Covenant Network of Presbyterians
A Statement by the Board of Directors
of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians
May 10, 2011
The Covenant Network of Presbyterians is deeply grateful for the passage of Amendment 10-A, which replaces a contested sexual ethic in the Presbyterian Church’s ordination standards and reaffirms the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life.
This is a change for which we and many others have worked for years. We rejoice that gay and lesbian Presbyterians, gifted and called by God, are now able to serve more openly in ordained office. We believe that the church will be strengthened by this change.
At the same time, we recognize that Presbyterians are not of one mind about the wisdom of this reform and the interpretation of scripture in matters of sexual ethics. Amendment 10-A permits Presbyterians to hold and respect diverse views. The Covenant Network has always had the unity of the church as one of its primary goals. We therefore will continue to promote dialogue and shared mission across the church. We pray that all Presbyterians may strengthen and support one another, witnessing to the Gospel, promoting reconciliation through Jesus Christ, and working together to realize the reign of God in all creation.
More Light Presbyterians
Link to More Light Presbyterians statement
May 10, 2011
Grace and peace. We give thanks to God that the 219th General Assembly's Ordination Amendment 10-A was ratified tonight as Twin Cities was the 87th presbytery to approve it by 205 to 56 with 3 abstentions.
Tonight Presbyterians join the United Church of Christ, the Episcopalian Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as denominations who have eliminated official barriers to full membership, leadership and service for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. This is indeed a historic moment in the life of the Presbyterian Church (USA), but also in the worldwide Christian communion.
More Light Presbyterians have been working for justice and equality since 1974 when the Rev. David Sindt became the first openly gay minister in our Church. "I am so grateful for the sacrificial effort of so many people over these years to bring this deeply Reformed correction to an error made by the Church. Both during these months as the presbyteries have voted and for the last 37 years, you have courageously and steadfastly given of yourselves in a host of ways to bring our Church to this moment. Every bit of your energy, intelligence, imagination and love was needed to come to this new day. I am grateful to God for the privilege of being part of this witnessing community," said the Rev. Janet Edwards, Co-Moderator.
"My heart is full as I think of all of those children of God who were hurt, who persevered, who left, who stayed and who worked so hard to make the Presbyterian Church (USA) truly reflect the wildly inclusive love of Jesus Christ—too many to name. Now, candidates for office within the PC(USA) will be evaluated based upon their love of Jesus Christ, the wholeness of their lives, their call to ministry and the gifts they bring," said Trice Gibbons, Co-Moderator.
"It is necessary and absolutely OK to celebrate this moment in the life and witness of our Church, the end of categorical discrimination against God's LGBT children which was wrong in the first place. What a journey this work for justice and equality has been. The thousands of prayers, faithful conversations, sharing of hopes and dreams are all part of building a Church that reflects God's heart and a world that respects all persons," said Michael J. Adee, Executive Director & Field Organizer.
We are grateful for the work that still lies before us. The YES on 10-A Campaign continues full steam ahead until the last presbytery votes on June 28. Please keep believing, praying and working. We need to nurture and support churches to extend calls to LGBT candidates and help those candidates through the process for ordination in their particular presbyteries. We need to continue the conversation on marriage equality. Above all, we need to help the whole church see that the affirmation of LGBT persons and their families is a practical application of the Gospel message that God in Christ creates and loves us all. Proclaiming the Gospel lasts a lifetime.
There is much work ahead of us for our Church. But tonight, let us recognize this kairos moment in the life of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the liberating gift it is for our future. Together we are building a Church that reflects God's heart.
with hope and grace,
Rev. Janet Edwards, Co-Moderator
Trice Gibbons, Co-Moderator
Presbyterians for Renewal
Link to Presbyterian Renewal Network statement
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Amendment 10-A has now been approved by a majority of the presbyteries within the PC(USA). While the ongoing voting in remaining presbyteries is important, both as a means of faithful witness, and for the sake of understanding the state of our divisions, the biblical standard of fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman and chastity in singleness will soon be removed as an explicit denominational standard for ordination and/or installation of church officers. We deeply grieve this unfaithful action, for it brings great harm to the life and witness of the PC(USA). We have prayed that our denomination would uphold this biblical standard, and we have worked to maintain it. But now a line has been crossed.
