Benton: a change of heart, a plea for forgiveness

The Rev. Marc Benton’s complaint against the Presbytery of Hudson River in 1999 led to a decision by the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission forming an important precedent in the development of the constitutional interpretation about marriage in the PC(USA). In a statement to be presented at the next meeting of the presbytery, Benton explains how he changed his mind about same-gender marriage, and asks forgiveness.

“By the authority of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)”

Photo by Ray Bagnuolo, courtesy of That All May Freely Serve

Former Covenant Network Board member Kent Organ reflects on the joy of witnessing the wedding of Gerri Mead and Gail Russell at Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church, where he had served as Interim Pastor: ‘ Lincoln Park’s current pastor, Beth Buckingham-Brown, said that this wedding was performed “by the authority of the State of Illinois.” Just before that, her co-officiant, a longtime friend, supporter and adviser to Gail and Gerri — as to many gay and lesbian couples in our denomination — the Rev. Janie Spahr, declared, “By the authority of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)…” and we all erupted in enthusiastic and sustained applause.’

“You will know them by their fruits.”

Address to the Covenant Network by Dr. Mark Achtemeier, 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA): “There have been previous General Assemblies where I worked very hard to pass the constitutional ban on gay people serving in the ordained ministries of the PC(USA). I am co-author of the declaration of faith that the Presbyterian Coalition adopted to unite its members in their opposition to gay inclusion. I keynoted the National Celebration of Confessing Churches, which rallied conservative congregations to stand fast in the struggle to keep the constitutional ban in place.
And yet here we are today. I remain fully committed to a high view of biblical authority. But I stand before you as a chastened disciple who now recognizes that the witness of scripture comes down overwhelmingly on the side of gay inclusion.”

Authoritative Interpretation on Marriage – Overture Advocates’ Presentation

Overture Advocates for three items requesting an Authoritative Interpretation on marriage – 26 overtures and concurrences, the most of any item on any subject before the 221st GA – combined their time to make one presentation to the Committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues. Read it here.

Marriage Amendment Overture Advocate Presentation

Overture Advocates from the 17 presbyteries that proposed an amendment to W-4.9000, the marriage section in the Directory for Worship of the PCUSA Book of Order, made a presentation the morning of Monday, June 16, to the Committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues of the 221st General Assembly. Read it here.

The Urgency of an Authoritative Interpretation on Marriage

By Tim Cahn: A new authoritative interpretation (“AI”) of the PCUSA Constitution is needed to ensure that teaching elders have discretion to officiate same-gender marriages in states where legal. Without a new AI, teaching elders who perform ecclesiastical marriage services for same-gender couples may continue to be vulnerable to disciplinary proceedings under the prevailing interpretations of the Book of Order. These disciplinary proceedings come at a high institutional and personal cost, including the hundreds of hours spent by many persons over several years to resolve these cases, the emotional toll on all parties concerned, and the often harsh public attention that such church trials can fix on the Church…