This past Monday, an ad hoc group of 22 teaching and ruling elders sent an Open Letter to all commissioners of Presbytery and to the Joint Solution Teams who are working with the three churches considering leaving Los Ranchos, beyond the 10 churches that have already left.*
In addition to the elders, all three teams of Council (Generative Catalyst, Strategic Coordinating, and Trustees) have endorsed the letter. On March 26, the Council itself will also have the opportunity to consider the letter.
The letter shares the signers’ convictions about our Presbytery’s future with regard to church property. Candie Blankman from San Clemente in a message to her session summarizes the contents plainly,
This letter says, if you read it carefully, that the signers believe that enough churches have now left so that there are places/churches for folks who want to leave to go to. If they want “like-minded” fellowship, there are now several options for them in the Presbytery. But for the folks who want to remain in Los Ranchos and if a distinctly PC(USA) ministry presence is to continue in these locations, the signers of this open letter believe that the remaining properties are critical [to hold onto] for that to happen. But I also know the folks who signed and wrote this letter would rejoice if folks determined that the value of staying together is greater than the value of the issues that have led to their leaving.**
Since the wider distribution of the Open Letter, I have received several inquiries to which I would like to respond.
1. Is this a new policy?
No. The letter is written for information purposes only and is solely intended to inform the Joint Solution Teams (JSTs) and the Presbytery of its signers’ convictions. It does not in any way alter the Revised Property Policy and Procedures that our Presbytery approved on November 20, 2014 or the openness with which we will debate these convictions as the letter works its way toward our May Presbytery Gathering.
2. Does this undermine the process of the JSTs?
No. The JSTs will proceed as designed.
What the letter does, in a thoughtful and timely manner, is provide the JSTs with more information to consider in their deliberations.
Other persons and groups, especially of a dissenting mind, are encouraged — in the spirit of fostering open dialogue — to offer their views, either in a counterpoint open letter or on the floor of Presbytery in May.
3. Why did you sign the Open Letter?
First, I agree with the content of the letter.
Second, I believe that in the life of an organization like the Church, there are critical times, defining moments, when a leader is led by his or her conscience to take a public stand on a controversial issue. To me, this is such a time. It’s that important, in my opinion, to the future of our Presbytery for the reasons stated in the letter itself.
I believe God has called us to bear a unique Reformed witness to the world, for which I am eternally grateful and committed. In return for this privilege, I endeavor to offer my witness with every bit of energy, intelligence, imagination, and love that the Spirit engenders within me, and I invite others to do so as well.
As always, let us stay constant in prayer for each other as we steward the gift of new life that we find in Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace to you,
*As you may recall, “commissioners” are minister members of presbytery and ruling elders appointed by Sessions to attend Presbytery meetings and to vote on matters that affect our Presbytery’s ministry and mission. Joint Solution Teams are commissioned by the Presbytery to bring Joint Solutions to the floor of Presbytery for its consideration. Joint Solution Teams are constituted by equal numbers of “Presbytery Representatives” and “Congregational Representatives.”
**Used by permission