In seeking to be faithful and open to God’s continued reformation, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) implemented a new Form of Government in July 2011. With greater freedom and flexibility, the new Form of Government encourages congregations and councils to focus on God’s mission and how they can faithfully participate in this mission. In offering a structure that is more horizontal than hierarchical, the new Form of Government encourages the church to be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as it seeks to be Christ’s body and live out its calling as a community of faith, hope, love and witness. ~ The Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of the General Assembly
Our new Form of Government (nFOG) became effective July 10, 2011. And while it has been welcomed by many in the denomination, others had concerns about it before it was even approved.
Today, three and a half years later, the light of day has shown us that what looked like monsters in the dark were really only trees.
Unfortunately fear (especially the promise of freedom from fear) sells so the fear mongering continues to circulate online and within certain circles of the denomination. This needs to stop. Especially among our elders in the denomination who have vowed to “be governed by our church’s polity” (W-4.4003e) and to “further the peace, unity, and purity of the church” (W-4.4003g).
The continuing promulgation of these fears are what’s damaging to the denomination, not the nFOG.
Even though time is proving the nFOG is not the monster it was made out to be we still want to have a better understanding of the changes that were made.
As a starting point it is essential to read our nFOG through the lens of The Foundations of Presbyterian Polity. Our Foundations of Presbyterian Polity are set out in the first section of our Book of Order and divided in three sections;
- church government
- the mission of the church
- and our confessions/theology.
It is essential to read The Foundations of Presbyterian Polity first because they guide our understanding of what follows in the Book of Order and guard us against mistaking our own hopes or fears in what we read.
I have provided a link to The Foundations of Presbyterian Polity in their entirety. I have also included a link to each individual section in the corresponding parts that follow.
Let’s #StayPCUSA together.