Next week begins the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) The summer issue of Covenant Connection is on-line. The Covenant Network of Presbyterians works to bring down the barriers that prevent qualified candidates from becoming officers in the church.
The congregation I presently serve has recently affiliated with Covenant Network and with More Light Presbyterians. We hope others will join with us in an inclusive witness for a church as generous and just as God's grace.
I thought these two paragraphs by Dr. Thomas Long put the focus in the right place.
The issue before the church is not whether persons of this or that sexual orientation can be ordained to ministry. They are already ordained to ministry by virtue of baptism. As is the case with ministers of the Word, elders, and deacons, all baptized Christians have had hands laid upon their heads as a sign that they are set apart as ministers of Christ and as a sign of the presence, power, and blessing of the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit has given to the baptized all the gifts and graces the church needs to sustain its life and engage in its mission, and the whole church is called to be good stewards of these charisms and gifts.You got it, Professor.
So the real question that baptism places before us is not who shall be ordained. That one has already been decided at the font. The real question is one of the stewardship of gifts. If the Holy Spirit gives to this one among us the gift of teaching, and to another among us the gift of preaching, and to still others the gifts of discernment, leadership, and care, who are we to turn these spiritual gifts away? What we are truly summoned to decide is not who among the baptized receives these spiritual gifts or who is entitled to exercise them. The Holy Spirit decides that. We are summoned, rather, to receive these gifts with joy and gratitude and to be the kind of church that orders its life in such a way that these gifts are honored, exercised, and nourished to the glory of God and the blessing of the world.
I also recommend Rev. Ray Bagnuolo's words on his blog, Ray's Net, as he shatters the myths regarding this issue.
Myth #5 is "We Can Accept Compromise." Ray nails the issue. It is fear. He writes:
I’ve come to the conclusion that the real cause of the challenge to full inclusion is such anathema to the idea of being Christian that we refuse to or simply cannot see it. It is at the root of our church, systematic and pervasive. It is more than homophobia or gender bias. It is a sickening, programmatic, and institutionally endorsed disdain and fear of folks who are LGBT/Q2. It is so deeply ingrained in the institution of the PC(USA) that we accept G-6.0106b in our Book of Order and resist constitutional change with alternatives or dismissals. The fear and disdain toward the LGBT/Q2 community are so matter-of-fact a part of the order of church business that they have become very nearly indiscernible from the institution, itself. If we are seeking reasons for the flight of many from religion and the irrelevancy of the church in the lives of the masses, I would start here as the primary source of the exodus. Folks outside the church often see our own bigotry more clearly than we do.I recommend reading all of Ray's posts. He speaks the truth.
We can do it this year. All the progressive groups are in agreement that the discriminatory policies have got to go. No compromise. No more wait and wait, for who, Santa?
The time is now. Do the right thing, commissioners. Remove the Authoritative Interpretation at this GA and send a delete G-6.0106b back to the presbyteries. Folks will be out in every presbytery to witness to justice and to pass the amendment.
Do not be afraid to do the right thing.