The Board of Directors of the Covenant Network, an organization that advocates for the full inclusion of the LGBTQ/Q people in the life and ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA), has spoken out against the so-called “Apology Overture,” that will be debated during this summer’s 222nd General Assembly, saying that it doesn’t think the apology would “lead to healing.”
“We worry it will further alienate our brothers and sisters in Christ who are committed to remain in the PCUSA even as they disagree with recent changes to our polity on matters of sexuality,” the statement continues.
The Covenant Network is referring to General Assembly Business Item 11-05 (Formerly Overture 050) which asks the assembly to apologize to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ/Q) community because it says “there will be no chance for healing and reconciliation until the PCUSA admits its mistakes and makes a statement of apology.”
The overture cites as sin the PCUSA’s two-hundred and twenty year position of following clear Biblical teaching and aligning itself with more than 2,000 years of Christian tradition by failing to allow practicing LGBTQ/Q people to be ordained as church officers and not permitting same-sex marriages by PCUSA ministers or in PCUSA churches.
It asks that the PCUSA affirm, confess and apologize for “the teachings and actions that have created marginalization of our sisters and brothers, adding to the erroneous belief that people who identify as LGBTQ/Q should be considered unworthy to serve fully or be honored as family within and without the church.”
Barbara Wheeler, former president of Auburn Theological Seminary and Covenant Network board member has also spoken out against the overture, calling it a “breach of faith.”
That All May Freely Serve, another organization that advocates on behalf of the LGBTQ/Q people in the PCUSA is supporting the overture.
The Covenant Network’s statement reads:
Since 1997, the Covenant Network has worked toward a church as generous and just as God’s grace. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work for access to ordination and marriage for all God’s children, and grateful the church has seen fit to extend that grace and justice these past few years.
We have also held up the unity of the church as a primary value in our ministry. We are grateful for the relationships we have forged with friends from all across the church—people who may reach different conclusions about some matters of faith and life, but with whom we worship the same Lord and love the same church.
At this year’s General Assembly, the Covenant Network will be supporting numerous efforts to affirm LGBTQ people and promote justice and inclusion in the church. We support an effort to strengthen the church’s witness for global human rights, especially those of LGBTQ people around the world. We support an overture that condemns so-called “reparative” therapy as the damaging and dangerous practice that it is. We are fully committed to defending the church’s new constitutional language describing marriage against an effort to repeal it. And we are opposed to overtures that would diminish the church’s ability to discern and implement a meaningful public witness.
But because of our commitment to unity, the Board of the Covenant Network is hopeful that Presbyterians will not support Overture 050 (now designated Item 11-05), which seeks to have the General Assembly issue an “apology” for past actions of individuals and presbyteries and names as erroneous actions that were—and in some cases still are—permissible under the Constitution of the church. We are grateful for voices that remind us to seek reconciliation and healing, but we do not feel this overture will lead to healing. We worry it will further alienate our brothers and sisters in Christ who are committed to remain in the PCUSA even as they disagree with recent changes to our polity on matters of sexuality. From the beginning of these debates, we have stood up for the value and freedom of presbyters and councils exercising their conscience in accordance with the scriptures. We hope one day that all will support ordination and marriage for all God’s children, but we remain committed to each person’s conscience being honored as we move forward together as God’s people.
We agree with the writers of Overture 050 that there is much healing to do. We remain committed to continue our long-standing work for the full inclusion of LGBTQ Presbyterians in the life of the church, allowing the whole church to benefit from their gifts for ministry. We remain committed to seek conversation and common purpose with people who disagree with us about these important matters. We know people on all sides of the issue have been hurt and we trust that God’s grace and faithfulness which has brought us this far will be the balm that heals us further.
Let us worship together, pray together and for each other, listen to each other, love one another, and seek the healing of the church and the flourishing of all of God’s children.
The Rev. Randy Bush and the Rev. Marci Auld Glass, Co-Moderators
The Rev. Brian Ellison, Executive Director
Breach of Faith: Why the Apology Overture is So Wrong
Will PCUSA Apology to LGBTQ/Q Create Grounds for Conservative Ministers to be Prosecuted?
Overture to PCUSA GA Seeks to Extract Apology from Those Following Biblical Teachings on Sexuality
Good for them. They are gracious in victory. Christ desires unity in the church. It is time for PCUSA to move forward.
The only thing that’s going “lead to healing” is allowing departing churches who want to keep their property go without being blackmailed, otherwise no dice.
I guess the question is “Who is the church?” Is it one snapshot in time or does it include generations that have gone before and will follow afterwards? In my mind, it should be difficult to leave a denomination so that rash, angry activists can’t push through a change that impacts generations of faithful.
As for any payments, those are intended to be in proportion to those members who wish to remain within the denomination. They certainly have vested rights as well, I am sure you agree.
Counselor, leaving should NOT be difficult, the trust clause is back door stealing by any other name, unless the Church themselves agreed to it in writing . As far as “payments” it has been my vast experience in the pcusa as a ruling elder that revisionist don’t tithe, which is why liberal churches are relying on endowments and blackmailing departing churches to survive. Why go to church when all they’re preaching is anything goes, you can stay home and do that without hearing it from a pulpit.
If there is one word or concept that I think applies to the contemporary PCUSA it is the term “Vulgar”. The PCUSA is simply a vulgar entity. Vulgar in its near obsession with sex, money, power, ideology. Vulgar in how it relates to its churches. Vulgar is how to treats those who disagree with its new authoritarian queer orthodoxy. Vulgar and banal in its councils, offices and what it produces. Whatever is produced, or not, at Portland will not change its over all tone and tenor.
