Moving Ahead

Covenant Network — Moving Ahead

 Remarks to the Covenant Network General Assembly Luncheon
214th General Assembly, Columbus, OH
17 June 2002

Eugene C. Bay
Pastor, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, Bryn Mawr, PA
Co-Moderator, Covenant Network of Presbyterians

During last year’s General Assembly, the Covenant Network, together with our allies, worked long and hard on behalf of what emerged from that Assembly as Amendment A. The subsequent actions of the presbyteries left us disappointed — disappointed, but not defeated; and like the issue itself, we are not going away.

As we reflect on where we have been, we are gratified and encouraged by three developments. First, the thoughtful and respectful tone of the debates that took place in many presbyteries. Second, the clear evidence that, slowly but surely, minds and hearts are being changed. And third, the growing support of our efforts by persons such as yourself, as indicated by this sold-out luncheon. I, for one, have no doubt that we are on the right side of history, and our friends to our right must fear that it is so, or why else would we have these overtures wanting to require a 2/3 majority to change the Book of Order?

We in the Covenant Network love the Presbyterian Church. We have never threatened to leave it, or to withhold financial support from it. From our earliest days, we have committed ourselves to work for an inclusive church — not only one in which gays and lesbians are welcomed and permitted to share in leadership, but one that is respectful of a range of theological perspectives. We are not seeking to divide the church, or encourage any to leave it. But we will continue our efforts to change it.

To that end, we remain committed to a vision of the church articulated in the Call to Covenant Community: a church with Jesus at its center, a church reflective of his gracious hospitality, a church engaged in the world, a church instructed and inspired by the Scriptures, a church that takes seriously our Lord’s call to unity. We believe our denomination needs, and that many Presbyterians hunger for, a progressive theological voice, and a generous ecclesiastical spirit; we hope to be such a voice, and to reflect such a spirit.

Believing as we do that G-6.0106b does not reflect the Gospel, but is actually in conflict with it, and that its effect is to exclude from leadership some whom God has called, we shall continue our efforts to secure its removal from the Book of Order. Our future work will have a three-fold thrust:

  • Networking,
  • Educating, and
  • Advocating

We will seek to enlist others. Using a variety of methods, we will inform, educate, and energize Presbyterians — especially those in the great middle of the church, as we believe their voices and votes will, in the end, be decisive. We will be advocates of change, and we will provide advice, support, and resources to those who are now, or will become, targets of prosecution.

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