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A Letter from the Pastor to Presbytery

Seeing Through the FOG
March3, 2011

In just over two weeks our presbytery will hold a special meeting for the single purpose of voting on whether to approve a new “Form of Government” as part of the PCUSA Book of Order. The Form of Government’s rather ironic acronym FOG belies its intent to be the place where church policy is made transparent. The proposed new version is a significant change to our Book of Order, designed to provide a more flexible polity, while retaining current core church standards. In reducing the number of national rules for numerous things related to the work of presbyteries and congregations, it requires that presbyteries and congregations develop instead their own manuals to create local policies where there used to be specific national directives.

Because of the significant effect this new FOG’s adoption would have on each congregation and presbytery, the Council joins me in urging you to be sure to read the new FOG carefully and prayerfully, and to discuss it with one another. And if you are a minister member or elder commissioner, please come to the March 19 meeting to cast your vote.

The following websites will greatly assist you in your preparation:

Last fall I invited the Moderator of the 219th General Assembly, Elder Cynthia Bolbach, to come to visit us during one of our presbytery meetings this year. It turned out that the date on which we have a presbytery meeting and on which she is available to visit us is March 19, so she will be present for this special meeting. She comes not as advocate for the new Form of Government, but as Moderator of our General Assembly. I urge as many of us as can to come to our meeting scheduled for 9:00 AM on Saturday, March 19, at Hiland Presbyterian Church to meet our Moderator, as well as to be present for our conversations about the new Form of Government, even if you are not a voting commissioner.

It has been suggested that the biblical keystone of Presbyterian polity is 1 Corinthians 14:40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” (KJV) If our current Form of Government has helped us make sure that everything runs “decently and in order,” the new Form of Government seeks to make it more fully possible to “let all things be done.” Of course, we need both, not either/or. Let us pray and hope for the Spirit’s guidance as we approach this most significant vote.

That Christ’s church may flourish,

The Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge, Pastor to Pittsburgh Presbytery

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