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Denominational Updates from First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen » PCUSA News http://updates.dunellenpres.org Denomination Updates from First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen Fri, 11 Jan 2013 12:17:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5 Highest Presbyterian Court Rules: Believe What You Will, We Won’t Stop You http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=402 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=402#comments Tue, 01 May 2012 19:25:16 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=402 Today the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission (the highest court in the PC(USA), upheld the Presbytery of San Francisco’s decision to approve Lisa Larges, a woman openly living in a lesbian relationship, for ordination as a pastor.

One of the people who brought suit against the presbytery is well known to readers of this blog: Mary Naegeli.

Follow this link to read her summary and response to this ruling.


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PC(USA) Approves Same-Sex Partner Benefits http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=334 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=334#comments Sat, 03 Mar 2012 20:03:12 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=334 Same-Gender Partner Benefits Approved for Benefits Plan of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

PHILADELPHIA (March 3, 2012) – Same-gender domestic partners of members enrolled for coverage in the Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will be eligible for spousal and child benefits, beginning January 1, 2013. To qualify, the member must verify that he or she has a civil license or certificate evidencing a civil marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership, The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) announced today.

The Board of Directors of the Board of Pensions, the Church agency that administers benefits, voted today to provide benefits coverage to same-gender domestic partners on the same basis as it does for opposite-gender married partners. A special committee of the Board of Directors studied various issues surrounding the matter for more than a year following an urging from the General Assembly, the Church’s highest governing body. The General Assembly urged the Board of Pensions in July 2010 to adopt amendments to the Benefits Plan to extend eligibility for spousal and dependent benefits under the plan to domestic partners of plan beneficiaries.

“We’re deeply grateful to the eight directors who came together as a special committee to consider the General Assembly’s urging,” said Thomas C. Paisley, Jr., chair of the Board of Directors. “Clearly, this is a sensitive issue, not only in our Church but across many communities, both religious and secular.”

The Board of Pensions will formally present its decision later this year to the 220th General Assembly, scheduled June 30 through July 7 in Pittsburgh. No further action is needed; the directors’ vote is binding.

Following the presentation to the General Assembly, the Board will begin implementing the plan amendments to ensure coverage of the new participants, effective January 1, 2013.

“The members of the special committee invested more than a year in discernment of this matter,” said Robert W. Maggs, Jr., president and chief executive of the Board of Pensions. “It was a demanding assignment, which they accepted graciously and with the high level of commitment that it required.”

The General Assembly, in urging coverage of same-gender partners, authorized the Board of Pensions to increase employer dues by up to 1 percent to compensate for any rise in costs. The Board determined that a dues increase was not needed at this time, but it will continue to monitor the situation, Mr. Maggs said.

Additionally, because there was no immediate dues increase, the Board of Directors did not design a “relief of conscience” mechanism, which would have freed congregations opposed to same-gender partner benefits from having to contribute to costs tied to that coverage.

In addition to the Board of Pensions, the agencies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are the Office of the General Assembly, General Assembly Mission Council, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Foundation, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Investment and Loan Program Inc., and Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Eligible agency employees receive coverage under the Church’s Benefits Plan.

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An Update on Hispanic Churches in Texas http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=330 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=330#comments Thu, 01 Mar 2012 21:44:05 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=330 Rarely have I been so moved and so saddened. This is written by the one of the Hispanic pastors in Texas who, with his congregation, asked their presbytery for mercy as they chose to reaffiliate with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Note that they did not use the presbytery’s dismissal process, for reasons described in an earlier post.


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Presbyterian Court says Spahr wrong to marry gay couples, BUT… http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=327 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=327#comments Fri, 24 Feb 2012 22:30:11 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=327 The General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission of the PC(USA) issued a ruling this week that held that it was wrong for the Rev. Jane Spahr to have conducted wedding ceremonies for gay couples when it was legal in California. You’d think that this would be cause for celebration among evangelicals. But, what the court gave with one hand, it did its best to take away with the other. It basically said, “We have to rule this way according to the Book of Order, but we still think it should be ok for her to do it. So, please, won’t you change the Book of Order so that we won’t have to do this again?”

