“Marriage Matters” is the theme of the 2013 national Covenant Conference, to be held at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago October 31-November 2. Keynote speakers will include Amy Plantinga Pauw and William Stacy Johnson. A special pre-conference event on marriage liturgies and worship will be led by Kimberly Bracken Long. Registration information will be available soon, but for now – mark your calendar!
In response to the mandate of the 220th General Assembly (2012), the Office of Theology and Worship has published a study of “Christian Marriage in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).” The Covenant Network offers some additional resources and discussion questions for those who wish to explore what embodies the essence of marriage in scripture and the confessions, asking how same-gender marriage—the presenting issue in today’s church and society—may (or may not) express the truth of God.
Keynote Address by Doug Nave at the Covenant Network of Presbyterians Regional Conference, First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York, May 11, 2013: “So the church should care about same-sex marriage – and not simply in a censorious, exclusionary way, but in a supportive and celebratory one – because in marriage a couple can seek the guidance of the church and find the resources needed to model their lives around the covenantal fidelity that is so central to all of Christian faith. What could be more worthwhile than that? What could be more gracious and generous and loving? What, indeed, could be more Christ-like?”
The last in the Covenant Network’s series of ten regional conferences is coming up Saturday, May 11. Featuring two accomplished attorneys who have been active in working for equality for the LGBTQ community, “What Now: Marriage Equality for Presbyterians and Everyone Else” will take place at the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York, with the support of Presbyterian Welcome. Follow this link to register.
A Sermon on Song of Solomon 2:8-13 by Sarah Segal McCaslin: “And while many would say, by way of conclusion or assessment, that way too much time is spent in our denomination talking about what other people do in the bedroom, I think now, truly, that not enough time is spent talking about what goes on in the bedroom. If what goes on behind closed doors has the capacity to be the most faithful and exuberant worship of God that we can imagine, and also one of the places where our bodies are celebrated as God intended, then the church needs to protect against the threat that this beautiful aspect of our God-given humanity might be forced into hiding and become inaccessible to those who might be most in need of a positive word and a grace-filled moment.”
A Sermon on Acts 11:1-18 by Drew M. Henry, La Placitas Presbyterian Church, NM, April 28, 2013: “My home church, the First Presbyterian Church of Selma, Alabama, has been on my heart and mind over recent months. That is the congregation that raised me in the faith and profoundly shaped who I am today. I would like to share with you a letter that I have written to them, and I ask you to join with me in holding them in prayer… I understand that much of the current conflict in the church there is focused on our denomination’s growing acceptance and support of people who are homosexual and their families in the life of the church. Please allow me to share a bit of my story…”
A Sermon on 1 Corinthians 12:14-26 and Isaiah 43:16-21 by David Bartlett, for the Atlanta Regional Conference, April 19, 2013: “… there may be just a little danger as you in your church and I in mine face the possibility of schism and the fights over property and budgets and pensions – there may be just a little danger that we will move beyond what we have every right to say: “I disagree with you entirely” – to what we have no place in Christ’s body to say: “Good riddance; we have no need of you.”
Is there some way that we can stand fast for justice and still work toward reconciliation?”
A sermon on Deuteronomy 10:12-22 by Tricia Dykers Koenig for the Northwest Regional Conference: “The question for us is Deuteronomy’s “So now, what does the Lord your God require of you?” And: “So… now what?” Now that “our side” has “won” on ordination standards and, everyone knows, will win on marriage, but while the day-to-day struggle still rages and the justice God has promised is not fully realized, how do we help along the transitions that all can see coming, but some are grieving? How do we speed change, care for those who have suffered exclusion and indignity, and hold out a hand to those feeling run over by the train of progress, those who may be feeling more and more like strangers in a world and a church that are changing in uncomfortable ways? How do we make it easier for the eventual evolvers?”
Of course, it’s always better to be there, but if you missed the Northwest Regional Conference at Mercer Island Presbyterian Church on Saturday, April 13, you can get a taste by checking out the slides from Bruce Reyes-Chow’s presentation.
Robert Hoch, Dubuque Theological Seminary: “It happened before I knew it was happening. She stood up before the class, preparing to recite the words of the Lord’s Supper, behind a desk upon which we had set the cup, flagon, and bread. She centered herself and then she began to speak. And before we knew it, she and the class were swept up in the rite she was expressing…. As a community being formed by Christ, wherever we stand on the question of human sexuality, our openness to learning from one another should be a priority. Not because we all agree, but because we all have something yet to learn.”