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Denominational Discernment Update

Greetings Good Shepherd Family,

We are continuing in a Season of Discernment regarding the denominational affiliation that best enables us to live out our call to make disciples who Connect with God, Grow in Faith, and Serve in Love. I trust you have been praying for God’s wisdom and guidance for us as we do so.

Last week I indicated on behalf of the Discernment team that we will communicate a clear statement of the process, the timeline, and congregational gatherings related to our discernment. However, things have changed slightly.

At a meeting of the Presbytery of Los Ranchos that took place last Saturday (April 27th) a proposed “Property and Procedures Policy” was introduced. This document represents a “first draft” of a proposed plan to work with churches that are considering re-affiliation.

While this is a significant step in the right direction, the policy does not present a simple, clear formula regarding property issues. A recent General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission (GAPJC) decision known as Tom V. Presbytery of San Francisco has resulted in confusion and ambiguity about how Presbyteries and congregations should settle property valuation questions and how to interpret the “trust clause” in our constitution. As a result we do not have a clear formula for determining these matters at this time.

We believe the formula will contain components of per-capita, mission giving, and some elements relating to the value of the property. Our read is that this will be decided on a ‘case-by-case’ basis, but we do not have clarity from Presbytery on this matter. On May 23rd the policy will be formally introduced to the Presbytery for discussion. A called Presbytery meeting on June 15th is the proposed date for approval (or amending) of this Property and Procedures Policy.

What does this mean for us? We will continue to take the steps that are clearly laid out in this discernment process. These are:

  1. The Discernment Working Party and Session ask you to continue to be in prayer for clear discernment.
  2. The Discernment Working Party will produce a “White Paper” that a) expresses our understanding of the mission and ministry God has called us to, b) describes the inconsistencies between the theological foundations we hold and the shifts within the PC(USA) from those foundational doctrines, and c) explains why we would be better supported in our mission by a different denominational affiliation. This document will be produced by the end of May.
  3. We will have further congregational gatherings to ask for your input to the Session about denominational affiliation. This input will enable the Session to report to the Clerk of the Presbytery of Los Ranchos if we wish to enter the process leading to dismissal to another Reformed body or not.

Dates for these congregational events will be determined and every effort will be made to insure there is thorough publicity for them.

Thank you for prayers as we discern the future God has for Good Shepherd.

In Christ,
Pastor Jim

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