As we strive to live like Jesus, love like Jesus, and serve like Jesus, the Joint Board of New Philadelphia Moravian continues to uphold our mission statement: New Philadelphia seeks to be a caring congregation, worshiping God, and encouraging one another to seek a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, as we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in Service and in Mission.
Resolution 14 of the 2018 Southern Province Synod has been the subject of much discussion in the recent months. Resolution 14 allows (not requires) for a same gender wedding to be performed in Moravian churches or officiated by Moravian pastors. It also allows for the PEC to ordain homosexual pastors who are either married or celibate.
There is some debate about Resolution 14, as approved by the 2018 Synod, being non-compliant with the Church Order of the Unitas Fratrum (the governing document of the worldwide Moravian Church). As things stand right now, the action of the Synod is valid. As a member of the Moravian Church Southern Province, our congregation falls under the authority of the Provincial Synod.
The Joint Board has discussed Resolution 14 and has agreed that it is the responsibility of the Board of Elders to determine who is married in our church (or by our pastors), who is received into the membership of the congregation, and who can participate in the rites and sacraments of the church. We will prayerfully consider each request for membership or admission to the rites and sacraments (including marriage ceremonies) as they are made by the individuals who make them. The Board of Elders is also responsible for determining the purposes for which our church buildings and properties may be used. This responsibility was affirmed by Synod.
The calling of a new pastor is a function of the Joint Board working with the Provincial Elders’ Conference. As part of this process, the members of the Joint Board will have the opportunity to share their opinions about calling a pastor who is a homosexual.
People can and do disagree about the scriptural interpretation and understanding of homosexuality; disagreement doesn’t have to cause division- division only happens when we feel that what we disagree about is more important than what we agree about. We agree about the essentials; we strive to have unity in the essentials, liberty in the non-essentials, and love in all things.
As a Joint Board we would like to communicate what we are focused on going forward, and what binds us together. Please prayerfully consider the following words, and help us all focus on the things we do agree about and our continued work in Christ’s name.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans he says ‘May the God who gives you endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’.
Our uniting principal as a congregation is the desire to glorify the Father and the Son. Home is New Philadelphia Moravian Church. We the congregation are New Philadelphia Moravian Church.
When we come for Sunday worship we know we are home; when we greet each other with the welcoming grace of Christ we know we are home; when we share tears of sadness and joy together we know we are home; and when we glorify God together through our missions and community outreach we know we are home. Through trials and tribulations, joy and grief, loss and celebration of new life, remembrances of generations that came before us, and the hope and anticipation of the generations to come, we all know in our hearts that this is home.
We have a unique opportunity to chart our own course for decades to come. The Joint Board is very excited about opportunities we have as a congregation and church to shine in the eyes of God and build on the great legacy and tradition of New Philadelphia Moravian Church.
This is our focus going forward, and we ask you to join with us in these endeavors:
- Source, consider, and hire an outstanding Intentional Interim Pastor who is trained in helping congregations like ours transition from one great Senior Pastor to another. No one will ever fill the shoes of Worth Green. But we have an opportunity to take time to understand who we are as a congregation, where we would like to go in the future, and have a trained professional guide us through a process so WE can define the type of Senior Pastor that will take this Church and our faith ‘onward and upward’ for decades to come.
- The Joint Board is focused on building ‘Generation Next’ at New Philadelphia Moravian. While continuing to care for the current congregation, we know our viability as a church and ability to continue glorifying God rests solely on our ability to bring the next generation of Moravians to New Philadelphia. Those who have gone before us worked hard to allow our families to worship at New Philadelphia, and it’s time for us to do the same for the next generation.
- One of the consistent hallmarks of healthy and sustaining churches is a vibrant and growing Youth Program. The Joint Board considers our investment of time, money, and talents in growing our Youth Program to be a top priority. You will see more specifics about this in coming months.
In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, and in all things Love
Read that to yourself multiple times. We have a motto that should appeal to all walks of life, young and old, believers and those who are seeking their faith, and most importantly it fosters a unique atmosphere of faith and family that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. It’s time to move forward as a united congregation and focus on growing this church, glorifying God the Father, and continuing to build an atmosphere of faith and family that will be the gold standard of the Moravian Church for decades to come. We need you, and most importantly we all need each other.
‘I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me’ – John 17:23