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March 12, 2008: San Diego Presbytery

A hodge-podge of results from last night's presbytery meeting that may be of interest to others.

1. Disapproving the nFoG

Last night, San Diego Presbytery approved a resolution proposed by the session of Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church. It read:

The Presbytery of San Diego resolves to,

I. Urge the 218th General Assembly to vote to not approve the new Form of Government Task:

1. Foundations of Presbyterian Polity
2. Form of Government
3. Advisory Handbook for Councils for the Development of Policies and Procedures Required by the Form of Government; and,

II. Dismiss the Form of Government Task Force with our thanks

Simple. To the point. "Thank you, no."

It is a resolution, not an overture; thus, it is not something that commissioners are going to have to handle. It is a statement intended to be persuasive. The rationale is available here (begins on page 7 of the docket material; page 9 of the pdf).

To repeat something that I have written previously, considering an alternative sometimes makes you appreciate what you already have. The nFoG is a very different approach than our current Form of Government. The Task Force that produced it worked hard and faithfully to produce it; even so, that is not the standard for evaluating whether it should be approved. Their hard work should not be taken for granted. However, the deficiences and problems apparent in the nFoG highlight the strengths of what we have.

2. San Diego Presbytery Affiliates with Presbyterian Global Fellowship

As part of the Way Forward Work Group report, San Diego Presbytery approved the recommendation to affiliate with Presbyterian Global Fellowship. (Recommendation #4 on page 1 of the pdf.)

There is a much longer story that goes with the WFWG (pronounced locally as "Woof-Wag" -- with the unfortunate visual image of the tail wagging the dog). The short summary is that San Diego Presbytery is working to "be the church here." That sounds simple, but as the overall decline of mainline denominations attests, it is anything but simple.

We are looking at being a missional presbytery. There is profound-yet-subtle difference in the paradigms between understanding that we are "sent" here, contrasted with "being here." For many of our congregations, we have been praying that God would raise up and bring people to us. The missional presbytery is a "sent" presbytery; that is, we are to be going outside of the walls of our campus.

3. San Diego Presbytery Approves "What We Believe" (the shorter catechism)

Another part of the same report involved approving "What We Believe," a shorter, family-friendly version of the Essential Tenets and Reformed Distinctives document.

From the introduction:

The Presbytery of San Diego in June 2003 adopted a summary of the “Essential Tenets and
Reformed Distinctives” for use in our churches, committees, and presbytery. “What We Believe”
is an attempt to make more accessible that summary of our core beliefs. It has been written
in response to Recommendation 3 of the Task Force on the Way Forward’s Final Report, dated
November 2006. “What We Believe,” which combines the 2003 document’s six essentials and
seven reformed directives into eight summary statements, is commended as a tool for teaching,
training and evaluation.

It is our hope that ministers, elders and deacons who’ve answered “Yes” to the ordination question quoted above will welcome this briefer statement of our foundational convictions. Both “What We Believe” and “Essential Tenets and Reformed Distinctives” are intended by the Presbytery to be reviewed and updated periodically.

Let's face it: 12 pages with color pictures is a whole lot easier to read than 31 pages of text. In conversations about what it meant, it was consistently described in function as a "shorter catechism" version of the larger Essential Tenets. This is not to say we have equated them with confessional documents in the constitution; rather, these are resources designed to begin the conversation of what we believe and, as it says, for "teaching, training, and evaluation."

That's about it from last night.