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Statement of the Session of Hope Church
May 12, 2011
In response to the approval of Amendment 10-A
, which removes the fidelity and chastity language from the constitutional standards for church officers, the session of Hope Church joins with the statement of the Board of Directors of Presbyterians for Renewal (PFR).
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Amendment 10-A has now been approved by a majority of the presbyteries within the PC(USA)….The biblical standard of fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman and chastity in singleness will soon be removed as an explicit denominational standard for ordination and/or installation of church officers. We deeply grieve this unfaithful action, for it brings great harm to the life and witness of the PC(USA). We have prayed that our denomination would uphold this biblical standard, and we have worked to maintain it. But now a line has been crossed.
This revision of our Book of Order signals a massive change in our covenantal life and a departure from the beliefs and practice of the historic and global church. We who are committed to holding fast the clear teaching of scripture must pray and work all the more to discern how to move forward with biblical faithfulness in and for a denomination that has lost its way.
First, we must affirm what has not changed:
- Jesus Christ is Lord – this has not changed and never will! Remember Jesus' words, "I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).
- The ultimate victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death has not been compromised! No action taken by the PC(USA) can threaten our Lord's redemptive purpose.
- Scripture still clearly teaches that God intends the gift of sexual intimacy to be expressed within a lifelong covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. No vote by the PC(USA) can change God's truth.
Within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), other important realities have not changed:
- Congregations and presbyteries have the right and the responsibility to examine and elect Deacons, Elders, and Ministers of the Word and Sacrament.
- The new constitutional language, though lacking the clear expression of "fidelity/chastity," does not require us to violate our understanding of biblical standards….
This is not a time…for pretending that we can continue to "do church" as we have before. Instead, this is the time for:
- focused prayer on repentance for our own unfaithfulness and wisdom for the future;
- new covenanted fellowships within and perhaps beyond the PC(USA) based on closer theological agreement, which will support continued biblical faithfulness, and;
- sober assessments of the options we have for ministry with integrity….
So let us together lift up our hearts – it is not an accident or a disaster that brings us here. God is at work!
The Board of Directors of PFR
Even in the midst of the uncertain future of the PC(USA) we remain committed to the call of our Lord Jesus to “share Christ and his kingdom, beginning in Richfield.”
With obedience, with joy, with confidence, and with hope for the future, we are “centered in Christ, sent in his love.”
The Session of Hope Church
May 12, 2011