Yesterday I left my house at about 1:15 to drive about seven miles to the Pittsburgh Presbytery office. My appointment was at 3:05. No, it doesn't take almost two hours to get there, but with my luck so far with this ordination process I figured I'd run out of gas, get stuck in a huge traffic jam, and spill coffee all over my button down shirt - all at the same time. You see, this meeting was the most important meeting of the whole three year process. I was to read and defend my statement of faith. On the way there I did get stuck in traffic on route 28, but I still got there about 40 minutes early. That was fine with me.
The CPM meeting was running right on time... until the woman before me went in to defend her statement of faith. Apparently they slaughtered her. What was supposed to be a half hour time of questions in regards to her statement turned into a hour and ten minuntes. She left the meeting not being certified and probably not able to easily re-enter the process for ordination. This after probably 3 or 4 years of work to get ordained.
When I entered the room I felt at ease. I was nervous sitting in the waiting room for an hour and half, but not once I got in front of the 30 or so people ready to nit pick the possible heretical wholes in my statement of faith. I said hello and read the statement. Interestingly a man from Memorial Park was the most intense questioner. As you may know Memorial Park is my home church and has voted to leave the PCUSA. There were some good questions about baptism, infant baptism, whether baptism was required for salvation... things like that. They also asked how I would tell a person who never heard of Jesus who he was. That was an interesting question. I answered it from a contextual point of view and said I'd have to listen to her story, get to know her, and then be witness to the good news that Jesus wants to do in her life. I also said it'd be important to explain some basics about the incarnation and present reality of Jesus all around us - wanting to know us and save us from sin and injustice.
So, in reality, the questions weren't too bad. I did an ok job answering them all. At the end they asked me to leave the room, they voted whether I was ready to be Certified Ready to Recieve a Call to be a pastor in a PCUSA church, then sent one person out to bring me back in. After explaining a few details to me about actually reccieving a call they applauded and sent me away. I'm now certified ready to recieve a call to a PCUSA Church.
I think I'll stay right where I am for now. Who knows at this point if the New Church Development Commission will be able to call me to an ordained pastoral role here or not - I won't worry about it. There is so much ministry to be done here. I don't need the Rev. title to continue what he's doing here at the Open Door.
Here's the statement that I read yesterday. I tried to keep it pretty orthodox but also give light to my personal theological bents.
I believe Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. Jesus was and is fully human and fully divine. Through the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, all humanity has the opportunity to partake in the Kingdom of God. Jesus died on a cross, taking with him all the sin of the world. Through the victory of the resurrection, Jesus lives today and has opened the gates of heaven for all whom he chooses. I believe in Jesus as the second person of the Trinity, and the person by whom we come to know the fullness of the triune God.
The Father is the person of the Trinity to whom Jesus prayed in the gospels. Through the words and actions of Jesus, we come to know and understand more completely the fullness of the relationship between Christ the Son and God the Father. Through Christ’s incarnation we are united with the Son and therefore invited to participate in the relationship between the Father and the Son. We can therefore ourselves call God “Abba, Father”, as Jesus does.
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is actively at work bringing about the Kingdom of God through the Church. The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, through the Son, is the active working of the Trinity here on earth, bringing salvation to those whom Christ has chosen and sanctification to those who are saved. The Spirit invites us to a relationship of reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ and propels us to seek reconciliation with others in response to Christ’s gift of forgiveness and grace.
The Trinitarian community of God invites humanity into community with one another and community with God through the work of Jesus. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate persons and yet are eternally and inseparably bound together as one God.
The church is God’s community, which consists of people who are reconciled to God and being sanctified through the Holy Spirit. The Church works for the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. This community is ever growing by making the Good News of Jesus Christ contextually relevant to all the people of the earth that they may become part of the church and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The church works for justice and peace and in so doing invites all people to enter the Kingdom of God and worship God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Christians are invited to worship God through all that they do and specifically through communal prayer, praise, the preaching of the Word and the participation of the sacraments.
These sacraments are the real spiritual working of God’s grace in physical form. Through Baptism and the Eucharist, followers of Jesus experience the grace and real spiritual presence of God in the setting of communal worship.
Baptism signifies the death of one’s self for the purpose of being made alive in Christ. Through Baptism, the community of faith acknowledges God’s salvific work in the life of an individual. The water of baptism signifies both the death of the individual and new life through the washing away of sin. Because baptism is not an expression of our works, but a symbol of God’s choice to save us through God’s grace, infants, as well as children and adults, can be baptized and welcomed into covenant community of God.
The Eucharist holds the truth of the sacrifice of Jesus’ body, mind, soul and spirit. By participating in communion followers of Jesus participate in the death of Jesus and show acceptance of Jesus’ death for the forgiveness of sins.
The Word of God, Jesus Christ, is made known through the scriptures. The Bible is the living and inspired book of God’s community which reveals the truth of God to the people of God. Through proclamation of The Word, the Holy Spirit works to teach, convict, comfort and compel. Through the scriptures, the community of believers comes to know the story of God and learns to place their lives into that story.
Jesus preached the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is the present manifestation of Jesus’ work on earth in which we are called to participate. The Kingdom involves the redemptive work of God in all creation. Through the saving power of Jesus Christ, the kingdom will one day come in all its fullness, at which time we will proclaim that God’s will has “been done on earth as it is in heaven.” The church is propelled from communal worship into the world to proclaim the kingdom of God and be witnesses to the saving work of Christ.