Greetings from the PSALT Leadership Team!
The Team took a break over the summer, but has now resumed twice-monthly online meetings. They have asked me to bring you some old and new news. Unity is so precious in a divided church. We want to keep in touch with you.
Plans are underway for a conference all day Friday, April 20th, 2018, at Vaughan Community Church, Toronto, Ontario: “Thriving in Babylon: Christian Living in a Secular World”. We are encouraged to already have the commitment of Bruce Clemenger, President of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada as a featured speaker, plus Lee Beach, from McMaster Divinity College, who has written extensively on the subjects before us. Warwick Cooper, Counsellor and Men’s Ministry pastor at People’s Church, Toronto will also address us. Details and registration will soon become available. The next day will be a Renewal Day with the Renewal Fellowship at the same location. The theme will be “Thriving in Babylon: Good News for These Times”, with a lineup of interesting speakers, including John Stackhouse Jr. and David Haskell. Set aside those dates and come for both days!
While PSALT has no formal relationship with the other two renewal movements in The Presbyterian Church in Canada, we want to affirm and encourage the ministries of Dunamis and the Renewal Fellowship. Our memberships overlap of course. Do keep all three in prayer.
You may or may not be aware of details of interest to you in the General Assembly report concerning the Special Committee on Congregations Considering Leaving the Denomination. PSALT exists because we are concerned for the biblical and organic unity of our church. Here is some of that report:
In total, therefore, over a three-year period, 21 sessions and four presbyteries have raised issues touching on either the general theme of gracious dismissal or the unity of the church. Significant concern has been expressed by at least four distinct ethnic minority communities who are part of the blessed mosaic of language and culture within The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
If by “gracious dismissal” we understand provision for congregations to leave The Presbyterian Church in Canada with title to their property and other material assets, we understand that both the Clerks of Assembly and the General Assembly itself have affirmed that such is not presently possible under both ecclesiastical and civil law. The irony of our denomination, which was founded by non-concurring congregations allowed to retain their buildings, refusing to grant similar grace to departing congregations in our own context, was noted.
It is affirmed in some of the overtures to this Assembly that the Clerks have stated that should the General Assembly give a mandate to explore changes which would facilitate a process for gracious dismissal that such could and would be undertaken.
The Committee on Church Doctrine proposes to bring to the next General Assembly a substantial report on the unity of the church. This should inform and assist in the formulation of any policy on gracious dismissal.
There is a risk that defining a framework for gracious dismissal ahead of doctrinal decisions leading to a change in practice may result in a lessening of commitment to maintaining the organic unity of the denomination.
Is it possible within a general framework of Presbyterian polity for congregations of differing theological convictions to be linked together? Might we explore the possibility of non-geographic presbyteries or synods?
So, there you have it – but let’s not leave it there. Your input on these matters is important. Whether you “stay and pray”, “pull away”, or “pull out”, it’s going to be costly in some form. So, there are three things that we ask of you. Firstly, contribute to the current discussions by responding to the General Assembly study materials – perhaps by prayerfully conceiving of and promoting a fourth option that could shape a future Presbyterian Church in Canada, or by further supporting gracious dismissal.
We also invite you to keep in touch with us on this website or on Facebook, so that no one falls through the cracks, becomes discouraged, leaves prematurely, or is out of sync with others who are likeminded. We have strength in unity.
Lastly, (sounds like a sermon!) perhaps you can help us out at PSALT with this one thing: We don’t know how to best reach the pews with the good news of PSALT’s presence and ministry. The Record is no more. Clergy are more easily networked and so while we have voices in most Presbyteries, we need to broaden our base.
On behalf of the PSALT Leadership Team, may grace and peace be unto you.
Jim Statham, Peachland BC