Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Presbyterian Equality News

**UPDATE**

I missed more action from committee twelve. Thanks to Pastor Bob and his eagle eye for equality for pointing out that the committee
does recommend a change in the definition of marriage for the Book of Order. By a vote of 34-18-2 the committee sent the following to plenary:
“W-4.9001

“Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage is a civil contract covenant between a woman and a man two people (“the couple”) and according to the laws of the state also constitutes a civil contract. For Christians marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman the couple are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship. In a service of Christian marriage a lifelong commitment is made by a woman and a man to each other the couple, publicly witnessed and acknowledged by the community of faith.

“W-4.9002

“a. In preparation for the marriage service, the minister shall provide for a discussion with the man and the woman the couple concerning

[The rest of W-4.9002–.9003 remains the same.]
“W-4.9004

“The service begins with the scriptural sentences and a brief statement of purpose. The man and the woman couple shall declare their intention to enter into Christian marriage and shall exchange vows of love and faithfulness. The service includes appropriate passages of Scripture, which may be interpreted in various forms of proclamation. Prayers shall be offered for the couple, for the communities which support them in this new dimension of discipleship, and for all who seek to live in faithfulness. In the name of the triune God the minister shall declare publicly that the woman and the man couple are now joined in marriage.

[The rest of W-4.9004–.9005 remains the same.]
“W-4.9006

“A service of worship recognizing a civil marriage or civil union and confirming it in the community of faith may be appropriate when requested by the couple. The service will be similar to the marriage service except that the opening statement, the declaration of intention, the exchange of vows by the husband and wife couple , and the public declaration by the minister reflect the fact that the woman and man couple are already married to one another united according to the laws of the state.”

***

Here is news on the equality front.

Committees met and fought it out (with love of course) regarding whether or not gay folks should get as many goodies as non-gay folks. Here is what happened:

Regarding marriage, committee 12 passed the following resolution by a vote of
38-16-0:
“Ministers of Word and Sacrament and commissioned lay pastors authorized to conduct services of Christian marriage may exercise pastoral discretion when asked to officiate at ceremonies for couples who have obtained a civil marriage license, and sessions may permit the use of church property for such services. Ministers of Word and Sacrament and commissioned lay pastors may refuse to conduct such services, and sessions may refuse to permit the use of church property for such purposes.”
It doesn't change marriage from "a man and woman" to "two people," but it allows for ministers and congregations to do the religious hocus pocus for same-sex couples in states where they can get a marriage license, at least I understand it.

Regarding ordination, committee six passed the resolution from Western Reserve by a vote of 36-16-1. The current text of G-6.0106b will get replaced with the following:

Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G.14.0240; G-14.0450) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.
Both resolutions passed with a 2-1 margin. Looks good. Thanks to all the Twitterbugs for providing the play by play. You know who you are! : )

17 comments:

  1. John

    You are behind the times. Committee 12 has approved changing W-4.9 to say that marriage is between two persons instead of a man and a woman. It has also approved an overture that would allow pastors in states that allow gay marriage to perform those marriages at their own discretion.

    Committee 18 has taken two actions that I think contradict each other but I'm not sure:

    1. The PC(USA) supports the availability of health care for all individuals. The 219th General Assembly encourages sessions that wish to provide benefits for same-gender spouses and domestic partners to seek coverage through other available benefits plans rather than the Board of Pensions (G-10.0102n). The Board of Pensions is funded by constitutionally mandated dues from congregations (G-14.0534) and as such they share an agreement that the plan will be administered consistently with the confessional and constitutional standards of the church in order to further the peace, unity, and purity of the church.

    2. Alternate Resolution: That the 219th General Assembly (2010): 1. Urge the Board of Pensions to adopt amendments to the Benefits Plan to extend eligibility for spousal and dependent benefits under the Plan to Benefits Plan members, their same-gender domestic partners, and the children of their same-gender domestic partners, on the same basis as, and equivalent to, benefits made available to Benefits Plan members, their spouses, and the children of their spouses. 2. Approve an increase in dues for the Benefits Plan of up to 1 percent, effective January 1, 2012, to be allocated among the plans of the Board of Pensions, including but not limited to the Pension Plan, as the Board, in its sole discretion, deems necessary to fund the cost of the additional benefits. Should the Board not implement these benefits for any reason, approval of the increase in dues is rescinded. Comment: That the Board of Pensions be highly urged to provide relief of conscience, to be implemented simultaneously with these actions, for those congregations for whom these actions cause a moral dilemma. (Action on Comment was separate: 39 affirmative; 6 negative; 0 abstention)

    May I am dense (a real possibility) or getting senile (even more probable) but I think these two actions oppose each other.

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  2. Thanks, Bob. I am behind the times. This is from the More Light Blog:

    The Civil Unions & Marriage Committee passed a number of different pro-LGBT marriage overtures:

    * Overtures that amend the language in W-4.9000 from "a man and a woman" to "two persons". See overtures 12-02, 12-03, 12-04, 12-10.
    * Overtures that allow Ministers of the Word and Sacrament and Sessions to exercise pastoral discretion in marrying same-sex couples. See overtures 12-06, 12-07, 12-08, 12-09.


    Nicely done.

    Speaking of behind the times, that would be committee 18.

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  3. John

    Always good to be recognized as an anal retentive Presbyterian!

