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Ordination standards questions and answers

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A summary of the 219th General Assembly’s action on ordination standards:

What did the Assembly do? What has changed?

The 219th General Assembly (2010) proposed a change to the PC(USA) Constitution regarding ordination standards by a vote of 373-323-4. This action does not change the Constitution. It is a first step in the process. A majority of the 173 presbyteries would have to vote in the affirmative to approve the replacement by July 2011.

What does it mean?

G-6.0106b is a provision in the PC(USA) Book of Order (Constitution) that provides the following standards for persons ordained as church leaders (deacon, elder or minister). The current version reads: “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.”

The 219th General Assembly (2010) recommends deleting the above provision and replacing it with the following language: “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; G14.0450) 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.”

This proposed change would focus ordination examinations on the individual calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability of candidates for the responsibilities of the office, in joyful submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life.

What’s next?

Presbyteries will study this recommendation and vote over the course of the next year. If a majority of the 173 presbyteries approve the change, it will replace the previous provision in the Book of Order. The deadline for presbyteries to vote is July 10, 2011.

Where can I get more information?

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  • "Chastity" and "fidelity" issues in the context of the Book of Order are important considerations for Christians; but I believe the new language would obviously include these concepts without putting more emphasis on them than we do on any other "sin" when we consider people for positions of leadership. After all, we all are sinners. and by the grace of God through Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Let the individual accept his forgiveness from Christ and go forth to sin no more.
    by george anderson on 07/19/2010 a.m.31 10:28am

  • The PCUSA General Assembly, guided by humanistic social scientists, not the word of God, fulfill scripture. You've intellectualized the common sense morality God wrote on our hearts. (Romans 1:21-32, KJV) "...when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. PROFESSING THEMSELVES TO BE WISE, THEY BECAME FOOLS, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man... Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." Do you wonder why our denomination is in decline? We've created a mensa-like psuedo-Christianity where no one's feelings should be bruised by the truth. We've intellectualized sin out of our church. Listen to Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Our God has written His laws on our hearts. He gave His Son as a sacrifice to burn His law into our hearts and provide for our salvation. We should not disgrace our Lord by updating, editing and modifying God's truths to ease our conscience and avoid the unpleasant task of calling a sin a sin and correctly leading our brothers to the "narrower gate". Homosexuals are entitled to salvation through repentance and welcome to seek salvation within our congregations. They must not be ordained unless they repent and give up the homosexual lifestyle. Jesus said "go and sin no more" (John 8:11) to the woman accused of sexual infidelity. Shouldn't we follow Christ Christ's example? Give your MINDS and hearts over to God.
    by Douglas Hancock on 07/18/2010 p.m.31 05:26pm