Civil marriage for same-sex couples
Presbytery of Baltimore votes
51-35 to approve a resolution supporting civil marriage for same gender
Peter K. Nord, Executive Presbyter, has explained this
important action in an open letter.
November 19, 2004
Now I appeal to you, brothers and
sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in
agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united
the same mind and the same purpose.
I Corinthians 1:10
To the Christians of the Presbytery of
Last night the Presbytery voted 51-35 to
support the resolution put forth by Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian
Church. This resolution puts the Presbytery on record as supporting civil
marriage for same gender couples, becoming a signatory on an amicus brief
which will be filed in a judicial case that would support such marriage, and
directing our public advocacy efforts to lobby against those actions which
would limit such marriages.
It is important to remember that this
action neither changes nor challenges the Constitution of the Presbyterian
Church. The Constitution defines marriage as occurring between one man and
one woman and does not permit Presbyterian ministers to perform marriages
for same gender couples.
Seven sessions went on record supporting
Brown Memorial-Park Avenue's resolution, and individual presbyters are
pleased with this action which they understand to be a vote for justice and
equality. Other sessions either urged no action or defeat -- in some cases
out of concern for what this resolution will do to the peace, unity, and
purity of the church or because they feel in their heart that civil marriage
violates their understanding of scripture.
As Presbyterians we have always followed
John Calvin's admonition to hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in
the other. We recognize that God is sovereign over all and that it is
appropriate for us to advocate so that the Kingdom of God is exhibited on
earth. Throughout our history we have disagreed with each other to the very
core of our being -- about things such as slavery, prohibition, the
ordination of women, and divorce. And there have been periods when these
disagreements have torn the very fabric of our being.
I firmly believe that both the will of God
and the discernment of the way of God comes forth from the exchange of
beliefs. When opposing views are held in tension, we are more likely to
discern more of God's truth than when this tension is set aside.
For those who are most discomforted by the
decision of Presbytery, I write to say that I know how painful these actions
are for you. I hold you in my prayers and invite the Presbytery to join me
in those prayers. I am confident that the last Word has not yet been heard.
In the coming weeks, I will be inviting a group of the more moderate voices
to come together to look at how we do our work as a Presbytery, and I hope
that you will support them in their efforts as well.
In the meantime, I pray that your hearts
will be filled with the season -- thanksgiving for the blessings of God and
the ministries in which we are engaged both locally and beyond the local
church -- and openness to the incarnational spirit of God which comes to us
in both the infant Jesus and the most unexpected ways.
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!