Friday, June 20, 2014

General Assembly (2014) #17


A constitutional amendment allowing same gender marriage was approved by the General Assembly with a vote of 429 to 175. It will be necessary for our presbytery to vote on this action and for a majority of presbyteries to approve it before it is added to our Book of Order. In my mind, it is crucially important that the sentence copied here was added and approved also. 

"Nothing herein shall compel a teaching elder to perform nor compel a session to authorize the use of church property for a marriage service that the teaching elder or the session believes is contrary to the teaching elder’s or the session’s discernment of the Holy Spirit and their understanding of the Word of God."

The challenge before us is precisely clear. Can we be one church with two definitions of marriage? I believe we can. I will work for this kind of church. Our ability to do this may be a remarkable witness to the world. 

General Assembly (2014) #16

Pastoral Letter:

June 19, 2014

To congregations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Earlier today, the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved a recommendation from its Assembly Committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues allowing for pastoral discretion to perform “any such marriage they believe the Holy Spirit calls them to perform,” where legal by state law.

They also approved a recommendation to change language in the Book of Order to indicate that “marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.”
Both decisions came with much thought, discussion, and prayer, and clearly the entire body that is the PC(USA) will be interpreting these actions for some time.

Please know that the same triune God in whom we place our hope, faith, and trust in is still in control, and that the assembly’s action today is the result of deep discernment to hear God’s voice and discern God’s will.

We concur with the feelings expressed by Teaching Elder Commissioner Jeffrey Bridgeman, moderator of the Assembly Committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues, during his presentation to the assembly.
“The apostle Paul tells us that ours is, in fact, ‘the ministry of reconciliation’ as ‘ambassadors of Christ,’ and he died for us so that we might be reconciled, that we might become reconcilers,” Bridgeman said.

In this season of both happiness and sadness over the assembly’s decisions, we call on you to remember the overflowing grace and love God gifts us with, and to take seriously our charge to bestow the same grace and love on one another.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,
Ruling Elder Heath K. Rada
Moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014)

The Reverend Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

Ruling Elder Linda Bryant Valentine
Executive Director, Presbyterian Mission Agency