Does the Presbyterian Church (USA) have a new official seal?
A new variation of the denomination’s seal has been appearing on various web sites celebrating the 221st General Assembly’s approval of measures allowing same-sex marriage to be performed in the PCUSA in states where the practice is legal.
In his June 20 blog, “What rainbowing the Presby seal works for me,” Andrews Kukla wrote, “Yesterday … The Presbyterian Church (USA) – made way for marriage equality … Then a lot of Presbys took FB (Facebook) profile pics by storm changing our seal to some version of rainbow.”
He said that he saw the “rainbow seal as appropriate precisely because I am pro gay. Because called to love my neighbor, the stranger, the alien, and the outcast. I am pro humanity. I am pro people who have been denied love and care, particularly by the church. I’m pro being in a church that is trying to cease to be an oppressive force which it has been (and always will be because we see through a glass dimly).”
Kukla, a Presbyterian pastor in Boise, Idaho, wrote that “for today and tomorrow my seal will be rainbow. It could be, and should be all colors and no color and whatever it takes to remind us that God is God of all people, of many covenants, of steadfast love and faithfulness who tends to hang out with the people forced to the margins by the dominant narratives of our corporate life but endeavors to gather us all in celebrating our uniqueness while creating a wholeness and unity in an Acts 2 kind of outpouring of the Spirit. Today’s rainbow may feel like the scandal of particularity (ala Israel itself) to you, and that should be – because that is the way of our God who lifts up those who need lifting, and at one time or another that is all of us.”
Illustrating a sermon
The Rev. Randall T. Clayton, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Del., used the rainbow seal as an illustration when he posted his June 22 sermon - Storm stories – on his blog.
Speaking of the General Assembly’s decisions on same-sex marriage, Clayton said that “Although some see these actions as a threat to tradition, or as a misreading of Scripture, I see it very differently. I see it as a faithful response to God’s love, and a faithful understanding of what I believe Scripture says we are to be and to do and to become. A cornerstone of our heritage as Presbyterians is the concept that having been once reformed, we are always in the process of reforming as we understand more fully God’s word and call in each new time. And so we are.”
Not everyone, he said, “joins me in celebrating these actions. But regardless of where we are on these issues, all of us are truly one in Christ, and we are all part of a denomination that seeks to be faithful to God’s word and to God’s call anew in each day and age. … These actions by our highest Council give me great hope that our denomination will continue to be a church marked and shaped by the incrediblewelcome of God, and that we will be able ever more faithfully to bear witness to the justice and love of our Savior Jesus Christ in the world around us today. It is my prayer that our church can live into these actions with grace and love, with hope and joy.”
Celebrating a ‘big day’ in the church
The Rev. Marci Glass used the rainbow seal in her June 20 blog on “Marriage equality in the Presbyterian Church (USA).”
“This is a big day for our church,” she wrote. “This allows us to live into our calling to welcome ALL people, to baptize, to feed at the table, to nurture, to care for, to celebrate their marriages.”
In her blog, Glass wondered why “many churches will leave and many international church partners will sever ties with us because of these changes.”
She asked the churches that are considering leaving the PCUSA over the decision, “How are you being hurt by allowing a persecuted minority group the rights and privileges you have long held, without removing your rights and privileges? Why do you need to leave our fellowship if nothing is being changed in how you worship, serve in mission, and live out your life in faith?”
And to the ecumenical international partners who may leave, she asked, “have you not heard of mutual forbearance? We extend it to you in order to be in relationship with you. Many of our international Christian partners don’t recognize the gifts of women in leadership. That doesn’t mean we don’t talk to you.”
To the churches and people who are considering leaving the denomination, she said, “You don’t have to go. None of us want you to. We don’t want you to have to change the way you live out your life in faith. We have just been working for that same privilege to be extended to everyone in our fellowship. Now that we have equality, we hope you won’t feel the need to leave.”
As for the PCUSA’s international partners, she said that “We hope you’ll stay in relationship with us as well. We trust our faith is strengthened by your witness, no matter how different our culture, our context, or our biblical interpretation might be.”
The PCUSA’s rainbow seal can also be found at: