Please Vote: Constitution and Canons Update

Dear PCA friends,

I greet you in the name of the Historic Jesus and the Cosmic Christ.

Your Progressive Christian Alliance Leadership Council has been hard at work strengthening our Progressive Christian Alliance Community. In the current spiritual environment of our nation and world, a strong Progressive Christian witness is needed. We are experiencing a response to this need by the number of people God is calling into ordination through our organization. This is very exciting to us and we are sure that you share our excitement and our commitment to meet this need.

We are very pleased and grateful for the 501©(3) designation we have received from the IRS. This designation gives us the official status needed to begin the process of requesting acceptance of PCA ordination as valid clergy designation to apply for chaplaincy certification. In the process of making the chaplaincy certification application we discovered that there were some needed refinements to be made to our Constitution and Cannons. Your leadership Council has been at work several months working to revise our Constitution and Cannons to meet those requirements. We have labored to make sure that the document stays true to the spirit our founders intended and that the vision of the Progressive Christian Alliance remains clear and unchanged in this revision. It is very important that we make this revision in order to be able to receive certification for chaplaincy designation for our clergy.

We are sending out this draft copy of our revised Constitution and Cannons for your review, comment, and vote. Thank you for giving it careful consideration to provide a basis for strength as we move into the future. There will also be a Survey Monkey that will be posted in order to allow you to vote on the revision.

Thank you for your time and prayerful consideration.

The Rev. Dr. R. Lawton Higgs, Sr.

Chair, PCA Leadership Council

Constitution and Canon Update 14May2017 (PDF)

Please vote using Survey Monkey below. Voting will close on June 14, 2017.
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Leadership Council Meeting Minutes – March 2017

Hi Friends,

We hope that you all had a very blessed Easter! Here are the March 2017 meeting minutes.

Mar2017-PCA-LC-Minutes

As always, if you have any questions, please contact us.

Blessings,

Rev. Gina

Leadership Council Needs Interim Treasurer ASAP

Dear PCA Friends,

We are so grateful that our former treasurer J.T. Ramelis filed successfully our application for a 501©(3) status with the IRS. We are pleased now to be operating as a 501©(3) tax-deductible, nonprofit religious organization. Since that time Mr. Ramelis has resigned from the Leadership Council as our Treasure. The Progressive Christian Alliance is in need of a PCA volunteer to serve as Treasurer on our Leadership Council, a person who has experience managing the finances of a 501©(3) nonprofit, tax-deductible organization.

We would appreciate anyone in our Progressive Christian Alliance connection who knows a person affiliated with the PCA or, who would like to serve in that position themselves, to make a nomination or self-nomination, to serve in the role of Treasurer. Please submit a short résumé for yourself or the person nominated to the Progressive Christian Alliance Leadership Council for our consideration to be appointed to serve out the term of J.T. Ramelis.

The following is the job description for the Treasurer for The Progressive Christian Alliance detailed in the proposed changes for our Constitution and Cannons:

Leadership Council Treasurer Responsibilities 
1. Manages finances of the organization.
2. Administrate fiscal matters of the organization
Provide annual budget to the council for members’ approval.
3. Ensures development and council review of financial policies and procedures.
4. Provides monthly financial statements to council members and, upon approval by council members, to PCA membership.
5. Maintain records of donations by membership both individual and congregational and provides end of year tax statements to all who have donated.
6. Prepare and file all IRS tax forms related to 501(c)3 status. 7. Use software to track all income, expenses, etc.
8. Serves a three (3) year term and may not self-succeed into same position. 9. Cannot concurrently chair another committee.

Thank you for your prayerful response. Please send nominations to higgslawtonsr@gmail.com.

Grace & Peace,

Rev. Dr. R. Lawton Higgs, Sr.

Chair, Leadership Council

04/07/17

 

The Alley Family needs your help!

