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PCUSA leaders say respect is due, even in disagreement

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    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE From the PCUSA News Service ... October 11,2001 29 former moderators send letter to church decrying rude treatment of Rogers
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 12, 2001
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      CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE

      From the PCUSA News Service

      ---------------------


      October 11,2001

      29 former moderators send letter to church decrying rude treatment of
      Rogers
      Leaders say respect is due, even in disagreement
      by Jerry L. Van Marter


      LOUISVILLE - Twenty-nine former General Assembly moderators have sent
      an open letter to the church decrying the characterization of this
      year's Assembly by some as "apostate" and the rude reception they say
      Assembly moderator Jack Rogers has received so far in his
      moderatorial year.

      It is inappropriate, they said, for anyone to doubt Rogers' faith or
      motives simply because they disagree with him. "We often met with
      those who disagreed with stands taken by General Assemblies or who
      disagreed with us personally," they wrote in the letter dated Sept.
      25. "We urge the church to extend to him the same respect the church
      extended to us during our year as moderator.

      The group called all Presbyterians to "a new level of civility in the
      months ahead as we face what surely will be a difficult vote on our
      ordination standards." Some of the criticism of Rogers has come from
      those opposed to Amendment A - the proposed amendment to delete the
      "fidelity and chastity" requirement from the Book of Order. Rogers
      supports the amendment.

      Only two moderators who have served since reunion - Price Gwynn and
      David Dobler - and three others who served in predecessor
      denominations prior to Presbyterian reunion in 1983 didn't sign the
      letter. Another post-reunion moderator, Joan SalmonCampbell,
      renounced the jurisdiction of the PC(USA) shortly after her
      moderatorial year.

      Gwynn told the Presbyterian News Service he declined to sign because
      he thought the letter was "too preachy."

      Dobler said he has already spoken out publicly against the apostasy
      charge. "But I'm concerned about even-handedness," he added, "because
      there's been excesses on both sides of these issues."

      The full text of the letter:


      Dear Fellow Presbyterians:

      Serving as General Assembly Moderators has been one of the high
      points of our lives. It confirmed our confidence in the thousands of
      faithful congregations and strengthened our appreciation for the
      integrity and vitality of our theological heritage, represented most
      profoundly in the eleven confessional statements in our Book of
      Confessions.

      As former Moderators, we do not agree with each other on every issue
      facing our beloved Presbyterian Church (USA); nor do we agree with
      every action taken by any particular General Assembly. We do agree,
      however, that the form of representative democracy embraced by our
      constitution is a time-tested and faithful way for commissioners to
      discern the will of God and then to vote according to their
      consciences.

      We consequently take strong exception to the characterization of this
      year's 213th General Assembly as "apostate" which some have made.
      These 558 ministers and elders, elected by their presbyteries, joined
      in study, debate, affirmations of faith, prayer, and worship; they
      sought the Spirit's guidance in their deliberations. They provided an
      example of the Presbyterian process of mutual respect, listening, and
      discernment that we hope presbyteries will emulate in the months
      ahead.

      In our travels as Moderator, we often met with those who disagreed
      vigorously with stands taken by General Assemblies or who disagreed
      with us personally. We always welcomed such conversations as
      representing the heart of what it means to be Presbyterian. And we
      remember with thanks that, whenever we were introduced, gathered
      Presbyterians -regardless of their views -would stand as a sign of
      respect for the office of Moderator and of the General Assembly that
      elected us.

      We are therefore saddened that some in our church have assailed Jack
      Rogers, the Moderator of the 213th General Assembly, with comments
      that have questioned his theological commitments and his very
      faithfulness as a minister of the church. Presbyterians must be able
      to disagree without doubting each other's faith or motives. We urge
      the church to extend to him the same respect the church extended to
      us during our year as moderator.

      We call all Presbyterians to a new level of civility in the months
      ahead as we face what will surely be a difficult vote on our
      ordination standards. We hope that such civility will greet not only
      our Moderator but all Presbyterians as we engage in discourse and
      debate. May we together assume in all debates before the church that
      we - all of us - are committed to Christ and are seeking to be
      faithful to the church we love. And may we hold that church, its
      leaders, and all our colleagues in our prayers.

      Supported as we were during our term in office, we trust now that the
      triune God who created, redeemed and sustained us will do the same
      for the Presbyterian Church (USA), that it may be the body of Christ
      and light to the world.

      We join you in continuing prayers for those who have suffered the
      loss of loved ones in the horrible terrorism of Sept. 11, for the
      President of the United States and his advisors as they make
      difficult decisions, for women and men in our military, and for our
      entire nation and world during this painful time. We call our church
      to recommit ourselves to be instruments of God's peace and "the
      provisional demonstration of what God intends for all humanity."
      (Book of Order, G-3.0200)

      Faithfully,

      Thelma Adair, UPCUSA 188th (1976)
      John F. Anderson, PCUS 122nd (1982)
      Dorothy Bernard, PCUS 121st (1981)
      Robert W. Bohl, PC(USA) 206th (1994)
      Pat Brown, PC(USA) 209th (1997)
      John M. Buchanan, PC(USA) 208th (1996)
      Marj Carpenter, PC(USA) 207th (1995)
      James H. Costen Sr., UPCUSA 194th (1982)
      John M. Fife, PC(USA) 204th (1992)
      Freda Gardner, PC(USA) 211th (1999)
      Kenneth C. Hall, PC(USA) 200th (1988)
      Silas G. Kessler, UPCUSA 175th (1963)
      Robert Lamar, UPCUSA 186th (1974)
      William Lytle, UPCUSA 190th (1978)
      Clinton M. Marsh, UPCUSA 185th (1973)
      Sara B. Moseley, PCUS 118th (1978)
      Harriet Nelson, PC(USA) 196th (1984)
      Douglas W. Oldenburg, PC(USA) 210th (1998)
      Syngman Rhee, PC(USA) 212th (2000)
      Howard Rice, UPCUSA 191st (1979)
      Isabel Rogers, PC(USA) 199th (1987)
      Jule C. Spach, PCUS 116th (1976)
      David L. Stitt, PCUS 120th (1980)
      J. Randolph Taylor, PC(USA) 195th (1983)
      William P. Thompson, UPCUSA 177th (1965)
      Herbert D. Valentine, PC(USA) 203rd (1991)
      Benjamin Weir, PC(USA) 198th (1986)
      William H. Wilson, PC(USA) 197th (1985)
      Albert C. Winn, PCUS 119th (1979)

      Send your response to this article to pcusa.news@...



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