Statement by the Board of Directors of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians

The Covenant Network Board of Directors expresses its admiration and gratitude for the congregations and ministers who, despite their unhappiness with the actions of the 221st General Assembly on marriage, have resolved to remain part of the denomination. Their presence is a great gift. Diverse views and patterns of spiritual practice keep the church honest and strong; all of us, in all our differences, are “knit together spiritually,” as scripture says, “into a dwelling place for God.”

The proposed Amendment 14-F specifically includes language protecting freedom of conscience for teaching elders and congregations who choose not to participate in or host same-sex marriages. We wholeheartedly support those important protections, which are in keeping with our Presbyterian principles. Indeed, we believe the amendment was greatly strengthened by their addition.

We have heard there is substantial concern among conservative and evangelical teaching elders and congregations that, in presbyteries where their views about marriage are in the minority, dissenting ministers would not be permitted to serve or dissenting congregations would be prevented from calling the pastors they want. As a board and as individual presbyters, we would oppose efforts to exclude persons who are qualified and called for service on the basis of their views about marriage, and we would urge other Presbyterians to join us in this commitment.

                                          ~~The Board of Directors of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians

Comments

  1. Helen DeLeon says:

    I agree. I totally support ordination of people who are homosexual and their rights to marry. I also agree that the consciences of pastors, churches, and sessions should be respected and honored.

  2. I believe that folks of faith can differ yet worship together. It’s a healthy group when differences are respected.

  3. Carolyn George says:

    But those who still disagree with the recent change in ordination standards are still fair game? Why no mention of that?????

  4. Jeff Winter says:

    My strong guess is…..in time local presbyteries will require churches to affirm homosexual ordination and same sex marriages. The same thing happened in the 60s and 70s when churches that had scruples against women’s ordination were required by their presbytery to ordain female elders. How long can people like myself who speak strongly against homosexual expression be a part of the PCUSA without being disciplined?

  5. Tricia Dykers Koenig says:

    I am not sure what Ms. George means by “fair game.” But the Covenant Network has been clear from the beginning about our commitment to upholding the historic principles of freedom of conscience in the interpretation of Scripture, and the duty of mutual forbearance – for our own convictions, and for those who disagree. You are invited to review our archives, where you will find that we have often highlighted that aspect of Amendment 10-A, just as our Board is now highlighting that aspect of Amendment 14-F.

    For example, in the Board’s statement on Gratitude for the Passage of Amendment 10-A: “At the same time, we recognize that Presbyterians are not of one mind about the wisdom of this reform and the interpretation of scripture in matters of sexual ethics. Amendment 10-A permits Presbyterians to hold and respect diverse views. The Covenant Network has always had the unity of the church as one of its primary goals. We therefore will continue to promote dialogue and shared mission across the church. We pray that all Presbyterians may strengthen and support one another, witnessing to the Gospel, promoting reconciliation through Jesus Christ, and working together to realize the reign of God in all creation.”

  6. Rebecca Hamner says:

    I believe we cannot stand as a denomination divided on issues of morality. We cannot sustain this position of simply “agreeing to disagree”. Scripture states clearly that homosexuality is a sin, just as gossip, slander, deceit, and gluttony are sins. The church should be about the business of helping all sinners to repent and experience the joy of forgiveness in Christ. The PCUSA cannot embrace sin and expect members to swallow this action as “diversity”. Are we under the authority of Scripture or not? We must decide. Clearly, the current course of riding the fence on this issue is not working. We are losing members and churches in large numbers. We need to “re-form” our denomination so that our policies are in line with God’s moral law and not the inconstant culture.

  7. Jeff Winter says:

    Tricia….is it really possible for people who affirm homosexual expression and those who don’t co-exist in the same denomination? Does CN believe that some people can actually move out of homosexuality and affirm heterosexuality? How will the PCUSA fully embrace the most marginalized people in America, those persons who are former gays and lesbians? I have found that most Presbyterians are quite ignorant to the fact that some homosexuals actually change. Does CN embrace the possibility of change or do the board members believe real change is an impossibility? Frankly, I can’t be a part of a denomination that won’t affirm the possibility of sexual change. When a person denies the possibility of change they deny the possibility that the power of the Holy Spirit is unable to change someone’s sexual affections.

  8. Tricia Dykers Koenig says:

    I cannot speak for the beliefs of other members of the Covenant Network. Personally, I believe that nothing is impossible with God; and given that God has chosen not to change so many, despite their urgent prayers, I conclude that God does not think that such change is needed in order to live a God-honoring, faithful life. I also believe the overwhelming evidence about the inefficacy of attempts to change sexual orientation, along with the serious harm these attempts can cause. I stand with the vast majority of professional organizations in warning that “‘therapies’ to change sexual orientation lack medical justification and threaten health”: http://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6803&Itemid=1926.

  9. Thomas Fultz, Ruling Elder says:

    Cecil Harvell asks what would Jesus say and I suggest for consideration the words from a PC(USA) Statement on the gift of Christian Marriage, as they reflect the Word:
    “We gather in the presence of God
    to give thanks for the gift of marriage,
    to witness the joining together of N. and N.,
    to surround them with our prayers,
    and to ask God’s blessing upon them,
    so that they may be strengthened for their life together
    and nurtured in their love for God.
    God created us male and female,
    and gave us marriage
    so that husband and wife may help and comfort each other,
    living faithfully together in plenty and in want,
    in joy and in sorrow,
    in sickness and in health,
    throughout all their days.
    God gave us marriage
    for the full expression of the love between a man and a woman.
    In marriage a woman and a man belong to each other,
    and with affection and tenderness
    freely give themselves to each other.
    God gave us marriage
    for the well-being of human society,
    for the ordering of family life,
    and for the birth and nurture of children.
    God gave us marriage as a holy mystery
    in which a man and a woman are joined together,
    and become one,
    just as Christ is one with the church.
    In marriage, husband and wife are called to a new way of life,
    created, ordered, and blessed by God.
    This way of life must not be entered into carelessly,
    or from selfish motives,
    but responsibly, and prayerfully.
    We rejoice that marriage is given by God,
    blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ,
    and sustained by the Holy Spirit.
    Therefore, let marriage be held in honor by all.

    Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (Westminster John Knox Press, 1993) 842.”

  10. Gary Nance says:

    If you are a gay couple who live in a small town where the conservative minister believes you should not be treated as equal members, it is not surprising that gay people would not want to be involved in this local Presbyterian church.

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