Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Not yet ready for Prime Time


In a letter dated 17 September 2018, the Moderator of the Arkansas Presbytery sent a petition to amend the CPC Constitution on matters relating to persons ordained as elders and ministers of word and sacrament with regard to marriage, ordination, and service to a particular church as a session member.  That letter was forwarded by our stated clerk to pastors in the Red River Presbytery.

While discussion began at this year’s General Assembly; this correspondence may accelerate the process.  It will surely be a topic for discussion at the Presbytery meeting this month.

My thoughts are twofold.  First, this petition in its present form is insufficient.  Second, a broader discussion is required before producing an amendment.

To the structure of the proposed amendments:

Why would these not be addressed in 2.6 and 2.7?  If these are criteria for satisfactory service on a session, why not address them as essential to ordination as ministers and elders?

Both may be necessary if this is to go forward.  Addressing only in 4.2 and 7.2 is flawed and will cause issues if the standard proposed is sufficient for self-disqualification but not applicable during the licensing and ordination process.

To intent and syntax:

4.2 

When persons find themselves – Is this intentionally self-disqualification?

makes those persons ineligible to serve as an elder on a session of a church:  Does the elder retain his/her ordination and is he or she eligible to serve elsewhere in the denomination.

7.02

When persons find themselves – Is this intentionally self-disqualification?

makes those persons ineligible to serve … in any of the [aforementioned] relationships on a session of a church:  Does the minister retain his/her ordination?  Are probationers and licentiates retained in their ministry programs?  May they serve elsewhere?

To the unstated but precipitating question:

This general language and the unstated context is obviously about ordaining as ministers of word and sacrament and as elders individuals who are homosexuals and bisexuals and who are sexually active in such partnerships.

These practices are sinful.  If they were not, grace need not be applied.  Read:  We are people of whosoever will not whatsoever goes.  We must minister to this community but not conform to the worldly model that states these practices are no longer sinful. 

The problem with the proposed amendments is that we create our own taxonomy of sin and set aside one group of people as especially sinful.  Yes, the word abomination is powerful.  The death penalty is prescribed by the Law of Moses.

But a stronger word than abomination or detestable is hate.  God hates divorce.  Should ministers who have been divorced disqualify themselves?  They have been forgiven.  They don’t continue in their sin, or do they?  They have not reconciled and been reunited with their original partner.

I understand that this line of thinking is contrary to the nature of our denomination who receive members, ordain ministers, and elders who have been divorced.  But if God truly hates divorce, should we ordain divorced men and women?  Should those already divorced be disqualified from further service should they desire to continue in that condition?

What if they remarry another partner?  According to Jesus, they have moved from their divorced status to adulterer status.  Adultery made the top 10 list, so this does not seem to be an improvement.  Instead of continuing in divorce, they continue in adultery.

What about shacking up?  Is that condition covered in the proposed amendments?  I see so many people these days with a 10-year fiancĂ© who may or may not one day make this a sacred union, but the consummation of the present union is already complete.

What about the obese?  The proverb states that we should be so vigilant here that it would be like holding a knife to our throat whenever we ate more than we could metabolize.  Whoa!  That could thin our ranks (double entendre intended).

But that’s biblical wisdom, not law, and besides the context seems limited to dining in fine company.  So gorging at home is surely not as bad.  In our ordination of ministers and elders do we discount God’s wisdom and apply only those things prescribed by commandment or decree?

But God’s grace covers all of these things, well, except homosexuals who continue to practice?  

Continue to practice seem to be the operative words, until we want to forgive divorce or remarriage resulting in adultery but not the homosexual or bisexual lifestyle.

There should be a higher standard for ministers and elders but placing our own taxonomy on sin creates issues of hypocrisy.  I don’t think we can be myopic on this single issue of homosexuality while ignoring God's other counsel on marriage and produce a quality position on who may serve in an ordained capacity.  We might even have to look beyond marriage if we are to truncate grace with continuing in factors.

Personally, I don’t like the idea of homosexual pastors and elders, but I like even less institutionalizing hypocrisy. 

