Toward a church as generous, just and truly inclusive
as God’s grace
Mission and Purpose
- by working for the unity of the church, seeking understanding and reconciliation, listening to voices long silenced, and fearlessly engaging in conversations for the sake of faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ;
- by furthering the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) persons in the church; and by joining with others seeking a still more just and inclusive church;
- by offering prophetic witness, developing theological resources, andcultivating partnerships for learning and action.
The Covenant Network of Presbyterians is a broad-based, national group of clergy and lay leaders working for a church that is simultaneously faithful, just, and whole. We seek to support the mission and unity of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in a time of potentially divisive controversy. We intend to articulate and act on the church’s historic, progressive vision and to work for a fully inclusive church.
We seek to live out the Reformed faith found in Scripture and our confessions, and in our life together to follow the principles laid out in the Call to Covenant Community. We strive to proclaim and embody the gospel as we have learned it from the life and ministry of Jesus; we affirm the centrality of the Bible in our church; and we value the dynamic tension between unity and diversity. The Call to Covenant Community has been affirmed by more than 20 former Moderators, more than 3,000 ministers, 2,000 other officers, 300+ sessions, and several presbyteries.
Covenant Network was founded in August 1997 to support the passage of Amendment (97)-A, the “Fidelity and Integrity” Amendment, intended to give sessions and presbyteries more discretion in discerning God’s call for ordained office on particular people, within clear biblical and confessional standards.
Amendment A was not affirmed by a majority of presbyteries in voting during the winter and spring of 1998. Consequently the former “Amendment B” remained in the Book of Order, Part I of the Constitution of the church, as G-6.0106b. Although the amendment failed to pass, 46% of the votes cast in presbytery meetings that year favored Amendment A.
Covenant Network led three subsequent efforts in the presbyteries to delete or change G-6.0106b, via proposed Amendments 01-A, 08-B, and 10-A. Amendment 10-A was approved by the presbyteries, and went into effect as G-2.0104b in the summer of 2011.
The Covenant Network’s appeal to the “broad middle” of the church has attracted support from across the denomination. Its founding Co-Moderators were Robert Bohl, Pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas and Moderator of the 206th General Assembly, and John Buchanan, Co-Pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago and Moderator of the 208th General Assembly. Its Board of Directors and Board of Advisors include distinguished pastors and theologians from all parts of the country, united in their determination to keep the church from either enshrining a narrow orthodoxy or splitting over non-essential matters.
Covenant Network’s Longstanding Program Commitments
The Covenant Network works for needed change through active programs of resourcing, networking, and advocating. We are committed to helping the church stay together in faithful ministry, even as we continue to study the Scriptures and seek the mind of Christ on the question of ordination standards and other matters. In addressing a broad range of theological, biblical, pastoral, and ecclesiastical matters facing our church, Covenant Network
Articulates a traditional, progressive, mainstream vision of the Presbyterian Church through publications, scholarship, and conferences;
Organizes local Covenant Network chapters for study, prayer, mutual support, and attention to church polity;
Participates actively in our General Assemblies;
Provides moral and legal support and counsel to officers and sessions challenged by church policies and discriminatory attitudes; and
Works for needed changes in the church.
In the fall of 2015, the Covenant Network Board of Directors, in conversation with leaders throughout the church, has re-committed to our historic mission of seeking a church that is inclusive and affirming of LGBTQ people. So we will:
- Articulate theological and biblical foundations for justice and inclusion toward the end of continuing to live into being a church that truly welcomes and affirms all people;
- Reach out in love and humility in intentional conversation with those with whom we disagree, building relationships that lead to transformation;
- Develop and share educational resources for discussion and formation throughout the PCUSA;
- Advocate vigorously for matters of inclusion and justice at General Assembly.
In addition, we are committed to seeking new ways to strengthen the church, working for a church that more fully demonstrates God’s justice and reconciliation among all people. So we will:
- Offer support and leadership in conversations with global church partners about situations in need of deeper mutual understanding;
- Embrace and promote the Belhar Confession, ensuring it powerfully and relevantly guides our common life, especially on matters of unity, justice and reconciliation for all people, including racial/ethnic persons;
- Develop new practical congregational/individual resources for the present day (including liturgies, conversation guides and helps for congregational leaders);
- Convene conversations with partners that lead to action.