The Presbyterian Church (USA) has been putting much effort to reduce tensions over the issues of sexual-conduct standards for ordination and this month, their work will be evaluated at the Assembly as they present their “mid-term” report.
The Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church, created by the 213th General Assembly (2001), is planning to hold a pre-Assembly conference on Saturday, June 26 and introduce the second of a series of video tapes it is producing for Presbyterians, “Seeking Peace, Unity and Purity,” during special sessions on June 27 and June 30 before they meet to give its final report in 2006.
The task force has grown to 20 members and has become an organized community despite theological differences, actively running with the main goal to “lead the Presbyterian Church (USA) in spiritual discernment of Christian identity in and for the 21st century.”
The group meets three times a year focusing on creating intentional gatherings of Presbyterians of varied theological views to discuss divisive issues in the church and try to replicate its experience.
The Assembly assigned the task force — appointed by then-Moderator Jack Rogers and his two immediate predecessors, Freda Gardner and Syngman Rhee — to address the issues of Christology, Biblical authority and interpretation, ordination standards and power.
The task force, co-moderated by the Rev. Gary Demarest of Los Ranchos Presbytery in southern California and Elder Jenny Stoner of Northern New England Presbytery, developed three specific goals for its work:
· Deepen our understanding of our Christian and catholic identity and clarify key themes of the Reformed, theological and constitutional heritage;
· Study and evaluate sources of health and promise as well as the causes of dissension and unrest in the church; and
· Recommend ways for the church to move forward in peace, unity and purity.