Is it like after another marathon Presbytery meeting devoted to Israel-BDS, sex and gender grievance issues, money exaction from departing churches, one wants to jump in the shower and remove the stench.
“Victory”?!…surely you jest….they have destroyed the denomination…so, I guess they got their ‘way’, although nobody is left….but “victory”?….hardly.
Think you’re missing it counselor. “Who is the Church?” You have missed it completely. Maybe you should ask “The Church is the bride of Who?” But I’m sure that Jesus could learn a thing or two from the PCUSA. Perhaps He’ll be allowed to take the microphone at the next GA meeting?
I imagine those who relied on Paul saying “Slave obey thy master” to rationalize slavery thought the denomination was “destroyed” when it bravely rejected slavery on moral grounds. Similarly, when the denomination led the fight against the subjugation of women, many rejected such moral progress. Time will tell how history views the current protestations.
Actually, the trust clause is part of the constitution of the denomination. We will have to agree to differ. I believe it should be difficult to leave a denomination that generations before belonged to and contributed to, just as it should be difficult to amend the U.S. Constitution, etc.
I gather you are using the term “revisionist” to describe someone who interprets Scripture differently from you? That is rather judgmental. Perhaps you should reread Romans 2.
I recognize that this venue is designed more as a one-sided place to rant, but just to keep everyone honest, I believe it is “vulgar” to use the Bible to hurt others and to rationalize one’s own biases, such as racism, subjugation of women, homophobia, etc. I’ve always found it interesting that those who wish to discriminate against another group– whether on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation–always cite Paul, a mortal man who was the product of his own culture. They can never cite Jesus to support hatred or discrimination, of course.
…silly, non-applicable rationalizations to support behavior that YOU want to support…not sure how old you must be? …And are you one of those who for some reason thinks “history” will always ‘get things right’ ?…..you do know the world will indeed end at one point in ‘history’, do you not?
You have posited a false dichotomy between the Lord Jesus and His Apostles (Paul in particular), and in so doing have posited a false dichotomy between the second and third Persons of the Trinity.
In the Upper Room Discourse, the Lord Jesus told His Disciples, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (Jn. 14.12-14)
You will note that the Lord Jesus was here telling His Disciples, who would thereafter be His Apostles that would lead His Church after His Resurrection and Ascension, that in the three years He had spent with them, He had not disclosed all that He would have them know. For the rest of what He had to say to them, He would send the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16.7), who would “guide (them) into all the truth”.
To be sure, Saul of Tarsus was not among the Lord’s Disciples when He walked the earth, and even after the Lord Jesus’ Ascension, Saul persecuted them for a time. But after Saul’s conversion in Acts 9, and after his own three-year discipleship period in the Arabian desert (II Cor. 12.2-4, Gal. 1.17-18), he was commissioned by the Holy Spirit “for the work to which (He) had called (him)” (Acts 13.2), that work being that Paul “might preach (Christ) among the Gentiles” (Gal. 1.16), that is, us. And Paul had to assert and defend his Apostleship over and against those who would deny that he was one (Rom. 1.1, I Cor. 1.1, II&Cor. 1.1, 10-13, Gal. 1.1, Eph. 1.1, Col. 1.1, I Tim. 1.1, II Tim. 1.1, Tit. 1.1).
Now the Apostle Peter wrote, “No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (II Pet. 1.20-21) And in that same epistle, Peter endorsed Paul, writing, “Count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” (II Pet. 3.15-16) And to be sure, Paul was cognizant that what he wrote was not on his own authority but was, rather, the Word of God (I Thess. 2.13) And having been instructed in the Old Testament Law by none other than the esteemed Gamaliel (Acts 22.3), Paul would doubtless recall the penalty attached for one presuming to speak a word in the Lord’s name when He had not commanded him to speak (Dt. 18.20; cf. Jer. 28).
So then, when Paul speaks of homosexuality as a sin (Rom. 1.24-27, I Cor. 6.9-10, I Tim. 1.9-10), why do you think of him as “the product of his own culture”? Could not what he was saying have been from God, especially considering that God through Moses had proscribed the practice some fifteen hundred years earlier (Lev. 18.22, 20.13)?
And for that matter, why would you suppose that the Lord Jesus, by His silence on the subject, have regarded homosexuality as not a sin, when early in His earthly ministry He said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them”? Further, He said, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pas away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5.17-19)
Far from relaxing the Old Testament laws regarding sexual activity, the Lord Jesus actually intensifies them. He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt. 5.27-28) He was most certainly not saying that it was acceptable for a man to commit adultery with another man’s wife, provided he did not lust after her first. Rather, He was drawing attention to the fact that evil such as adultery proceeds from the sinful heart of man. As He told His Disciples after clashing with the Pharisees over traditions and commandments, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.” (Mt. 15.19-20) So then, we must be circumspect not only to not commit adultery or engage in sexual immorality, but we must endeavor to guard our thoughts and the intentions of our hearts, lest we commit sin inwardly that none can see but God alone, and He condemn us for it.
Similarly, when He said to the woman who was caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you,” He was not giving her permission to continue committing adultery. After all, He immediately followed that word of pardon with the command, “Go, and from now on sin no more.” (Jn. 8.11)
Finally, why do you suppose that if we reference Scripture’s condemnation of homosexuality, we must necessarily be guilty of hating or fearing homosexuals? Can it not be that we would see the male homosexual or the lesbian turn to Jesus Christ, repent of his or her sin, and be saved? After all, it was God through Paul who said that homosexuals, among others, would not inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6.9-10), just as it was God through Paul who said that some in the Corinthian Church formerly had practiced these things but had repented of them and were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor. 6.11) And forget not that it was God through the Prophet Ezekiel who said, “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? … Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.” (Ezek. 18.23,31-32)