Nary An Unpublished Thought







January 17, 2008

Trust? What Trust?: How San Francisco Presbytery doomed the proposed Form of Government

The other night's decision by San Francisco Presbytery to certify Lisa Larges as a "candidate ready in all respects" to receive a call -- thereby opening the door to her ordination and installation as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) -- put to rest any lingering doubts that the proposed Form of Government is doomed to fail.Why?Because it is the perfect illustration of why:
  1. choosing ambiguity over clarity
  2. on the basis of trust
  3. in the current environment
cannot work. To be fair, last night's decision also may signal doom the current Form of Government; but we will have to wait and see how things turn out on appeal. However, the regulatory character of the current Form of Government is a result of these kinds of issues -- the Form of Government did notcreate or lead to it.Based upon what I have read (so no first-hand knowledge here), there is no real disagreement on the facts. So far as the reports have indicated, Lisa Larges did not argue that she is eligible for ordination on the basis of G-6.0106b; rather, the presbytery determined that G-6.0106b is not an essential part of the Book of Order, and she is eligible for ordination even though her behavior is in non-compliance with the Constitution.In other words, "Yes, the Constitution is clear and she is ineligible -- but so what? Yes, we made promises at ordination to be governed by the church's polity and to abide by its discipline; we promised to further the peace, unity and purity of the church -- but so what? If we do not want to apply it, we will not apply it."More ambiguity and less clarity is not going to bring a resolution to behavior like this. Nor is it likely to generate a more "missional" mindset going forward. It is much more likely to invite more challenges, more regulatory actions, more efforts to re-litigate settled issues.In the meantime, be prepared for a flurry of resolutions from other presbyteries condemning the action of San Francisco Presbytery, declaring that San Francisco Presbytery has broken fellowship and the peace, unity, and purity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).