Instead of apologizing to LGBTQ/Q (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning) persons in the Presbyterian Church (USA), “for the teachings and actions that have created marginalization of our sisters and brothers,” the 222nd General Assembly voted to express deep regrets to them.
The statement approved by the assembly by a vote of 463-51 was crafted by the Covenant Network of Presbyterians and the Fellowship Community, according to several commissioners who spoke in favor of approving it. It says:
In response to Item 11-05, the 222nd General Assembly (2016) approves the following resolution:
The 222nd General Assembly (2016) resolves to continue the journey as a denomination to become more open, understanding, and accepting of our LGBTQ/Q family and does the following:
- Issues the following statement: “Followers of Jesus Christ know that no person can claim divine favor through personal merit, but only by the grace of God. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) acknowledges that actions we and our members have taken over the years have at times led God’s beloved children who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning to feel that they stand outside the grace of God and are unwelcome in the PC(USA). We deeply regret that, due to human failings, any person might find cause to doubt being loved by God. We affirm the God-given dignity and worth of every human being, and renew our commitment to ‘welcome one another, as Christ has welcomed [us], for the glory of God.’ [Romans 15:7]”
- Expresses the deep sorrow of the Presbyterian Church (USA) about all individuals and congregations who have left our fellowship, affirms our commitment to continue to pray with them, and acknowledges our sincere appreciation for those who have maintained relationship despite profound disagreement.
- Challenges all Presbyterians to reflect upon, and repent of, the ways we have mistreated one another, and to seek reconciliation.
- Celebrates the diversity of those called by God into the Presbyterian Church (USA).
- Calls the Presbyterian Church (USA) to deeper conversations about our differing understandings of what Scripture teaches about faithful living, recognizing that our relationships as God’s children are not ultimately dependent upon agreement.
- Encourages congregations to reach out actively to those who have experienced marginalization due to decisions of the church, across the spectrum of theological understanding.
- Encourages presbyteries, when assessing readiness for ordered ministry, to take into account the preparation of those whose ordination process was interrupted by policies that are no longer applicable [G-2.06].
- Urges presbyteries and congregations to be in ministry respectfully, justly, and graciously together with those with whom they may disagree in regard to ordination and marriage policies and procedures.
- Prays that all Presbyterians, empowered by God’s grace, work to cultivate a renewed spirit of partnership, to live as one community, moving forward in mission and ministry together in faith, hope, love, joy, and peace.
Commissioner John Monroe, from Monmouth Presbytery spoke against approving the statement, saying he was concerned about “how an apology overture was turned into concern for those who are hurt by our becoming more inclusive. … To me without question, the church needs to apologize for a history of deep injury to the LGBTQ/Q community.”
Speaking in favor of the statement, a Theological Student Advisory Delegate (TSAD), agreed that the denomination has “hurt the LGBTQ/Q, but that doesn’t mean we should turn around and hurt others.”
During the assembly’s debate a motion was made to substitute the original overture from the New York City Presbytery and approve it instead of the statement that was recommended by the Social Justice Issues Committee. That motion was defeated. (The original overture can be read here. Scroll down the page, to the “Recommendation” heading.)