Statement of the Covenant Network Board on Overture 50 (Item 11-05)

Since 222nd GA logo1997, the Covenant Network has worked toward a church as generous and just as God’s grace. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work for access to ordination and marriage for all God’s children, and grateful the church has seen fit to extend that grace and justice these past few years.

We have also held up the unity of the church as a primary value in our ministry. We are grateful for the relationships we have forged with friends from all across the church—people who may reach different conclusions about some matters of faith and life, but with whom we worship the same Lord and love the same church.

At this year’s General Assembly, the Covenant Network will be supporting numerous efforts to affirm LGBTQ people and promote justice and inclusion in the church. We support an effort to strengthen the church’s witness for global human rights, especially those of LGBTQ people around the world. We support an overture that condemns so-called “reparative” therapy as the damaging and dangerous practice that it is. We are fully committed to defending the church’s new constitutional language describing marriage against an effort to repeal it. And we are opposed to overtures that would diminish the church’s ability to discern and implement a meaningful public witness.

But because of our commitment to unity, the Board of the Covenant Network is hopeful that Presbyterians will not support Overture 050 (now designated Item 11-05), which seeks to have the General Assembly issue an “apology” for past actions of individuals and presbyteries and names as erroneous actions that were—and in some cases still are—permissible under the Constitution of the church. We are grateful for voices that remind us to seek reconciliation and healing, but we do not feel this overture will lead to healing. We worry it will further alienate our brothers and sisters in Christ who are committed to remain in the PCUSA even as they disagree with recent changes to our polity on matters of sexuality. From the beginning of these debates, we have stood up for the value and freedom of presbyters and councils exercising their conscience in accordance with the scriptures. We hope one day that all will support ordination and marriage for all God’s children, but we remain committed to each person’s conscience being honored as we move forward together as God’s people.

We agree with the writers of Overture 050 that there is much healing to do. We remain committed to continue our long-standing work for the full inclusion of LGBTQ Presbyterians in the life of the church, allowing the whole church to benefit from their gifts for ministry. We remain committed to seek conversation and common purpose with people who disagree with us about these important matters. We know people on all sides of the issue have been hurt and we trust that God’s grace and faithfulness which has brought us this far will be the balm that heals us further.

Let us worship together, pray together and for each other, listen to each other, love one another, and seek the healing of the church and the flourishing of all of God’s children.

The Rev. Randy Bush and the Rev. Marci Auld Glass, Co-Moderators
The Rev. Brian Ellison, Executive Director

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Comments

  1. Ben Seller says:

    I want to thank you for this. In a world of “eye for an eye,” this is refreshing. I come from a line of pastors/Teaching Elders (I am also one) and have seen the ups and downs of change and conflict etc. The biggest fear I have heard from moderate and conservative clergy in their fear of staying together as the PCUSA is now that the pendulum has begun to sway a different way on some issues that they will pay the consequences. Not the consequences of change around them, but that they will be marginalized, stigmatized or much worse if they don’t always agree. For our church to truly be a big tent, we must allow there to be differences and not “destroy” those with whom we disagree. That is a challenge to all “sides.” The Presbyterians were always the church of the middle way, and I believe your statement is faithful in pursing that end of finding a way gracefully through the waters of ministry together. Bravo to you.

    Rev. Dr. Benjamin D. Seller
    Church of the Master, PCUSA
    Mesa, AZ

  2. Virginia S. Moe says:

    Thank you Covenant network and Dr. Sellers. I sent the following to the Office of the General Assembly and copy it to the Covenant network. I hope everyone writes about this. “I am glad that our Stated Clerk has taken a public stand against the discriminatory law recently passed in North Carolina. This represents the PCUSA at its best. Unfortunately, I am pretty ashamed that one of the event offerings at the 2016 GA seems to be trying to “convert” homosexual people into heterosexuals. Whether or not anyone believes this is possible, the event is published in the Schedule of Events and therefore condoned as part of the GA. This is in direct contradiction to allowing recent acceptance, if churches so choose, of ordination of homosexuals and allowing clergy to perform marriages for homosexuals. Is there a corresponding event showing the other side, for example, trying to convert heterosexuals into homosexuals? This event is a shameful embarrassment. I hope no one attends, and I will keep the General Assembly in my prayers.”

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