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May 14, 2010

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Paul Becker

While I appreciate the call to prayer for the staff and ministries who are affected by the budget posture of the GMAC, I can't help but think that something is being ignored. This statement sounds like it comes from a pack-a-day smoker who makes the decision to begin the discipline of training after decades of sedentary living and yet failing to even think about stopping the smoking habit.

I am expressing an intuition. Words and clarity will come.

Michael W. Kruse

Sorry Paul. I don't understand what you're saying.

Paul Becker

Michael,

Thank you for your gracious answer. As I look to the GA this summer and consider what is said on this video, here is what I was sensing:

At this point of the decline of the PCUSA, the strategic planning process is a technical solution that does not get at the dis-ease in the PCUSA. Hence, my analogy of a pack-a-day smoker who wishes to improve his health markers by choosing to exercise while continuing to smoke. Technically, exercise will help a smoker but in the long-term it won't.

Linda Valentine believes that the strategic planning process and budget manipulations will bring long-term viability. I don't share her cause-and-effect thinking and optimism.

The million dollar question is this: What would constitute our smoking habit? I would say that because of our inability to say or receive "No" as an answer we choose instead to light up debates. These debates have irreconcilable conclusions. Topics include the atonement, ordination standards, marriage, political statements, etc. Our debates are done in closed quarters, ignoring the voice of the global church. The smoke generated by our debates is inhaled by all. As the left, right and center of the PCUSA inhales, we experience the nicotine buzz of self-righteousness. The tar-like residue of our debates is a barrier to the life-giving Spirit that Christ breathes on us. Our debates ruin the taste of what God is doing. And to the rest of Christ's church, we stink. Yet, we choose to exercise and keep our pack-a-day habit.

Does this further cloud what I am trying to convey to you? ;-)

Michael W. Kruse

Paul I think I get a better understanding but I think you are also misunderstanding the role of the GAMC.

If I said, "Just as presbytery is to congregation, and synod is to presbytery and congregation, so _____ is to synod, presbyter and congregation." What goes in the blank? It is the General Assembly, not the General Assembly Mission Council. We are not a governing body. We are an agency of the General Assembly. The six agencies of the General Assembly are:

Office of the General Assembly
General Assembly Mission Council
Presbyterian Foundation
Presbyterian Board of Pension
Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program
Presbyterian Publishing Corporation

While all six work cooperatively with each other, they ALL answer directly to the General Assembly.

In many other denominations we would be known as the Board of National and International Missions. We execute the mandates given to us by the General Assembly within the policies and procedures they establish. We oversee national/international mission that happens at the denominational level and we work cooperatively with synods, presbyteries, congregations and individual Presbyterians to enhance the mission they are doing. We are not governing body. We do not debate the atonement, ordination standards, or marriage. We make only the political statements that are authorized or mandated by the General Assembly.

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