Voting on Amendment 08-B – 5/09

The Conversation Continues

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

May 20, 2009

Voting on Amendment 08-B in the presbyteries is now complete, and the Board of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, while disappointed by the outcome, is encouraged by signs of progress and still hopeful about the future of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

We were grateful that the 218th General Assembly in 2008 approved two important Authoritative Interpretations that provide the immediate opportunity for faithful and inclusive ordinations.  That G.A. also approved an amendment, 2008-B, that proposed alternative language to the controversial G-6.0106b.  After the General Assembly, the Covenant Network stated that we were going to “organize for conversations, not combat” and that the way in which presbyteries engaged this amendment would be as important as the voting results. 

People in many places have reported that their presbyteries took seriously the General Assembly’s recommendation to use “listening and discernment” leading up to and voting on Amendment 08-B.  In many presbyteries discussions and processes were more collegial and mutually respectful than in past voting.  In accord with the best of our tradition, Presbyterians thoughtfully engaged one another across lines of difference and together sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

We are very encouraged that seventy-eight presbyteries voted Yes to Amendment 08-B.  Thirty-four presbyteries from North Carolina to Ohio to Texas to Utah that did not vote to remove G-6.0106b in 2001-02, this time voted in favor of 08-B.  Three tie votes, which count as No votes, also demonstrate how closely divided the church is on this question.  The total votes cast were nearly equal: forty-nine percent of presbytery commissioners voted in favor of 08-B.   Clearly our church has reached no consensus, and the work of learning to live faithfully in a time of disagreement remains before us.

While Amendment 08-B did not pass in the required majority of presbyteries this year, it is clear that change is coming to the church.  We recommit ourselves to work for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Presbyterians in the life and leadership of the church while simultaneously working for unity within our denomination.  Voting on 2008 amendments is now complete, and the conversation continues.

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