Removing G-6.0106b and other impediments to the ordained service of LGBT Presbyterians, and upholding the unity of the church: from our founding in 1997, these two goals have been the focus of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, and these two goals will again guide our approach to the issues being considered by the 220th General Assembly.
The 219th GA (2010) made significant gains sought by the Covenant Network, including proposing Amendment 10-A for ordination equality and urging the Board of Pensions to honor the principle of equal pay for equal work by providing benefits to the partners and children of Plan members in committed same-gender relationships. These issues will again be on the agenda of the 220th GA, and CovNet will work to preserve the progress achieved since the 219th.
The approval of Amendment 10-A by a majority of the presbyteries was the culmination of many years of effort; G-6.0106b was amended to become G-2.0104b, an ordination provision that no longer singles out sexuality for special scrutiny or targets LGBT persons for exclusion. Presbyteries have submitted 15 overtures (representing 8 separate proposals) that would amend G-2.0104 or a related paragraph, many of which seek to return the PCUSA to the discriminatory standard. Our highest priority is to preserve the progress achieved with Amendment 10-A. To that end, we lift up Items 07-17, 07-18, and 07-24, which ask the GA to make a statement acknowledging that “faithful Presbyterians earnestly seeking to follow Jesus Christ hold different views about what the Scriptures teach concerning the morality of committed same-gender relationships,” refusing to return to a policy of imposing one interpretation on the whole church, and committing to respectful dialogue.
The 219th General declined to take immediate action towards marriage equality, instead commending to the church for study the work done by the Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage. The Covenant Network Board continues to be concerned with 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-gender 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; we commend the overtures that would confirm the discretion of pastors to conduct such services as they minister to all families.