After a lengthy, complicated and confusing process, which included juggling a main motion, a substitute motion and the original overture, the Social Justice Issues Committee voted 56-1 to approve an alternative to the “apology overture,” that was sent to the 222nd General Assembly by the Presbytery of New York City.
And while the resolution approved by the committee does not call on the PCUSA to admit that it “has been wrong in the way it has treated the LGBTQ/Q community” and to “apologize for the teachings and actions that have created marginalization of our sisters and brothers,” as the original overture did, it does resolve to “continue the journey as a denomination to become more open, understanding and accepting of our LGBTQ/Q [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning] family.”
The resolution that the committee decided to send to the General Assembly for its approval reads:
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
- 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 (USA) 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 PCUSA. 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.