Pastoral Letter of Concern

Posted on Sat, May 14, 2011:

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

 

200 MARROWS RD. BROOKSIDE NEWARK, DELAWARE 19713

 

 

The Rev. John G. Paderson, Pastor 302-738-4331 (office)

e-mail: pstrstandrews@aol.com 302-738-0840 (home)

 302-738-4238 (fax)

 302-220-6470 (cell)

 

May 11, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Friends:

 

It was announced today that amendment 10A has been ratified by a majority of the Presbyteries and will go into effect in July. This amendment removes the requirement in the Book of Order that all ordained officers are to live in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness and replaces it with new language. The change is detailed below:

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 (W-4.9001), 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. Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G.14.0240; 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.

The new language allows churches and presbyteries as a matter of polity to ordain and install officers that are now engaged in sexual behavior outside the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman should a session or presbytery deem such behavior to not compromise a candidate’s ability to fulfill the requirements of the job. The new language will allow for the ordination and installation of sexually active gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals. It will also allow for the ordination and installation of cohabitating heterosexual couples or other heterosexual arrangements that fall outside the bonds of marriage.

The new language however does not and could never change the standards that God has set and revealed in Scripture for the exercise of sexual intimacy. That standard is that sexual intimacy is to be exercised only within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. Any sexual intimacy outside of that covenantal relationship is labeled in Scripture as sexual immorality.

Some sessions and some presbyteries will choose to exercise this new freedom contrary to the expressed will of God as revealed in Scripture. Others will remain faithful to God’s will as revealed in Scripture. It is important to remember though that the new language does not mandate that any session or any presbytery ordain or install an officer that they feel does not live a life worthy of their calling.

This change raises a number of questions and it will take some time for all the questions to surface and be answered. In my opinion when all is said and done the ultimate question will be how to be faithful to God in the face of this change.

I am deeply saddened by this turn of events but not despondent over it. There is no need to be despondent. God is still in charge and will remain in charge. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

I urge all of us to remain calm and to remain faithful to the revealed will of God in this matter. I also urge all of us to pray for the leaders of our denomination, our presbytery, our session, and me as we assess what this all means and what to do about it.

 

Yours in Christ,

 

John Paderson 


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