This revision of our Book of Order signals a massive change in our covenantal life and a departure from the beliefs and practice of the historic and global church. We who are committed to holding fast the clear teaching of scripture must pray and work all the more to discern how to move forward with biblical faithfulness in and for a denomination that has lost its way.
First, we must affirm what has not changed:
Jesus Christ is Lord—this has not changed and never will! Remember Jesus’ words, “I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18 ).
The ultimate victory of Jesus Christ over sin and death has not been compromised! No action taken by the PC(USA) can threaten our Lord’s redemptive purpose.
Scripture still clearly teaches that God intends the gift of sexual intimacy to be expressed within a lifelong covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. No vote by the PC(USA) can change God’s truth.
Within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), other important realities have not changed:
Congregations and presbyteries have the right and the responsibility to examine and elect Deacons, Elders, and Ministers of the Word and Sacrament.
The new constitutional language, though lacking the clear expression of “fidelity/chastity,” does not require us to violate our understanding of biblical standards.
Our Book of Order can be amended again. We who oppose this decay in ordination standards are still free to work to restore the clarity that has been lost and even to raise the level of accountability.
This is not a time for panic or for ill-considered actions that could potentially damage our mission and witness even more than the passage of Amendment 10-A. Neither is it a time for pretending that we can continue to “do church” as we have before. Instead, this is the time for:
focused prayer on repentance for our own unfaithfulness and wisdom for the future;
new covenanted fellowships within and perhaps beyond the PC(USA) based on closer theological agreement, which will support continued biblical faithfulness, and;
sober assessments of the options we have for ministry with integrity.
PFR pledges to continue our ministry of networking, resourcing, educating, and equipping biblically faithful, missional leaders within the PC(USA). We have been here for you throughout the many struggles that have led to this point, we are here with you now—and wherever God may lead us.
So let us together lift up our hearts—it is not an accident or a disaster that brings us here. God is at work.
Link to Presbyterian Coalition statement
The Church's proclamation of the gospel and the preservation of truth has been dealt a wounding blow by the outcome of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s vote on Amendment 10-A.
The PC(USA)'s explicit biblical and historical standard of sexual holiness -- "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness" -- has been removed from our constitution's Form of Government. Thus, each session and presbytery will be expected to determine its own standard in the area of sexual behavior for those seeking ordination, thereby further fracturing our already fragile denominational unity.
As a result of this vote, the integrity of our life together as a denomination is called into question. Our relationship with many of our international missions partners and with thousands within our own denomination is deeply threatened, and we have placed ourselves at odds with the considered wisdom of the Christian Church throughout history.
God's benevolent will and good purpose for all people cannot be changed by a vote! The Presbyterian Coalition maintains its commitment to the standard that those called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. We continue to hold up the standard that officers are to live in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness. We continue to counsel obedience to these standards, and repentance to those who fall short, as we all do.
We continue to pray for the transformation of those caught up in the sexual confusion of our time, and commit ourselves to walking alongside our brothers and sisters in the grace offered by our Lord Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection.
We continue in our commitment to preserve the truth and to resist evil, and we welcome all who will join us in working for biblical integrity in the Church of Jesus Christ.
We seek the Lord's will in what lies ahead, and pray that he will purify the PC(USA) and restore her witness to the world.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
(1 Cor 6: 19-20)
To God be the glory!
Board of Directors
The Presbyterian Coalition
Committee statement: Undermining the foundations
Link Response: The Moral Awakening of Mainstream Christianity
That All May Freely Serve
Link to That All May Freely Serve statement