Thursday, June 7, 2012

ECO: An Empty Warehouse No Longer

It has been an interesting first year as an ordained minister of Word and Sacrament. I wasn't sure if this time last year I would continue being a teacher in Orlando, FL at Orangewood Christian School (interestingly enough a PCA church sponsored school!), under care at First Presbyterian Church Orlando (who was dismissed the same day in our presbytery to the EPC) or having completed the extra requirements of Central Florida Presbytery, 3 years after graduating from Reformed Theological Seminary, if I would receive a call in the PC(USA). As God would have it, not only I, but my wife also were both ordained on September 18th 2011 after accepting a dual call to Trinity Presbyterian Church in Satellite Beach, Florida last August.

What a year it has been and what an exploration is has been to see the difference between the PC(USA) on paper, the PC(USA) in practice, and the great divergence of application of the constitution between individual churches and different presbyteries. Now, almost a year later my wife and I, still called to this church, find ourselves as members of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians!  At the June 05, 2012 meeting of the Central Florida Presbytery, Trinity Presbyterian Church in one motion and its three pastors, including myself and wife, in a second motion were dismissed without any financial penalty. Our presbytery dismissed us directly into ECO so we are officially the first church and first pastors in this new denomination. (Correction: Apparently we join First Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, already in ECO!)

I must confess that having read about some of the nightmarish situations across the country with regards to leaving the PC(USA) I was so comforted by the way in which our leadership and our presbytery conducted itself. It's a great presbytery! My prayer is that they continue to be able to be that while connected with the problematic issues that plague the denomination on a national level. I must admit that reading about the Santa Barbara presbytery's efforts to become a union presbytery made me jealous and wishing that Central Florida Presbytery had considered the same sort of option. In the meantime, I'm excited to be a part of ECO, and to begin to use more of my hours each week thinking of reaching our local community through Missional Communities and a new service rather than constantly being engaged in arguments over orthodoxy, "listening sessions", the nature of being connectional as Presbyterian and arguments for the various paths forward.

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