Friday, July 09, 2010

Update from General Assembly

Hello from warm and humid Minneapolis. We are in our last full day of meeting of the PC(USA) General Assembly. It has been a long week.

I have received several communications from some of you about what has happened, specifically about the Assembly approving “homosexual ministers”. I will speak about what GA has done on Sunday morning, but let me give you some brief details now.

Often the media gets the story wrong, or tells it in an incomplete way. Right now we have a standard in our Book of Order for ordained office that states for church officers:

“b. Those who are 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. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W 4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.”

This General Assembly, just as several GA’s in the past has done, has recommended that this standard in our constitution be removed, potentially allowing for ordination of active homosexual persons.

It is important to understand that this change MUST be approved by a majority of our Presbyteries before the change is made. That is how changes to our church constitution are approved. All previous attempts to make this change have failed; the last attempt was just over a year ago. I do not believe this new recommendation will succeed either.

That is not to say that I’m happy about everything the GA has done. They did reject any attempt to redefine marriage from “one man and one woman” to “two people”. That’s showed some good sense. But to say that we now permit the ordination of active homosexuals or as a denomination approve of any homosexual behavior is not correct.

Thanks to all of you who care enough about the greater church and our witness to the world to pay attention to this. Keep praying for the work of our GA.