Covenant Network Board celebrates progress at the 219th G.A.

Statement by the Board of Directors of the
Covenant Network of Presbyterians
July 10, 2010

The Covenant Network of Presbyterians is grateful that the 219th General Assembly voted to continue the progress made by the last two General Assemblies toward a more gracious and welcoming church.

The General Assembly voted to send to the presbyteries an amendment setting higher ordination standards that do not arbitrarily exclude a whole class of  church members.  We have seen steady movement toward acceptance of God-given gifts for congregational leadership and service.  We will work to help presbyteries continue this progress.

By a two-to-one margin, the General Assembly voted to uphold the process adopted by the last two General Assemblies that permits presbyteries and sessions to consider individual candidates’ life and faith along with any specific “departure.”  And it rejected an effort to reinstate obsolete statements about “practicing homosexual persons” that were removed by the 2008 General Assembly.

Although this General Assembly chose not to discuss the pressing issue of pastoral discretion with respect to changing civil definitions of marriage, it did commend for study reports from the Special Committee on Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage.  The Covenant Network looks forward to engaging in conversations about the meaning and role of marriage and its value in same-gender couples’ faithful lives.

In line with the demand for equal civil rights and benefits that the PC(USA) has urged public and private employers to extend for more than thirty years, this General Assembly approved providing equal benefits for same-gender partners of PC(USA) employees and for these couples’ children.  The Covenant Network applauds this first step toward a recognition of the equal worth of all  who serve Christ in the Presbyterian Church.

As several of these reports and amendments make their way to the presbyteries, we invite all Presbyterians, especially those who disagree with us, to pray and study with us as we struggle together for the Gospel.

Comments

  1. Rev. Andrew Davis says:

    Thanks so much for your hard work at GA!

  2. The camel called the PCSUA is getting smaller and the load is getting heavier. Now is not the time to push or add to any more that load.

    At seminary, I started out a liberal, but I wasn’t as liberal as I thought. Those of us who thought we were basically okay and otherwise just going about minding our own business were quickly and regularly badgered as to our many insensitivities toward women, gays, and people from other cultures. I may have been a Christian and Presbyterian, but unfortunately, I was also tall, white, and male. Constant reminders of a privileged status (one I did not personally experience) were regularly held before me as support why I could not have a legitimate non-progressive opinion. I was white and male, and therefore a benefactor and contributor to an oppressive system that I empowered by simply breathing and attending classes. That also made me a target for correction by others. There were always those who were more liberal than me or more completely progressive than me, and they felt perfectly justified in picking specks out of my eyes whenever they pleased.

    I admit, I had plenty of specks to pick at–still do–but I have been working them out of my eyes and system for the past 25 years in the ordained ministry. Yet somehow it’s never quite enough. There always seems to be someone–or some new group of someones–who have moved the sensitivity bar up another notch or two while I was busy talking about Jesus. Here’s the thing: while I don’t think my speck-picking correctors are any better or worse Christians than I am, I don’t feel particularly responsible for mythical systems that neither I, nor my parents, nor my grandparents had anything to with. And yet, I’ve taken my lashes out of dutiful respect for the church and in the belief that unity must prevail. We are better together than apart, I keep telling myself.
    
But at what point does sensitivity work the other way? At what point do the progressively-sensitive ones acknowledge the feelings of conservatives and evangelical Presbyterians? At what point will The Covenant Network and all of the similarly-minded, church-based, gay-advocacy groups take a step back because their forcefulness has pushed down their conservative sisters and brothers? Does there come a time when conservatives get to point out the speck in the collective progressive eye (We’ll not mention that from our point of view it looks like quite a plank) or is the reality that your brand of sensitivity is necessarily unilateral; progressivism or nil. It seems as though you are perfectly happy to be an inflexible coup on the path to becoming a tyranny of speck-picking progressivism.

    Sensitivity has to work both ways if we are to remain united. Pushing gay ordination and gay marriage over the top will deeply offend the conscientious, biblical worldview of too many of your brothers and sisters. If it happens, the PCUSA will lose more people and funding than can be accounted for by any previous movement. You might not care, but you certainly ought to.

    It may be clearly within your power to strangle the whole PCUSA into legislative submission, but at what point does your collective conscience twinge at having overplayed your role? Is it possible for you not to do so? Do you who constantly cry out for mercy on behalf of others not have mercy to give to those you’ve pushed?

    To the Covenant Network, et. al., I request kindly on behalf of your less-liberal remaining Presbyterian sisters and brothers: cease and desist, lay off a bit, coast a little–just enough for your present activism to be absorbed by the straights. Let the 2012 GA go unmolested. Mercy. Stay your hand. Don’t strike the killing blow.

    This camel needs a breather. It is smaller and weaker than it was in its youth and its back is heavily burdened. Please help keep the final straw off of it.

    There now: we’ve asked politely. Show us how sensitivity works both ways.

  3. Bonnie Boyce says:

    Noel,
    Sounds to me that you are living up to your accusors assessment of your theology. I do not think the Covenant Network is forcing this issue. I think it is the conservative agenda of keeping an entire group of folks out of ministry before they have even been seen, heard or evaluated for service that is pushing this issue. Jesus stood for the “least of these” and so must we. I so appreciate those who worked for these changes and bringing us into the 21st century and more open and inclusive ways to love our neighbors and all God’s people.

  4. JOHN R. THOMPSON says:

    I honor and appreciate those who hold that homosexuality is a sin and who want to emphasize in the Church the importance of ethics and morality. But I also know homosexual persons who are also upholding ethics, integrity, and morality and only want to join us in that effort.

    For over forty years my conscience has been compromised by the PCUSA position in its constitution…… I now ask my brothers and sisters in the PCUSA to exercise their forbearance and when “b” is changed to ordain all persons whose Presbyteries see as “fit” then I expect them to live with the tension in their conscience as I’ve had to do for years. I’m asking my brothers and sister in Christ do no more than I’ve had to do for years. God bless you and bless us all as we try to do God’s Will!

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