A Day to Celebrate – 1/08

A Day to Celebrate:
A Statement by the Executive Committee
of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians

January 16, 2008

The 217th General Assembly that met in Birmingham, Alabama offered the church a significant gift when it approved the report of the Peace, Unity and Purity Task Force. During the debate, former Moderator Marj Carpenter said that after years of fighting and decades of division, the question before the church was, “Is there room for grace?”  That General Assembly urged the church to find ways to live together more peacefully despite deep disagreements. Aware that church conflict most often gets located in questions of ordination, the General Assembly reminded the church of a long-standing tradition. Ordination standards are set by the whole church. They can neither be ignored nor supplemented, but are to be applied to individual candidates in light of the whole person.

We are grateful that the Presbytery of San Francisco heard this reminder and has worked to apply it faithfully. When faced with a specific candidate, Lisa Larges, they sought to apply constitutional standards fully and appropriately. Though not all may agree with the decision that was rendered, we hope that all will agree that this historic, ordered approach will best serve the church as it continues to struggle with controversies.

We also celebrate this week with Lisa Larges.  She has been an inquirer or candidate for ministry for twenty-two long years, waiting patiently for her gifts and call to be affirmed while the church fought its battles.  She has preached at national conferences including our own, and her extraordinary gifts for ministry are recognized around the country.  On Tuesday, January 15th, she was examined by San Francisco Presbytery and found ready to receive a call.  The presbytery responded to her stated departure from G-6.0106b and her call to ministry with a civil debate and a positive vote.

We have a long way to go as a church to be as just and generous or as bold and missional as the church God needs and desires.  The church has not solved its division over sexuality and ordination.  But yesterday it took a modest but significant step forward.

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