by Rob Caudillo
I come this month with some pastoral reflections and thoughts, some which I shared at the Table Talk on May 29th.
The first has to do with recent action taken by our denomination. As many of you know our church has been voting on a number of items from last year’s General Assembly. One of those items involves the replacing or retaining, in our church’s constitution (Book of Order), wording pertaining to ordination of deacons, elders and ministers of the Word and Sacrament (G-6.0106b).
The current wording is:
“Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.”
Last month our denomination and the actions of its presbyteries, had enough votes to replace our denomination’s current wording and stance. The new wording shall be:
“Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G.14.020;G-14.0450) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”
As you can see the wording does make significant changes. The biggest being that it clears the way for those persons living a homosexual lifestyle to now be able to be ordained as a deacon, elder or minister. What this means is that you and I will probably be hearing some of our Presbyteries ordaining persons living a homosexual lifestyle as ministers; we will hear of churches in our Presbytery who will be ordaining such person as deacons and elders; we will see and hear in the media news of these actions. It also means that you and I continue to live within a divided denomination; the struggle continues related to the authority of Scripture, the rightful place of our confessions, the larger Christian Church’s witness; and the question of being or not being as a denomination a member of the Apostolic Church. Finally it means you and I pray, pray and pray; we graciously, joyfully and boldly give witness to Jesus Christ, God’s Word and Kingdom truths; and we learn to be a prophetic voice at MWPC and to help as we can to call our denomination, churches, and each other to repentance.
The second thought has to do with our SaltAir Hills’ neighbors. After one of their monthly association meeting a few of them asked one of our members, “We have heard that MWPC is closing! Is that true?” Our member assured them that MWPC was not closing, to which these neighbors gave a great sigh of relief, saying – “the neighborhood would not be the same without the church”. Interesting, seeing that none of the neighbors in this recent conversation are members of our church. It does raise a concern that this misinformation is “out there” and in all likelihood came from one of us. The concern is that MWPC cannot afford this type of misinformation, any more than it can afford to be saying, “MWPC doesn’t have any money”. Both statements are untrue. Though both statements can have an impact upon the hearers, maybe not wishing to worship or fellowship with us. You and I do have a lot to say about MWPC and hopefully we can share how we have found a great Christian community, a terrific church family, a place where we have had opportunity to grow and deepen in our understanding and trust of God, our love for Jesus Christ, our caring for one another and the joy & privilege of serving others in Christ’s name while at MWPC. Now that’s appealing information, and the best of news in the midst of life that is a-changin’.