We need to have a full discussion on this issue before making changes to our Constitution.  The Arkansas Presbytery Petition may have jump-started the discussion, but it is insufficient to move forward in its present state.


The petition should be rejected in its present form and returned to Arkansas Presbytery for revision.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Church Year 2019

I have shared with many that I often do my annual sermon planning in late summer.  The Church year begins with Advent (end of November/first of December) and messages generally focus on this special season.  I have often used the lectionary.  I have preached the Confession of Faith for a year disguised as traditional sermons based on the supporting texts and have worked in the One Month to Live challenge, Paul’s letters, and other thematic seasons. 

First Light has been several years of working our way chapter by chapter through books of the Bible, including Leviticus, Proverbs, and the Psalms.

While I believe the Holy Spirit was at work in these planning sessions; He has also nudged me to change a message or two when the time came.

This Church Year (2018), we have moved topically in the traditional service, venturing into love, love and action, love and peace, and we will wrap up with rest. 

First light tackled Leviticus and then Hebrews, which will wrap up soon.

For the next Church Year, we will begin with Advent scriptures and then continue our topical journey with faith, truth, and mercy.

Next year’s First Light services will focus on Gifts and Gifts of the Spirit.

Some may just want to gather for worship and be surprised by the message.  That’s great.  Worship is truly about what you bring more than what you receive.  Others may want to have a general idea of what’s ahead.  Now you know.

Blessings,


Pastor Tom

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Moderator's Report for the 2018 Elders' Retreat

Moderator’s Report for the Elder Retreat
August 2018

We have been blessed with rain, but still pray for more.  This is Oklahoma.  Summer ministries are complete.  The school year begins to take hold of the community again.  Much is happening in the life of this body of believers.
Please talk with your elders about what’s happening.

Updates
Connecting the Disconnected.  We are still connecting.  We must not leave this as a fall event in which we check the box once or twice.  Connection is the starting point.  Inclusion is the goal.  We must have eyes to see the new faces in the congregation, meet with them, and start to get to know them right away. All should be equipped with gospels and GOD LOVES YOU wristbands.
Chewy Tuesdays was a success.  Pat and Marcee did a great job as coordinators.  Many were blessed!
Backpack Ministry. We gave out 92 backpacks full of supplies and made connections with many families.  The church spent $1000 from its budget and received other donations.  Donations made now help us buy in the offseason.
Online presence.  We continue online with a blog-based website and FB page.  Our FB live is hit or miss.  Church history is back online!  More to follow.
Coffee Talk.   Breaking until the fall.
Building Loan. The loan will be paid off before the end of the year!
Walk A Block for Jesus.  The turnout was average, but we prayed in many places, made many contacts, and had some attend worship the following Sunday.  The WAB came in slightly under budget.
October Presbytery Host.  Kathy Stegall and Robert Wascom are co-coordinators.  Please attend the worship service at 9 am on 20 October.
Food.  We continue to give out food and good news on a regular basis. 
Church Historian.  Carl Hose and Lynn Ferrari have stepped forward and become the new church historians.  I have challenged both to get the stories that make our history come alive. This includes oral and video.  Please help.
Session Clerk.  Pat Stuart has stepped forward to be the new Session Clerk.  We recognized Gene for his service at the retreat.  Thank you Gene Reeves!
Budget.  The FY 19 budget is $149,842.  We are blessed to be a blessing.

