Ruling Elder Ben Fitzgerald-Fye tells of his experience as a married gay man speaking during the debate on Amendment 14-F in the Presbytery of Kiskiminetas: “I had an intense conversation with God about reclaiming the right of gay and lesbian people to have faith and to shed the shame and fear we all knew too well. I began to feel that Saturday’s debate was no longer about myself and my husband, it was about the nature of Christianity as an accepting and socially just force in a much larger world than rural Pennsylvania.”
The 221st GA approved Amendment 14-F by a 71% margin – seemingly, expressing the strong desire to help the PC(USA) move beyond the decades-long conflict over human sexuality by ensuring that the Book of Order embraces the faithful views of a diverse church.
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.