Progressive Christian Alliance ministers Sheldon and Amanda Alley just recently lost their home and all of their possessions to arson. From their YouCaring page:

“We are devastated to have to tell everyone our home was deliberately burned to the ground. For the immediate future thanks to generosity of family we do have a home with basic furnishings and appliances. But this will be temporary. We lost everything. Furnishings and appliances and all basic household things. Even more so we lost all our sentimental items spanning our lifetimes. We have lost various irreplaceable heirlooms, all of Sheldon’s mementos from his time in the Marines, my wedding dress that my daughter wanted to use, my engagement ring, most all our children’s baby photos and keepsakes, our children’s special toys, our Bible collections, our extensive book collection, our special signed books of people we admired, numerous sentimental childhood items, our church supplies including ordination chalices, stoles, etc. It has been ruled an arson and the State Police investigating. Unfortunately because we were buying our farm through a land contract we do not have any insurance on the home and we didn’t foresee the need to get insurance on the contents of the home. We are going to rebuild as soon as we are financial able because we are still making payments on the property. This was our dream farm. This was our slice of heaven on earth. Our early years in ministry was spent in parsonages. We saved as much as possible and invested our life savings into the farm and home. Our ministry focuses on Veterans, PTSD and Domestic Violence support. With this most all the people we serve are unable to support us financially. We have managed to support ourselves through small scale sustainable farming over the years. Due to the events of the vandalism and harassment leading up to the arson we will not be able to farm as effectively this year. Our children are having a difficult time with the situation. Our youngest two have never known any other home. This will be one of our toughest trials but we will recover. We have a wonderful network of family, friends, and colleagues. Anything you do to help will be greatly appreciated.”

Their YouCaring page is here, and there is also more information there if you would like to contribute in other ways. If you can’t contribute financially, please spread the word so that they can get as much help as possible.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the whole Alley family during this time.

The Leadership Council

January and February Leadership Council Minutes

We apologize for the delay in posting these and thank you for your patience. The following PDFs are the approved meeting minutes for January and February.

The Leadership Council will not be meeting in April due to the Easter holidays. Our next meeting will be May 8, 2017.

We hope that you all have a blessed Easter!

Jan2017 PCA LC Minutes

Feb2017 PCA LC Minutes

What Does It Mean to Be a Progressive Christian? – by Dr. Lou Kavar.

What Does It Mean to Be a Progressive Christian?

I sat with a small group of colleagues one Saturday to engage in the discussion.  We describe ourselves as “Progressive Christians,” but we wondered:  what does that really mean?  As expected, there were a wide range of opinions and insights.

It helps to know that all the members of the group have been engaged in ministry for a couple of decades each.  The group is diverse:  African-American, Korean, Japanese descent, and Caucasian women and men.  We each have very different theological education but we all agree that the traditional theological categories make little sense today.  The traditional categories we learned represent social contexts and understandings about life that are no longer held today.

For example, the foundation of much of Christian theology was articulated when people believed that Earth was the center of the universe and that humanity was the height of God’s creation.  Today we know that Earth is a minor planet in the far reaches of the universe and circles an ordinary star.  In addition, we understand that the ages of humans as the dominant creature characterizes this geological era, but there have been other era and other dominant creatures. Also, homo sapiens are only one species of humans in the genus of human beings.  In other words, the understanding of the human context in the universe has changed.  As Progressive Christians, we recognize that our understanding of God must also change.

As a group, it was easy for us to affirm that Christianity is but one wisdom and faith tradition that holds truth for human living.  It’s the tradition of which we are part, but that doesn’t make it better or worse that other paths, like Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, or Islam.

We also agreed that the essential importance of Christianity is found in the teachings of Jesus as a moral and ethical guide to living.  Throughout the teachings of Jesus, major themes are quite clear:  carrying for others, giving of self, and treating those marginalized in society with deep respect are hallmarks for what it means to be Christian.