Mary Naegeli, as usual, gives a brief but insightful analysis, and points out “In its assessment of what is right, just, or wrong, never once does the Commission use the Scriptures or the Confessions even as guides.”

Read the full article here:


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The PC(USA) 2012: ‘How We Got Here’ http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=318 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=318#comments Fri, 17 Feb 2012 20:21:56 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=318 Carmen Fowler is an outstanding writer with a remarkable grasp of the history of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and reformed theology. She is also the editor of “The Presbyterian Layman.”

This article, although rather long, is a must read for anyone who wonders how the PC(USA) got to the state that it is in today.  Let us know what you think!


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Three historic Hispanic Churches, and their pastors, renounce the jurisdiction of the PC(USA) http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=305 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=305#comments Sat, 11 Feb 2012 19:27:43 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=305 Dear pastors, elders, COM members, staff of Mission Presbytery and all brothers and sisters of the PCUSA,

We, the ssssions, pastors and congregations of El Principe de Paz (Mercedes TX), Iglesia Presbiteriana
Getsemani (San Benito, TX) and Iglesia Presbiteriana San Pablo (Brownsville, TX) greet you in the loving and mighty name of Jesus Christ the Son of the living God, the one and only Lord and Savior. We pray and wish God’s grace and peace upon you.

Through the present letter we are informing you that our sessions and congregations have taken the necessary steps to disaffiliate from the PCUSA. The United States constitution grants us freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. It is under this constitution that our congregations met and have overwhelmingly voted to disaffiliate from the PCUSA. Therefore our sessions, pastors, and congregations have renounced the jurisdiction of the PCUSA…

(The full letter is attached to this post)


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PC(USA) Leaders Urge Hope http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=253 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=253#comments Thu, 12 Jan 2012 20:05:53 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=253 Today elder Cindy Bolbach, Moderator of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), released a letter cosigned by several other prominent leaders in the denomination urging congregations to have hope for the future and to remain together in the PC(USA). The entire letter is attached to this post, but what stands out is the repeated assertion that:

“We believe with all our hearts that perception is not reality, that the PC(USA) has not left its moorings, its commitment to proclaim the living Word of God – Jesus Christ – as revealed in the written word of God, holy Scripture,”  ”The PC(USA) simply has not turned its back on proclaiming Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord,” and “The PC(USA) is deeply missional.”

If this is true, then where is the fruit of this missionality?

Since 1965, as the Presbyterian Church has embraced a more and more liberal approach to the Bible, the denomination has lost more than half of its members. There has been a 20% loss of membership in the last ten years alone to a current membership of 2,016,091.

One way to measure the effectiveness of missionality is by counting adult baptisms. In 2010 (the most recent year from which statistics are available) the fruit of the denomination’s evangelistic efforts yielded 6148 adult baptisms. By my calculations that means it takes 328 Presbyterians to lead one soul to faith in Jesus Christ.

This summer the PC(USA) announced an initiative to plant 1,001 “worshiping communities” in the next ten years. This will require quite a turn around. In 2010 there were a total of 20 new churches planted, 77 dissolved, and 26 dismissed to other denominations for a net loss of 83 churches.

Here’s another way to look at it. In 2010 the PC(USA) had a net loss of over 61,000 members. The membership of an average congregation in the PC(USA) is 191. Those 61,000 members represent the equivalent of 319 average Presbyterian churches.

The truth is that the PC(USA) has left its moorings, and it’s continuing its long, slow drift away from the gospel. These statistics are not the problem. They are just the fruit of a denomination that has lost its way. jThe only hope for this once-great denomination is to recognize and confess that truth, and in repentance turn back to the solid foundation it was built on.

Please read the entire letter and decide for yourself.

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Another denomination breaking ties with PC(USA)? http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=211 http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=211#comments Fri, 02 Dec 2011 19:20:12 +0000 editor http://updates.dunellenpres.org/?p=211 In previous generations American mainline churches were growing and sending missionaries to Africa. Today, African churches are strong and growing, and they are witnessing to us.

It sounds like the Presbyterian Church in Ghana is ready to break ties with the PC(USA) because of the PC(USA)’s distortion of the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality. Read about it here: http://www.layman.org/news.aspx?article=29482

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