Sunday, September 26, 2010

Letter from the Santa Barbarians

And now, since you have all been waiting so anxiously, the response from the Santa Barbara Presbytery as to whether or not they will let me attempt ordination through them:

Dear Charles,

I am writing in response to your email of September 19, in which you informed me of the decision of your session to withdraw their support of your coming under care of the presbytery, and in which you asked for my opinion on whether the presbytery would entertain taking you under care if you came to us with support from another church. I informed you that I would take the matter up with the Committee on Preparation for Ministry (CPM) for an answer,

The committee met on September 23 and discussed your question at some length. In addition to your email, we had information which I obtained from a personal meeting with the Word of Life Session, and with Pastor Ron Urzua. I believe I/we received the same basic information from all three sources. Specifically, the session is unwilling to endorse you for possible ordination to the ministry of Word and Sacrament because you consider an active gay lifestyle to be an acceptable expression of righteous behavior according to the teachings of scripture and our confessions. The session disagrees with your theological position on this matter, and considers it important enough to constitute a disqualification for ordained office in the PCUSA. We understand that this decision has been disappointing and hurtful.

I have gone into the above detail because I wanted to be sure we all agree on the basis for your session’s decision, as you are asking, in effect, if the presbytery would come to the same decision. The committee’s answer is based upon the assumption that we all agree on these facts. If that is not the case, our answer may not adequately address your question.

Based upon the above, it is the opinion of the current CPM of this presbytery that we would consider your theological position on this matter to be outside the bounds of Reformed theology as we understand it in light of Scripture and our confessions. We would refer you specifically to sections 4.087 and 9.47 of our Book of Confessions, and Chapter G-6-0106b of our Book of Order. There are a multitude of scripture passages in support of these references.

Having said that, we must express our reluctance to make such a statement to a brother in Christ with whom we are not in close relationship. Our entire life as believers is to be lived within a particular expression of the body of Christ. It is within that context that we come to know Christ, ourselves and each other. Word of Life is that body for you, and we encourage you to hold close to it and not abandon that relationship. Scripture tells us that “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, and deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” (Pr 27:5-6) We pray that you will devote sufficient time and energy to discern whether your church – those closest to you in Christ – may be your best friend in this matter.

In Christ, and for the committee.

Robert Farrow

Clerk of the Committee on Preparation for Ministry

Presbytery of Santa Barbara

Basically, they do not want me to seek ordination, lest I profess my heretic, and more importantly disgusting, theological stance with people that might consider me to be some kind of authority on the subject in the future should I in fact become ordained. The email doesn't exactly answer my question though, does it? Very tricky...

1 comment:

  1. Oh Charles, I am so sorry there are such hateful people in this world who profess to be Christian. I am even more sorry to hear they are Presbyterian!