As I thought more about this, it struck me how essentially different Progressive Christian is from the very popular American Evangelical Christian understanding of Christianity.  Among American Evangelicals, salvation in the after-life is more important than anything else.  Salvation is achieved by asking Jesus to come into one’s life and heart.  The funny thing about this Evangelical concept of salvation is that it’s not something that can be found in the teachings of Jesus.  Instead, the teachings of Jesus were real life and practical.  It’s pretty clear in the Gospel attributed to John, where Jesus is recorded as saying, “By this will others know that you are my followers:  by your love for one another.”  Even in the Gospel attributed to Matthew, the final judgment at the end of time is based on what people did for others.

I think that the faulty foundation of American Evangelical Christianity has resulted in Evangelical Christians holding positions that appear to be askew from the Biblical tradition and life in the twenty-first century.  American Evangelicals believe that Jesus was born to die for the sins of the world and so that individuals can go to heaven. If that’s true, then essentially everything that happened between his birth in Bethlehem and the cross of Calvary has not merit.    Instead, as is the practice of Evangelicals, a person can simply ask Jesus to save you and it’s all good.  There’s no need to do the difficult work of putting oneself in second place and put those in need ahead of my interests.  If a person isn’t bound to follow the mandate of Jesus to care for our neighbors as exemplified in the story of the Good Samaritan, then there’s no need to root our prejudice from one’s own life.

For me, as a Progressive Christian, what’s fundamental for being a Christian is striving to embody the way of life Jesus taught.  It’s not about pie-in-the-sky-when-we-die.  Instead, it’s the realization that God’s realm is here and now. As a Christian, it’s critical for me to live in a way that’s rooted in the care of others, our planet, and those who will come after me.  After all, that’s the way of living taught by Jesus.  In the end, my colleagues came to the same conclusion.  It’s that which makes us Progressive Christians.

What’s most important in Christianity?  Going to heaven or treating people well on Earth.

(Photo credit: the Italian voice via Foter.com / CC BY)

© 2017, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.

Membership Proposal Q&A #1

Hello Friends,

Since the Membership Proposal that was posted earlier is going to be a big change for the PCA as a whole, we are having a 30 day comment and suggestion period. Since a good deal of questions have already come through both on Facebook and from our mailing list, I will be collating the questions and posting these Q&A posts weekly until the comment period is over.

If you have questions, feel free to comment here, on Facebook, and through the mailing list.

Here are this week’s questions:

  1. General question from several people: “I’m already ordained, do I need to go through the ordination process again?”
    1. No. Already ordained clergy will be grandfathered in and only required to pay the yearly dues ($10) and get a new background check if they haven’t done so in the last year.
  2. From Ford Frazar: “Where do we get a PCA stole?”
    1. We haven’t been able to find the original supplier, but we are looking for an alternate one. If anyone knows where the original stoles came from, please send that information to the LC.
  3. From Deborah Hill: “Would PCA be an Association of Professional Chaplains (BCCi) approved endorsing body?”
    1. Not yet, but our Co-Chair, Beth, is now working on the documentation to make us so. This was one of our first priorities after completely the 501(c)3 process. Please keep an eye on our website for updates.
  4. Jim Tarvid asked about the minutes as legal documents, and “990’s”
    1. This is J.T. Ramelis, Treasurer: As of right now we are not required to file a Form 990, as per our 501c3 Approval letter. If that changes, I will certainly file a Form 990.
  5. Jim also wondered if $10/mo is enough, and about the clergy roster.
    1. Re: Dues: We welcome suggestions of what you think would be a reasonable rate. We intentionally were keeping rates low since the clergy business doesn’t exactly make one rich. Also, we are planning to eventually have ordination scholarships for those in financial hardship.
    2. Re: Clergy Roster: Unfortunately, there was some document loss in the last few years between changing of boards, and our current records are incomplete. The online roster was also not a complete record of clergy, since the online listing was voluntary. We are hoping that with this process we’ll be able to have, and then maintain, an up to date roster of all PCA clergy.
  6. From Antinoë Magdalene on Facebook: As an ordained Wiccan priest, would I be a layperson or affiliated clergy? Or, is the affiliation only for other Christian denominations?
    1. Since the PCA is a nominally Christian organization, the affiliation process would be for other ordained Christian denominations. As a Wiccan Christian, however, you can get your Christian ordination through the PCA.

