Officially, Rev. Jane Adams Spahr is on trial this week for officiating at wedding ceremonies for 16 same-gender couples. But Rev. Spahr isn't on trial, really.
Today the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is on trial. It is on trial for its treatment of its own people and for its treatment of ministers and congregations who care for them. It is time for our denomination to recognize and stand for equality and to recognize loving same-gender relationships with all the legal and spiritual status God has given them.
In light of the change that needs to happen within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), deacons, elders, and ministers have the opportunity to stand for marriage equality and to stand with ministers who risk being taken to church court for doing what ministers are supposed to do.
If you are an deacon, elder, or minister in the PC(USA) please consider signing the Minneapolis Declaration of Conscience. The goal is 1000 signatures. Here is the statement:
1. We believe that the restrictive definition of marriage as "between a man and a woman" is binding of our pastoral discernment and unduly restricts our conscience. Such a definition does not find congruity with the established legal definitions in five U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and numerous countries in the world.As of this writing, we have 19 signatures. 981 more to go!
2. We recognize an individual clergy's pastoral discernment in making decisions relating to same gender marriages according to individual congregational needs, regional law, individual conscience and Biblical conviction.
3. We recognize that restrictive language hinders our pastoral care duties to members in full standing and shackles our liberty in Christ. Such language makes us choose between the new openness we are called to (G-3.0401) and enduring unscrupulous charges made in the courts of the church. We are either a church for all people or we are not (G-4.0401-3).
4. We believe that binding our liberty in Christ in matters to which we believe the Spirit of God is directing us runs counter to our confessional and reformed heritage, which calls us to encourage covenant faithfulness and love rather than thwart it.
5. We believe that Christ's teaching, the Pauline witness, and our confessions guide us to reject binding our consciences against actions that we find to be counter the Spirit of God.
6. We call on people of good faith to cease from using our church courts to promote schism for their definition of purity.
7. We believe that Sessions should be able to approve the use of their church buildings for all marriages, especially since they will know the people requesting services of marriage better than those in higher governing bodies. A national policy ties the hands of the local Session, and diminishes their church's ministry of pastoral care.
8. Therefore, we cannot and will not abide by overly restrictive ecclesial/liturgical definitions of marriage continued by the 219th General Assembly out of scruples.