently in the vineyard and have been bloodied and battered for their witness. Then let us "re-Gird our loins" for an honorable fight rooted in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4and armed with the armour of the Spirit (Ephesians Italic6).

Our Defender is Strong!

Grace & Peace,
+Rusty Stuart