If the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is at a crossroads in its life -- a time when many aspects of our life together need to be subjected to careful scrutiny to determine their usefulness to the church -- then certainly a re-examination of the meeting of the General Assembly itself is in order.
Living for 15 months in Egypt introduced us to a different world -- Arabic and Islamic; ancient yet modern; a third world, and an industrial nation unable to give up its old ways; a gracious hospitable people who want you to like their country.
I have experienced an epiphany, or at least a reawakening of personal hope for our Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In a day when it seems that our beloved church is being torn asunder by irreconcilable issues, such as the Amendment O debate, little did I realize that a request from my session would lead me to a rediscovery of hope for the church.
It is too bad that with so many challenges facing the church today we have to be conducting a dispute with our good friend Jerry Andrews over Amendment O. This diversion of valuable energy is just one more reason we are against the amendment.
Last Saturday evening I spent about an hour and a half sitting crossed-legged on the bed in the basement room of one of my 13-year-old parishioners while she and her two friends fired questions at me non-stop. As soon as I took a breath in an answer, mostly to check my own brain to be sure that I was on track, the next question shot out, hung in the air in a pleading way and fell into my lap.
What will the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) be like in the next 10 or 20 years? Only God knows with certainty. But if young pastors, those age 40 or younger, are any indication, the denomination may very well continue to retreat from causes associated with the Great Society and its heirs, while returning to its theological roots.
The Guest Viewpoint by Jerry Andrews and reply by Robert Bullock and me offers a poignant example of Christian friends engaging each other -- reluctantly -- in disagreement. What are we to make theologically of this fact: that disagreement seems to be a permanent mode of the church's existence?
The theology, constitution and policy of our church, in concert with the church universal and ecumenical, teaches that sexual expression belongs only within the covenant of marriage. The polity of the church is to conform to the profession of the church, as our Preliminary Principles say: "We are persuaded that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty."
I would like to make three comments on Robert Bullock's important editorial, "A Sacred Trust." Before I do that, let me say that even though I differ with him on a number of issues, not the least of which is Amendment O, I know that Robert is a dedicated servant of Jesus Christ and of the PC(USA).