A Note from the Pastor: General Assembly News

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The 221st General Assembly of the PC (USA) was held in Detroit, June 14-21, with at least three actions attracting wide attention:

  • By a vote of 310-303, the Assembly approved an overture calling for divestment of church funds from three companies alleged to engage in “non-peaceful pursuits” in Israel-Palestine.
  • By a vote of 371-238, the Assembly approved a measure giving ministers discretion to perform same-gender marriages in states where it is legal. This measure took effect on June 21, 2014.
  • By a vote of 429-175, the Assembly proposed an amendment to change the constitution that would expand the definition of marriage to include same-gender couples. This proposed amendment must be approved by a majority of our 172 presbyteries, and, if ratified, would take effect June 21, 2015.

I recognize that feelings about these actions are as divided as the votes; I’ve heard from members who are joyful and proud, and members who are angry and upset. Personally, about the first action, I tend to think that it’s better to work within a system in which you’re invested than to divest and expect to have influence. About the second action, it seems to me a fair compromise to give ministers discretion to officiate same-gender unions, when they believe they are called to do so. The action neither compels ministers to perform such weddings, nor forces sessions to approve them on church property; individual and group discernment of God’s leading is preserved. Concerning the third action, I’m still listening to those who believe that marriage is more than religious recognition of a civil contract between two people and the state, who are concerned that we develop a common theological understanding of what makes marriage “Christian.” I’m living proof that the individual heart and mind can be divided about the actions of the larger Church.

In times of high emotion, it’s important not to be misled by the sensationalist spin of various media hubs vying for attention. One of the best sources of information is the Office of the General Assembly, 2014 G.A. web page: http://oga.pcusa.org/section/ga/ga221/ . The right sidebar of the G.A. web page contains links to a couple of “just-the-facts,” frequently-asked-questions documents, paper copies of which are available in the church office upon request.

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~ by JohnH1962 on June 26, 2014.

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