Note: The final vote tally on Amendment 14-F was 121 presbyteries in favor and 47 opposed, with one tie, one voting to take no action, and one not reporting.
The Covenant Network of Presbyterians is grateful that with today’s presbytery votes, a majority of the 171 presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (USA) have approved an amendment to the church’s Book of Order that describes marriage as “a unique relationship between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.”
The change aligns the church’s constitution with a reality that has long been true: Both same-gender and opposite-gender couples have been living in relationships that demonstrate covenant faithfulness, shared discipleship, and mutual love. We rejoice that all couples can now see those relationships solemnized before God and the Christian community in marriage, at the discretion of ministers and sessions. Presbyteries will continue to vote on the amendment over the next few months, and the change will become effective June 21, 2015.
“With the positive vote on Amendment 14-F, our denomination steps forward into a new chapter – one that values our past journeys of faith, respects the importance of pastoral discretion in congregational matters, and yet offers to the world a compelling witness about how God’s grace is active in loving, mutual relationships,” said the Rev. Randy Bush, co-moderator of the board and pastor of East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA.
The Covenant Network is grateful for the many faithful Presbyterians across the theological spectrum who have carefully sought to discern the best way forward for the church on marriage matters. We are also aware that the discussion has been a difficult one for many, and that some will feel a deep sense of pain over this decision. The Covenant Network is committed to fostering healthy dialogue and working with those who hold a view different from ours, seeking opportunities for us to model an authentic and productive unity. We continue to affirm that ministers or sessions whose conscience precludes them from officiating (or hosting) same-gender marriages should not be compelled to do so or in any way disciplined or excluded for those views. (See our statement here.)
As an organization, we are deeply committed to helping the church live joyfully and peacefully into this new and more inclusive day. Our national Covenant Conference will focus on these issues this fall, with dates and location to be announced soon. We are in a season of discernment about the goals and objectives that will guide our work in the coming years and look forward to sharing more in the next few months.