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The session of the PC(USA) congregation I belong to, Trinity United Presbyterian Church, in Santa Ana, CA has requested the Presbytery of Los Ranchos dismiss it to ECO.  In June 2013, after the leadership explained their recommendation, a straw poll indicated roughly 80% of the congregation would like the Session engage the Presbytery in a joint process which could lead to the transfer of Trinity (with property) to another Reformed Presbyterian denomination.  A smaller but sizable number, 177, indicated otherwise.  I was part of this group.

One by one those of us who indicated otherwise began finding each other.  Not all of us share the same reasons for indicating otherwise but we have discovered a common concern that the information provided to the congregation leading up to the straw poll had been one sided in favor of leaving the denomination.  Slowly and informally we began to email, call and meet with each other and eventually formed The Fairness Group in an effort to broaden the perspective on the issues facing our congregation, the Presbytery and the PC(USA).  Many in this group are ordained elders and deacons, Sunday school teachers, and other leaders in our congregation and Presbytery.

You will find a collection of voices and resources being gathered at the Fairness Group website that shine a broader light on the PC(USA) than what the leadership is presenting to the congregation. Yes, there are reasons to be discouraged by what we see in the PC(USA) but there are also many great reasons to be hopeful.

This blog is my personal voice in the conversation.  In addition to sharing my voice I have provided links to a number of resources that have been helpful to me in this discernment process.

As Presbyterians we invest the powers of decision making with the session.  At this point Trinity’s session has done their work by requesting dismissal from the PC(USA) into ECO.  This is one of the rare instances however when the work of the session is not final.  Ultimately, if the Presbytery approves the request for dismissal, it will be up to the congregation to vote as to whether it stays with the PC(USA) or joins ECO as is being recommended.  I believe God’s will is for Trinity to remain within the PC(USA) to be a witness to the world and a strong partner in connectional ministry with Los Ranchos Presbytery and the denomination.

Regardless of how the decisions we make today play out, God’s kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven.  For me, the question is, has the process leading up this decision been balanced, so that when the congregation at Trinity casts our ballots we are as clear as possible about what we are saying “yes” to and what we are saying “no” to.  There is so much more than just a denominational title at stake.

I know there are still people in our congregation looking for others who like them indicated a desire to remain within the PC(USA).  I meet them as I speak up and share my own desire to stay.  They come to me saying they thought they were the only one wanting to remain in the PC(USA).  I assure them they are not.

Eric Christiansen

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