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Wednesday Night Study Group Report

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

If you'll remember, the congregation tasked the Wednesday Night Bible Study Group with prayerfully exploring possible directions for our church.

The outcome of those considerations is summarized below on the attached report.  Session approves the study group's recommendation that we remain affiliated with PCUSA.

The next steps are to be determine where we go from here.


Wednesday Night Study Group
Report to Congregation/Session

On October 15, 2017 the church held a Stewardship Luncheon.  After the meal, a discussion was held regarding the state and health of our church.  It was suggested that meetings be held to discuss the future of the church.  It was then suggested and decided that the Wednesday Night Bible Study Group should begin these discussions after the study each week.

Jim Welborn was selected by the group to facilitate the discussion.  The discussions began with the seemingly most import question.  It is a question that had been raised in groups, in hallways and other places.  This question is “Should our church remain affiliated with PCUSA?”  To address this question three areas of discussion were necessary: 1) Remain in PCUSA (possibly merging with another congregation), 2) leave PCUSA and become an independent, non-denominational church, or 3) leave PCUSA and join another denomination.

It was made clear from the beginning that our purpose was to seek unity rather than division.  Group members were on different sides of various issues, but our goal was to discuss all relevant viewpoints with the intent of understanding and seeking unity rather than debating issues.  Each week we began with prayer, praying that the Holy Spirit would guide us.

We discussed each area and quickly ruled out the option of becoming an independent, non-denominational church.  After discussing pros and cons of each of the other options, we determined that leaving PCUSA and joining another denomination required further investigation.  We decided to look at three other Presbyterian denominations (PCA, Cumberland, ECO, and EPC) and ECLA (Lutheran).  We chose these because we felt they would be the closest to our beliefs.

While ECLA is currently in common communion with PCUSA, it is different enough that it was ruled out fairly quickly.  More extensive discussions were held regarding the four Presbyterian denominations.  Members were assigned to research each of the denominations and report to the study group.  We found that each of the denominations held fairly close theological beliefs.  However, each denomination has points in its polity that are acceptable and points that are unacceptable.  It is not felt that any of these denominations would have much impact on our future.

Discussions of the PCUSA revealed that while we have disagreements with polity, we feel comfortable in the denomination, primarily because we are so familiar with it.  The primary disagreement with the denomination is that related to the definition of marriage and the ordination of practicing homosexuals engaged in a same sex relationship.  The primary agreement is that of the ordination of women.  One of the positions of favor in the “Book Of Order” is the notion of “Freedom of Conscience.”  This freedom, and the loosely worded ordinances relating to the definition of marriage and the ordination of homosexuals, allows us as a congregation to follow our own polity and policy.

The study group hereby offers the following recommendations:
1. We as a congregation remain affiliated with PCUSA.  This does not, however, rule out consideration of change in the future.

2. Further discussions be held relating to the future of our church.  Such discussions being led by the session either in private or in public forum.

Members of the Wednesday Night Bible Study:
Jim Adams
JoAnne Adams
Pam Asher
Gene Finlay
Marilyn Haynie
Beverly Hoch
Pat Miller
Carol Nance
Jim Nance
Bob Norton
Loretta Norton
Judy Royal
Ken Royal
Carolyn Smith
Pastor Debbie Spangler
Mike Steinel
Jim Welborn
Linn Welborn