Again, if you have more questions, please feel free to comment at the places listed above, or through our contact page.

Thank you for your questions!

Rev. Gina

Councillor-at-Large

Leadership Council Meeting Minutes September-November 2016

Hello Friends,

We apologize for these minutes being late, but here they are in PDF format. If you have problems reading these files, please post a comment and we can send you another version.

Note: The Leadership Council did not meet in December due to the holidays. We hope that everyone had a wonderful Holiday season!

September Minutes: PCALC-23SEP16

October Minutes: PCALC-28OCT16

November Minutes: PCALC-15nov16

Proposal for Membership Definitions and Yearly Dues

The Progressive Christian Alliance is an international, transdenominational association of Christian ministers, ministries and laypersons.

We are a diverse fellowship inviting others to share in our common spiritual journey while walking our unique and sacred pathways. We believe that following Christ’s example means working for social justice and hospitality to all people, especially those who have not found hospitality elsewhere, and a heartfelt, thoughtful approach to being in relationship with God.

We exist to provide support and love, direction and shared experience, encouragement and constructive engagement, in our mutually shared journey to celebrate a progressive sacramental Christian faith.

The Spirit is calling us to strengthen our relationships with one another as Progressive Christians and to establish clearer definitions of our loving and just relationships.  The Leadership Council is feeling lonely.

We don’t know our ministers, ministries and lay people well enough. We have developed a document outlining a plan to remedy our isolation and to connect us in a way that will enable a stronger right practice of Christ’s example (orthopraxis) of social justice and hospitality to all people, with a heart felt thoughtful approach of being in relationship with God.

This document is entitled, “Proposal for Membership Definitions and Yearly Dues.” We are posting it here on the PCA website and on our Facebook groups and pages for your consideration and refinement.  After extensive grassroots discussion and clarification the Leadership Council will place the final version up for a vote to include it in the PCA Constitution and Cannons. The Leadership Council celebrates the Progressive Christian Alliance and each and every one of our ministers, ministries and lay people. We request your prayerful, thoughtful responses and love as we move forward with this work of faith.

 

Rev. Dr. R. Lawton Higgs, Sr.

Leadership Council, Chair

Progressive Christian Alliance

January 10, 2017

Timeline for commentary:

  • Thirty days for general commentary and suggestions. Deadline is February 18, 2017.
  • Two weeks for editing and consideration of suggestions by the Leadership Council: Deadline March 4
  • 30 Days for general commentary and vote for implementation: Voting would end April 3.

Click on the link below to read the entire proposal (PDF and should be viewable on most computers.)

Membershipdefinitionsproposal-10jan17

Exciting News! (501c3 Update)

The Leadership Council is excited to announce that we are now an official 501(c)3 organization! This opens up a lot of opportunities for our members and the organization as a whole. The Leadership Council is very excited, especially since this status opens us up as a body for sponsoring chaplains, having regular convocations, and being able to do more to support ministries! (This also means that any contribution you make from here on out is tax deductible!)

We’d like to particularly thank our treasurer, J.T., for his heroic feat of paperwork filing that made getting 501(c)3 status not only possibly, but fast!

Thank you all for your support while we went through this process, and we will be grateful for your continued support as we move forward!

Many blessings, and Happy New Year from your Leadership Council!

R. Lawton Higgs, Chair

Beth Beyer Abbott, Co-chair

J.T. Ramelis, Treasurer

Fred-Allen Self, Secretary

Gina Pond, Councillor-at-Large