Notebook and Pen

Weekly Pastor Update

July 3, 2022

I have been thinking about what it means for me to be part of the PCUSA. Our Presbyterian denomination is the largest and oldest of the many Presbyterian denominations in the US. I have been a member of the denomination for over 50 years in both good times and hard times. 

About the time I became a Christian and a Presbyterian we were celebrating the “reunion”, after 120 years, of the Northern and Southern Presbyterian branches of the church. After a split during the Civil War we finally came back together as one church. I was excited to be joining a community that seemed to be part of a reconciliation movement. During that time we talked lots about being a “big umbrella” church where folks of differing opinions could still be part of one family. 

Over the past few years that big umbrella has started coming apart. Some of our churches have voted to leave the PCUSA and the Presbytery of San Francisco because of some bold decisions our denomination has made regarding sexuality, ordination and marriage. 

I have always thought that staying together and continuing our conversations makes us a stronger, wiser community and a better witness and model of the power of love to the larger community. I think when we stay in the conversation we can move away from who’s right and who’s wrong and find new unexspected wisdom together, maybe even closer to what the heart of God is up to. 

One of the guiding principles of the PCUSA is the idea that “God alone is Lord of the conscience” and that God has endowed all humans with the moral agency to make choices. I like how we respect everyone as a child of God and believe we aren’t the only smart ones in the room. We trust everyone to be able to seek the good and just will of God. That is an amazing gift of our tradition. It’s not easy to do but it is so grace-filled and respectful of the work God is doing in each of us and I think leads us to new found wisdom about the will of God. 

I hope that our little church can seek to be a big umbrella faith community that creates a grace margin large enough for us, and all the other communities that find themselves partnering with us, in this place. I want us to be a strong and wise and loved filled place that is not only a gift to us but an inspiration and model for the greater community around us. 

Blessings and love, Karl


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