Friends of our St, John’s community and friends far and wide,
We have just learned of an historic vote throughout our denomination. While the vote at the General Assembly last June in Detroit approved of same-gender marriages as the same as any marriage and allowed our clergy to perform these marriages, this vote required the confirmation of the majority of presbyteries of our denomination. A sufficient number of presbyteries have just voted to indicate that the majority confirmed this vote of last June, so this change is now part of our constitution. While the majority affirm and celebrate this, many are disheartened by this. Like any change, especially one that has its foundation in scripture, there is true and great joy, as well as pain. Many did not imagine this change happening in their lifetime.
When I was at the General Assembly last summer I witnessed the vote, which was a complete reversal of two years before. Some of this may be attributed to the departure of and therefore less representation of more traditional or conservative churches. Some attribute this to a younger representation at General Assembly, however, when looking at the delegates it was clear that still the vast majority were more of a mature age, rather than young. So might we attribute this to the faithful reading and study of scripture, and the clear guidance of the Holy Spirit as we met, prayed and discerned together? We hope and chose to believe that it is indeed the work of a loving, inclusive God, fulfilling that work among us.
I ask you to continue to pray for our church, our denomination, that struggles to be faithful to Christ’s mission in the world among those who are neglected, those who are gentle, and those who have no voice. Please pray for those who are hurting and seek understanding after this decision. Our denomination, and in fact the body of Christ universal remains nimble in the midst of change. Historically there have always been splits and coming back together. If we, as the body of Christ, extend his love, justice and peace with humility and grace, his presence will continue to touch the lives of people and cultures and powers and principalities for the purpose of the household of God and its fulfillment. This, I truly believe. I am thankful that I have the privilege of serving a congregation of folks who seek to display love and openness in a powerful and vulnerable way to friends and community. Praise God!
Here are the two announcements from the PC(USA). I encourage you also to read some of the comments below each. The first focuses on the act of worship, the central activity of our life together, while the second gives teaching elders permission to perform these marriages. If you have concerns or questions, please feel free to be in touch with pastor Theresa or myself.