The Covenant Network of Presbyterians Board of Directors strongly endorses POL-01 (the “Olympia Overture”). It is a measured, faithful, timely effort to strengthen the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),  ensuring that the gifts and calling of LGBTQIA+ people as members and leaders are honored and celebrated.

The Covenant Network of Presbyterians has always sought to work toward a church that demonstrates both unity and inclusion. We have worked with people across the theological and ideological spectrum to help the church grow in its authentic welcome of people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. At times, we have urged modest steps forward toward a more just church, even while leaving space for those who don’t yet share our vision. This proposal continues that tradition.

We are heartened by the broad support for Part 1 of the overture, which adds “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to F-1.0403, the Book of Order’s seminal paragraph on unity in diversity. This is a profoundly important step, marking the church’s full intention to support LGBTQIA+ people and celebrate their identities and gifts.

We disagree with those who believe Part 2 of the overture goes too far. This amendment would set the expectation that those seeking ordination and installation be prepared to describe their commitment to F-1.0403’s principles of participation and representation. This is not an unreasonable ask, and it is not an extraordinary burden on those candidates or the councils who examine them. It is the least we can do for their potential future colleagues as deacons, elders and ministers among whom they seek to serve. All should be able to describe how they will be “a friend among [their] colleagues in ministry” who are of a different race, ethnicity, sex, gender orientation or sexual orientation than themselves. (Note that all the principles of representation are included, not just those pertaining to LGBTQIA+ people.) Many who still say they do not support LGBTQIA+ ordination have found ways to serve faithfully alongside LGBTQIA+ people. All councils would remain free to determine—as they always have—whether answers are satisfactory and the candidate should be ordained or installed.

The transparency and clarity offered by this overture will strengthen the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). And the combined effect of the overture will serve as further affirmation of LGBTQIA+ people among our membership and leadership. In our work as an organization, we are painfully aware of just how far we have to go to fully realize equity for LGBTQIA+ people, even more than a decade after decisions on ordination and same-gender marriage. This overture represents one more small step—but an essential and necessary one—in our work toward a church as generous and just as God’s grace.

The Board of Directors of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, May 9, 2024

The members of the board are: 

The Rev. Matt Gaventa, Co-Moderator
University Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas 

Slats Toole, Co-Moderator
Minneapolis, Minn.

The Rev. Nick Carson
Charlotte, N.C.

Douglas L. Chial
World Council of Churches, Geneva, Switzerland 

Elder Christopher Dahlke
Corpus Christi, Texas

The Rev. Lucy Forster-Smith
Wellesley, Mass.

The Rev. Marci Auld Glass
Calvary Presbyterian Church, San Francisco, Calif.

The Rev. Alexandra Hendrickson
Lafayette College, Easton, Penn.

The Rev. Chad Andrew Herring
Village Presbyterian Church, Prairie Village, Kansas   

Daniel Herron
Trinity Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, Wash.

The Rev. Joanna Hipp
Southport, N.C.

The Rev. Karla Ann Koll
Latin American Biblical University, San Jose, Costa Rica   

The Rev. Jenny McDevitt
Shandon Presbyterian Church, Columbia, S.C.

The Rev. Carol M. McDonald
Northminster Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Ind.

Elder Vince Patton
Central Presbyterian Church, Louisville, Ky.  

The Rev. TJ Remaley
Southminster Presbyterian Church, Boise, Idaho

The Rev. Lucy Strong
Trinity Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, Ga. 

Elder Susan Young Thornton
Presbytery of Los Ranchos, Anaheim, Calif.

The Rev. Alex Vaiz
Sacramento, Calif.

The Rev. Laura Viau
First & Central Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, Del.

The Rev. Julia Watkins
Davidson College, Davidson, N.C.

The Rev. Landon Whitsitt
Westminster Presbyterian Church, Oklahoma City, Okla.

The Rev. Brian Ellison (ex officio), Executive Director
Covenant Network of Presbyterians, Kansas City, Mo.