We would prefer the term confidential to secretive. By restricting conversations to the official role we want to instill confidence that things communicated will be understood in whole. Part of the culture of discourse everywhere (not just the PCA) includes an unwillingness to communicate dissenting views with charity. We want to do our best to communicate and receive communication without cutting and pasting pieces of conversations in ways that may distort the speaker. So, yes, we restrict the dissemination of our emails without permission. It’s one way to love the brethren.
[Editor’s note: The following e-mail is being sent to a select number of teaching and ruling elders in the Presbyterian Church in America to explain the purpose of the National Partnership. The text of the email was sent in the name of TE George Robertson]
I am writing to ask your help in preserving and advancing our beloved Church as the gospel-centered, pastoral, missional and reformed denomination our forefathers envisioned. Started by some humble young men who are already great churchmen, the National Partnership seeks to serve our denomination by active engagement in the church courts the Lord has entrusted to us. I have found involvement with these brothers to be spiritually refreshing and ecclesiastically encouraging. Would you honor the effort by signing on? I am forwarding to you a summary of our mission as well as some FAQ’s prepared by James Kessler, our leader.
I will be following up in a couple of weeks to see if you have any questions or suggestions.
The National Partnership’s three goals are simple:
- Greater participation in the Polity of the PCA through church courts. We keep our members informed on presbytery work (including key votes) across the denomination and provide resources for those presbyters seeking advice.
- Greater dedication to the work of the Assembly through preparation, committee participation and floor debate. We seek to staff committees for healthy and effective denominational business.
- Greater love for the Brethren through resourcing and communication. We share ideas and uphold our good faith subscription to the standards, preferring charitable and respectful dialogue over the action of courts in settling theological differences.
Is this a faction? Are you scheming to circumvent the courts?
The answer to this is a resounding NO. The National Partnership is seeking to efficiently use the constitutional means given to us to seek the health of the PCA and her churches. Whereas many have remained uninvolved in committee work and floor debate we are seeking to encourage participation among the more silent majority of our denomination. More than that, we firmly believe that greater participation will lead to greater unity in the PCA.
Why the secretive tone? Shouldn’t we seek complete transparency and an open dialogue?
We would prefer the term confidential to secretive. By restricting conversations to the official roll we want to instill confidence that things communicated will be understood in whole. Part of the culture of discourse everywhere (not just the PCA) includes an unwillingness to communicate dissenting views with charity. We want to do our best to communicate and receive communication without cutting and pasting pieces of conversations in ways that may distort the speaker. So, yes, we restrict the dissemination of our emails without permission. It’s one way to love the brethren.
What am I committing myself to?
An active role in, as we say, grabbing the rope. We want you to be present and active in your presbytery and in the work of the Assembly. We expect those in the National Partnership to participate in the committee work where most helpful and to speak, even on the floor of the Assembly, when necessary. We expect you to share resources that you find helpful and to prepare for the work of the Assembly months in advance with us. There is a concerted and effective minority that does the very same thing. If the majority wants to represent themselves in the denomination it will take work, or the minority will drive us.
What if I have theological differences with others in this group? What if I’m more conservative or liberal than others?
One thing that has made the PCA a healthy denomination is the willingness to be ruled by Scripture. We realize that there will be disagreements about particulars but this Partnership will be committed to charitable diversity where the Scriptures allow it. We are committed to good faith subscription to our Confession as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Bible, and believe that a robust view of the Confession allows disagreement on those points not truly striking at the fundamentals of the system as a whole.
First Presbyterian Church
642 Telfair Street
Augusta, Georgia 30901