Challenges
Worship.  We still need a viable worship committee.
Memory Verses.  We continue these each Sunday but with less fidelity than at first.  They are not being recited in all Sunday School classes every week, and fewer children seem to be learning them outside of the worship service.  This is a matter of efficacy.  This is one way that we change direction in our community.  Let’s re-ignite the memorization fire.  This is God’s word!
2020 – The Year of the BibleAsk your elders about this.
A Time for Children.  A decade ago, the session asked that I do the children’s lesson, so the kids would get to know me.  I think that most of them have come to know me.  I will continue the memory verse with them but would ask that we look for qualified volunteers to do a short children’s message/object lesson.  I have materials but would like someone else to do a special lesson each (or most) Sundays.  Talk with Tom until we get an education committee.
Worship in Drama.  Except for the short dramas that Joe Thompson and I do, this ministry has atrophied due to many reasons, but mostly busyness.  Pray for this ministry. It reaches some that traditional messages do not.
Building & Grounds.  The session is still doing the work of the Building & Grounds committee. We need a viable committee.  Dean McConiha has stepped up to be the committee chair.  Now we need to fill out the committee.
Church Van.  So far, the van (1999 model) is holding up, but we need to plan for the future.
Education.  The session has been only level of oversight on curriculum.  There is no education committee.  Sunday School Superintendent needs to sit in on some classes, especially children and youth.  We need a committee.
Playground Project.  This is stalled again though the concrete is set, and the GaGa Pit is in place (and is being used).  Brian Schneberger leveled the dirt around the concrete base.  The basketball goal remains in the storeroom.  We have had an additional donation of $1500 and perhaps more on the way.
Southeast Corner Project.  This is still in concept phase. 
Reverence.  We are comfortable with each other and in God’s house but sometimes we forget we are to be reverent.  There is a lot of conversation during hymns, prayer time, and other corporate elements to our worship.  We love fellowship but sometimes it overshadows our worship.  (Leviticus 19:30)
Ministerial Alliance.  Pray for all the churches in our community.  The Church of Christ is without a pastor again.    All have challenges.
Security.  Cameras are installed.  Procedures need attention.
Local Benevolence.  We have helped many people this FY—more than all previous years.  We are generous.  With those in this body whom we help, we are extraordinarily generous. We are blessed to have funds to help those in need.  We have met local needs with over $2700 this Fiscal Year.
Connecting Senior Adults and Youth.  We talked about connecting our senior adults with our youth via technology (e.g. kids teaching grandma how to use a smart phone or watch our FB live service at home when they can’t make it in).  We need a champion for this project.


Opportunities
Breakfast for the Teachers.  We have added this as a recurring ministry.
Birthdays.  Larry Walker will remember to lead us to sing Happy Birthday on the last Sunday of each month.
Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home.  We will show some CPCH videos over the next few months. Perhaps the director will speak to us on 21 October.
Gayla Hite Israel Presentation.  Gayla will share pictures and stories of her Israel trip on 29 August 2018.
Children’s’ Choir.  We will seat the elementary school children in the choir section on the last Sunday of this Year.  This may become a recurring thing.


Tom Unique
Summer Routine.  If you don’t see my truck in the morning, stop in anyway.  I probably walked and plan to continue until the weather tells me otherwise.
Nominating Committee.  I am Mission Synod’s representative to the Denominational Nominating Committee and will be absent 1 Sunday each year to meet in Memphis, Tennessee.
Oklahoma Pastors Meeting.  The Oklahoma pastors meet at the Clinton CPC on 19 October (the day prior to Presbytery).
Other connections.  On 11 November 2018, I am preaching at the Marlow CPC.  It’s Veterans Day and the Marine is preaching unity. Service at 6 pm.
Vending Machine.  I am always on the lookout for ways to eliminate the transactional and increase the transformational part of our discipleship as a church. 
Pulpit Supply.  9 September – Gideons.
2019:  6 & 13 January – Rev. Amanda Swint
17 March – Meeting in Memphis – TBD

Monday, August 13, 2018

Feed the Players and 5th Quarter Schedules

FEED THE PLAYERS – 5TH QUARTER SCHEDULE


DATE
FTP
DATE
5TH QTR
23 AUG
CPC


30 AUG
LW
31 AUG
LW
6 SEP
BF FBC


13 SEP
DC FBC
14 SEP
BF FBC
27 SEP
COC


4 OCT
BF FBC


11 OCT
CPC
12 OCT
CPC
25 OCT
LW


1 NOV
COC
2 NOV
COC

Start time for Feed the Players is 6 pm.
Start time for 5th Quarters is immediately following the game.

Notes to churches:


DILL CITY FBC AND GRACE BAPTIST ARE ENCOURAGED TO REINFORCE THE OTHER 5TH QUARTER GATHERINGS.  FEW STUDENTS WILL TRAVEL TO DILL CITY.  MANY WALK, THUSLY ALL 5TH QUARTERS ARE IN BURNS FLAT.

