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Thursday, June 29, 2006

With a LOUD crash...
By Mary Brown

By a vote of 298-221 (57% to 43% ), the 217th General Assembly of the PC (USA) on Tuesday, June 20th approved an "authoritative interpretation" of the church's Constitution, called the Peace, Unity and Purity report, that maintains current ordination standards for church officers but gives ordaining bodies greater leeway in applying those standards to individual candidates for ordination. It was a sad day for many people involved in the renewal organizations within our denomination. On Wednesday all were invited to gather at the fountain just outside the Civic Center for a time of corporate prayer and repentance.

In the evening we gathered for a joint worship service of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America (CPCA), Cumberland Presbyterian Church (CPC) and the Presbyterian Church (USA). Before worship we were told about the wooden pulpit that was specially crafted and carved for this historic event. The craftsman told us about his labor of love that went into the pulpit. It was three sided with an individual panel for each of the three denominational logos. It was stunning. The Rev. Henry Bradford, Jr. of the CPCA delivered a powerful sermon from behind that pulpit! He told those gathered from all three denominations that "you can't know what Jesus would do if you don't know Jesus." He challenged us to be a real witness for Jesus. He repeated the phrase, "I am one. I am only one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do prevent me from doing what I can do." The preacher talked with passion about being a real witness for Jesus in and against our culture. He said, "A real witness goes against the waves of society", "a real witness will speak out against what is wrong", "a real witness knows when somebody is in the wrong!" at which time he clinched his fist and hit the pulpit. The wooden panel with the Presbyterian Church (USA) logo fell to the floor with a LOUD crash. The audience was stunned. The preacher did not miss a beat and continued to challenge us to be a real witness for Jesus in an environment and culture that seems to not even care what Jesus would do!

Rev. Mary Brown is the pastor of Bethel Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Kansas

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