Moving Toward Greater Faithfulness (5/10)

Moving Toward Greater Faithfulness at the 219th General Assembly

A Statement by the Board of Directors of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians

May 2010

The Covenant Network Board of Directors is deeply grateful that the church has discerned ways to live more faithfully together despite differences in recent years.  The Board has three primary goals as it looks toward the General Assembly in July:

         Resolving the urgent pastoral crisis faced by ministers and Sessions of congregations amid changing structures of family life.  Members of congregations in states where same-sex marriage has become legal are seeking to celebrate their marriages in the sight of God and the presence of their church community, with their pastor officiating.  Business Items 12-06, 12-08, and 12-09 helpfully urge the Assembly to affirm the rights and responsibilities that ministers and Sessions already have under the Constitution to provide pastoral care to these couples—care which may include performing legal marriage services and permitting them to take place on church property.  Other overtures (Items 12-02, 12-03, 12-04, 12-07, and 12-10) would revise the definition of marriage in the Constitution to make it more inclusive.  Still others (Items 18-01 and 18-06) would direct the Board of Pensions to provide benefits for all members of families of those its programs cover. All of these overtures address the changing conditions amid which the church is asked to demonstrate the love of Christ to and among its members. They deserve the Assembly’s priority attention.

         Preserving the actions of previous Assemblies to promote the peace, unity and purity of the Church. The last two Assemblies took actions that affirmed the historic right of presbyteries and Sessions to apply church-wide ordination standards as they were meant to be applied in Presbyterian tradition, with respect for conscience in non-essential matters.  These actions mark a path through ordination debates that offers freedom of conscience for all sides, respect for church-wide standards, and the opportunity for the church to grow in unity and love as it discerns the will of God and the teaching of Scripture.  The last General Assembly also removed 30-year-old statements that oppressed the conscience of many members. Business Items       06-04, 06-05, and 06-18 would turn back the clock, removing the gains of recent years and fundamentally impeding our life together. The Assembly should affirm the actions of the past two Assemblies, which we believe were guided by the Holy Spirit.

         Removing G-6.0106b. This was a founding goal of Covenant Network and remains its high priority. Covenant Network chapters and members were active in urging 21 presbyteries to send overtures to this Assembly.  While these overtures (Items 06-06, 06-07, 06-08, 06-09, 06-10, 06-12, 06-13, 06-14, 06-15, 06-16, and 06-17) use somewhat different language, all propose to replace G-6.0106b with statements that preserve high standards for officers but are better aligned with Reformed theology and practice of ordination.  As in the past, Covenant Network will work through the General Assembly’s process of discernment to bring about the full inclusion of all whom God calls to ordained leadership in the church.

Comments will go through moderation before they are posted. Those wishing to leave a comment must include their full name and a working email address, and all comments must be respectful and civil. Personal, ad hominem, or anonymous comments will not be allowed.