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  4. "Speaking of behind the times, that would be committee 18."

    If only one could figure out what they want! Do they want congregations to look for insurance elsewhere or for the Board of Pensions to come up with a plan?

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  5. Wow. I honestly never thought the marriage overture would make it past the committee this time. We're moving forward faster than I thought. Ordination will be done this year (or there's the outside chance it'll take till next time.) Then marriage in a few years, but a much shorter fight than ordination, by at least a couple decades.

    I pray that we will be more gracious when equality and justice finally win the day than the BFTSs have been while intolerance and bigotry have been winning for the past 30 years.

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  6. I pray that we will be more gracious when equality and justice finally win the day than the BFTSs have been while intolerance and bigotry have been winning for the past 30 years.

    Good reminder, Alan.

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  7. And from what I've been reading online so far, I pray we will continue to be far more gracious than the BFTSs when things don't go our way.

    I expect that the venom, vindictiveness, spite, anger, jealousy, envy, and juvenile behavior we've seen from them over the last 3 decades is going to pale in comparison to what we're about to see after this GA.

    Some of the stuff out there already today is amazing, though not surprising to any of us who have been watching the BFTSs for a while. Some folks are clearly very, very close to losing it completely.

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  8. Just to play devil's advocate here, because that's my job, there needs to be tolerance and understanding on both sides of this issue.

    There are a lot of nice Presbyterian members that have been taught that homosexuality is wrong. Not even up for debate, put it there in writing as the 11th Commandment (I speak as a fool, as I believe Paul once said).

    These people are not vindictive, spiteful, angry, jealous, envious, or juvenile. What they probably are is confused, frightened, and perhaps horrified as one of the underpinnings of their belief systems has been knocked away. What's next, they ask, adultery?

    I don't think anybody wants the Presbyterian religion to turn into the gay religion. We all want peace and understanding and to get our heads out of the Old Testament with its language of condemnation and violence.

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  9. Bob,

    You're not defending the things I'm reading online. You're defending someone else. Contrary to what you may think, I'm not an idiot and I well know the difference between honest, vigorous disagreement and anger and the vindictive, spiteful, angry, jealous, envious, and juvenile things I've been reading today.

    There are indeed people who are confused and angry. That's fine. Welcome to the club. Those of us on this side of the fence have been there for the last 30 years. Been there and got the T-Shirt. Where was their concern for our confusion and anger for the last 30 years? MIA. That's OK, we can be better than they are and show them the concern they've never granted us. Which is why we're simply asking for mutual forbearance and not demanding anything other than local option. At least they've been able to be ordained for the last 30 years, so you'll pardon me if, while I'm sorry they're upset, I don't get too worked up about it.

    But the recent article by Jim Berkley in the LayMAN today does not contain the words of someone who is just angry and confused. They're the words of someone being vindictive, spiteful, angry, jealous, envious, and juvenile. (Not to mention a busybody, fusspot, tattletale, and scold.) And that's just one example of what I've seen today online.

    As for tolerance and understanding, I'm not filing charges against them. I'm not restricting them from being ordained. I'm not calling those with reasonable disagreements heretics or apostate. (Would one of these seminary-trained "ministers" please show us all a single time in history when issues of this nature have risen to the level of heresy or apostasy?)

    Yes, tolerance and understanding from *both* sides would be nice. It would be even nicer if we weren't the only folks interested in tolerance and understanding for 30+ years. Sermons on tolerance and understanding are nice, but you're preaching to the choir here. Others could clearly use your admonitions much more, I'd say.

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  10. "I don't think anybody wants the Presbyterian religion to turn into the gay religion. "

    Heh. Presbyterian Religion. Funny slip, but accurate. Presbyterian certainly is a religion for some folks isn't it?

    Me? I'm Christian.

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  11. Baywolfe said: These people are not vindictive, spiteful, angry, jealous, envious, or juvenile. What they probably are is confused, frightened, and perhaps horrified as one of the underpinnings of their belief systems has been knocked away.

    You are quite right. Most people are not those things and they are confused. But it isn't because of people who want equality. It is because of people who would rather have them be confused and frightened than let a little of the control slip out of their hands.

    To say the underpinnings of their belief system has been knocked away is a bit dramatic, and the BFTS such as those at the LayMAN have chosen to make it so. It doesn't need to be that way. Those in power are, as people in power often do, using fear and confusion to protect their power.

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  12. Oops, my two comments above should be to Baywolfe, not Bob.

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. What more can he say, Bob? He directed the comments to the wrong person.

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  15. I got upset, I typed. I calmed down, I removed it. In the modern age it is not only the tongue that is a fire. Fingers are too. I ask for forgiveness.

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  16. To say the underpinnings of their belief system has been knocked away is a bit dramatic

    There I have to disagree with you. I think you underestimate the depth to which people have been brainwashed by any and all christian organizations.

    and the BFTS such as those at the LayMAN have chosen to make it so. It doesn't need to be that way. Those in power are, as people in power often do, using fear and confusion to protect their power.

    There I agree with you completely. They might as well be running around shouting, "Off with their heads!"

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  17. Well, they may think the underpinnings of their faith are being destroyed, but they are wrong. And instead of being a calm and reassuring voice that their faith will - should survive these inevitable changes, the FTBSs make it worse.

    The bottom line is, no one should be saying that ending discrimination is the problem. Pin the tail on the right donkey!

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