The Presbyterian Panel results that were originally to be released in late Spring, 2006 -- prior to the 217th General Assembly -- have now been released. Jack Marcum, of the Presbyterian Panel, wrote a memo on May 30, 2006 outlining the reasons for the failure to meet the original release date.
Two things seem particularly interesting to me:
1. More respondents in each of the 4 groups -- members (52%), elders (50%), clergy (49%), specialized clergy (46%) believe that Peace, Unity, and Purity differ in importance than feel they are the same in importance (30%, 32%, 42%, 38%). Of those who saw differences in importance, the elders ranked them with purity as the most important, followed by peace and unity. Specialized clergy had unity first, followed by peace and purity. In addition, majorities of members, elders, and clergy disagreed with the statement that it is worth giving up purity to get peace in the church.
2. On the statement "A Church that is not clear about what it believes is not worth belonging to", members (67%), elders (65%), and pastors (62%) agreed or strongly agreed -- sizable majorities. A plurality of specialized clergy (47%) were in agreement with that statement.
All in all, it seems that regardless of what particular stance is taken, a significant majority of all respondents agree that the PC(USA) needs to be clear about what it believes, and it appears that purity is not to be sacrificed even to bring about peace. The deep divisions on many of the questions indicate that unity is not a possibility at present.
My question is can we find ways to work together peaceably on the things that unite us, while holding the denomination together? Or will we hold our Mission hostage to our need to have our own way?