Sunday, October 15, 2006

Pittsburgh Presbytery at Hamilton: E. Reflective listening about property

The the meeting of Pittsburgh Presbytery on October 12 at the Hamilton Presbyterian Church we had another experience of reflective listening. (At the previous meeting we had done something like this to discuss issues about the Peace, Unity, and Purity report.) At this meeting we talked about issues of church property.

Pastor Jim Mead acknowledged that elsewhere in the denomination there were churches seeking to leave. He said that in Pittsburgh Presbytery there were no congregations working on leaving, and that in fact there were congregations unsettled by the PUP report who were working on maintaining their participation in the PCUSA.

When we arrived at the meeting one of the papers on the table was a guide for our reflective listening exercise. It asked three things:
In the event Pittsburgh Presbytery needs to make decisions about church property, some things I pray we keep in mind are:
- these things about mission:
- these things about our relationships in the presbytery:
- these things about presbytery's fiduciary responsibilities for property in support of its mission:

In small groups of three we shared our answers to these questions, then Pastor Mead gave us the opportunity to share with the whole Presbytery something we had heard (i.e., not something that we had said) that we felt the whole Presbytery should hear. It seemed to me that there were not as many people who stood to share what they had heard as had spoken at the last meeting. One statement that was shared with the whole Presbytery that has stuck with me was: "Jesus changed the world and owned no real estate."

There will be another Discernment Gathering at the Presbytery Center on November 14 at 7 PM.

In other business affecting church property, the Council reported that it has referred an overture on per capita for study to its Finance Committee. The proposal is one that would amend the Presbytery Manual so that the Presbytery would forward to General Assembly and Synod only so much of the per capita as the Presbytery receives from its congregations. Although the Council did not report the specific language of the overture, the proposal as described would be an irregularity. The fact that other presbyteries are already failing to follow the Book of Order would not make it any less illegal for Pittsburgh Presbytery.

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My other articles about this meeting: A. Welcome B. Worship with Ben Freudenburg C: Ordination overture D. Vocational matters E. Reflective listening about property F. Awards and honors

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