F4 Fall 2018 - Spring 2019

Here is our F4 schedule for the months ahead.

F4 Activity Schedule
Fall 2018

ACTIVITY
NOTES
12 SEP
CLASSES
ORIENTATION IN CLASSROOM – Team 1
19 SEP
CLASSES
Team 1
26 SEP
CLASSES
Team 2
3 OCT
WORSHIP
Team 2
10 OCT
CLASSES
Team 3
17 OCT
DO NOT MEET
FALL BREAK
24 OCT
CLASSES
Team 3
31 OCT
DO NOT MEET
TRUNK OR TREAT
 7 NOV
WORSHIP
Team 1
14 NOV
THANKSGIVING MEAL
TALENT PARADE – Team 2 & 3

Totals:   5 classes              2 worship services                         1 special meal and talent parade

Spring 2019

DATE
ACTIVITY
NOTES
16 JAN
CLASSES
ORIENTATION IN CLASSROOM – Team 1
23 JAN
CLASSES
Team 1
30 JAN
CLASSES
Team 1
6 FEB
WORSHIP
Team 2
13 FEB
CLASSES
Team 2
20 FEB
CLASSES
Team 2
27 FEB
CLASSES
Team 2
6 MAR
WORSHIP
ASH WEDNESDAY – Team 3
13 MAR
CLASSES
Team 3
20 MAR
DO NOT MEET
SPRING BREAK
27 MAR
CLASSES
Team 3
3 APR
CLASSES
Team 3
10 APR
CLASSES
Team 1
17 APR
WORSHIP
EASTER CELEBRATION – Team 2
24 APR
WORSHIP
MEN AND WOMEN (1 & 2)
1 MAY
SPRING FINALE
DRAMAS & MUSIC - All

Totals:   10 classes                4 worship services               1 special meal and activities


Clean Up Teams: 
1 – Men and Younger Elementary
2 – Women and Older Elementary
3 – Jr/Sr Youth

Directions

Directions to the Burns Flat Cumberland Presbyter Church

The Burns Flat CPC is located at 205 State Highway 44.  It is just north and east of the town’s only traffic light.  The zip code is 73624 if that helps you locate us by digital media.

From Oklahoma City (about 1 hr 30 minutes)
Travel west on I 40 until you get to exit 53.  You will exit to the right.  Turn left at the stop sign.  You will go over the overpass.  Continue 6.6 miles.
The church is on the left (East) side of the road.  It is just BEFORE the stop light.

From Amarillo, Texas (about 2 hours 30 minutes)
Travel East on I 40 until you get to exit 53.  You will exit to the right and turn right.  Continue 6.6 miles.  The church is on the left (East) side of the road.  It is just BEFORE the stop light.

From Vernon, Texas (about 1 hour 30 minutes)

Drive North on Highway 283 / 44.  You will come to an intersection at Lone Wolf.  Turn to the right and drive a few miles to the flashing light.  Turn left (North) to continue to Burns Flat.  The church is just north of the stop light on the right (East) side of the road.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Feed the Players and Fifth Quarters for 2018



FEED THE PLAYERS – 5TH QUARTER SCHEDULE

DATE
FTP
DATE
5TH QTR
23 AUG
CPC


30 AUG
LW
31 AUG
LW
6 SEP
DC FBC


13 SEP
BF FBC
14 SEP
BF FBC
27 SEP
COC


4 OCT
BF FBC


11 OCT
CPC
12 OCT
CPC
25 OCT
LW


1 NOV
COC
2 NOV
COC





Start time for Feed the Players is 6 pm.
Start time for 5th Quarters is immediately following the game.
 Notes to churches:

*
DILL CITY FBC AND GRACE BAPTIST ARE ENCOURAGED TO REINFORCE THE OTHER 5TH QUARTER GATHERINGS.  FEW STUDENTS WILL TRAVEL TO DILL CITY.  MANY WALK, THUSLY ALL 5TH QUARTERS ARE IN BURNS FLAT.