Moving toward the 217th
Overtures on Ordination
Light Presbyterians offers legislative recommendations
More Light Presbyterians
has issued a brief statement of their recommendations for action on the
various overtures dealing with ordination -- and the Theological Task Force
report -- which will be considered by the 217th General Assembly.
The Covenant Network of Presbyterians has announced its support of the
Peace, Unity and Purity report, and its appreciation of the report as
presenting the church with "a remarkable moment of hope that will not come
again soon." [5-9-06]
Acknowledging with regret that "the Covenant Network has contributed to a
partisan spirit in the denomination by our tendency to draw apart from those
who differ with us," the group will not, as it has in the past, suggest to
commissioners how they might act on particular overtures or other issues.
The statement says, however, that the Network will
"continue to support these overtures [for the removal of G-6.0106b from the
Book of Order], trusting that the Spirit will lead the commissioners to a
faithful response to the Task Force report and the related overtures they
The full statement >>
Presbyterians calls the church to do RIGHT -- NOW
Dear friends of More Light Presbyterians,
We invite you to take a stand and
speak out for equality - Right Now.
As the 2006 General Assembly in Birmingham this June draws near, despite the
clear voice from the twenty-two overtures calling for the elimination
of anti-gay policies and laws from the Presbyterian Church, we're already
hearing the same voices of fear and equivocation that we always hear, year
"Now is not the time."
"We can't move too quickly."
"We don't want to offend anyone."
"There must be some third way."
"Let's have a moratorium on legislative change."
We say: ENOUGH.
The time for equality is now. Right. Now.
The board of directors of More Light Presbyterians has unanimously approved
the Call to Justice - Right Now
statement that you can read below. We invite you to
join as a co-signer in support...
Click here to add your support to
the MLP "Right Now" statement.
Beyond just your support, we invite you to add your voice. In a first for
our movement, our new online petition system allows you to enter your
comments on the Right Now statement and the need for equality. More Light
Presbyterians will share your comments and stories with commissioners to the
2006 General Assembly and with other denominational leaders. Your voice will
So tell your friends. Share this message with your church lists. Tell the
world. Read the MLP Call to Justice,
and sign on to support
equality. Because the time for equality is now. Right. Now.
READ THE STATEMENT AND SIGN ON IN SUPPORT...
More Light Presbyterians
March 18, 2006
A Call to Justice
Justice knows no season.
"The time is always ripe to do right."
- Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter
from Birmingham Jail
The time is RIGHT NOW for disciples of Jesus Christ to stand up
for those denied full participation in our church - lesbian, gay,
transgender sisters and brothers whom God has called to ministry.
Recommendations that would maintain the church’s discriminatory policy
ordination say once again to "wait", "be patient", "the time is not
"There is such a thing as being too late...
We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
The time is right now to move beyond our fears:
fear of the unknown
fear of denominational schism
fear of those who are different
Jesus proclaimed a bold faith, challenging disciples to "Fear not!"
It is time do right, now, and trust God’s inclusive love.
"God is love... There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out
1 John 4:16,18
The peace, unity and purity that the church seeks cannot and will not
at the price of denying justice and equality. Our scriptures and our
prophets teach us that our dream of community
requires an equal place at the table for all God's children.
"I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s
dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood
for lesbian and gay people."
- Coretta Scott King
The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls for
Peace with justice
Unity with equality
Purity with wholeness.
The time is
Sign on in support of this statement at
Presbyterians is a
member-supported, 501c(3) organization which works for the full
participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in
the life, ministry and witness of the
New York City
Presbytery sends ordination overture to General Assembly .... # 21 and
Sessions from 12
churches joined in sending an overture to the New York City Presbytery,
which was passed by a landslide affirmation yesterday, January 31, 2006.
NYC's vote means that to date 21 presbyteries are sending ordination
overtures to the 217th General Assembly.
This report comes to us from
the Rev. Mieke Vandersall, Minister Director of
January 31, 2006
I am proud to announce the affirmative vote of the New York City
Presbytery to concur with the Heartland Overture, with our own rationale.
The presbytery met today and the vote was a stand/sit vote. I could only
count about 7 people who stood in opposition with perhaps 75 standing for
the overture. The moderator quickly ruled that the overture passed and the
numbers were not counted.
Elders Jim Nedelka and Esther Sohn articulately presented the overture
which was passed by the sessions of the following congregations:
Church of the Gethsemane
First Presbyterian, Astoria
First Presbyterian, NYC
Jan Hus Presbyterian
Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian
St. James Presbyterian
Many thanks to the great commissioners who stayed very late for this meeting
to vote and to make our position known! Presbyterian Welcome coordinated
this good effort and we are proud of how we have all come together.
Here (at last) is the full text of the first of the overtures
being sent to the General Assembly to "delete B" and provide a new
Authoritative Interpretation that would eliminate earlier official
statements condemning same-sex relationships as a bar to ordination.
For this overture, plus the text of all the concurring
overtures (many with distinctive rationales), go to
PC(USA) web site.
Boston passes ordination overture to remove barriers to full membership &
ministry for LGBT persons and their families |
With an appeal from the
Gospel of Matthew, the Presbytery of Boston has approved a Delete-B/Remove
AI overture calling for an end to discrimination against lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender Presbyterians.
Michael Adee, National Organizer of More Light
Presbyterians, estimates this is the eighteenth presbytery approving an
ordination overture to the General Assembly in Birmingham.
The Rev. Jean Southard, pastor of First Presbyterian
Church, Waltham, MA, reports that the overture was approved "with a very
close vote of 42-40. We had bad weather which could account for some of the
absences." She also calls attention to the distinctive rationale, which
appeals not to justice or rights, but to the need to free our church to be
about its mission from Jesus: "feeding, clothing, housing, visiting and
Overture for the 217th GA (2006)
On issuing an
authoritative interpretation clarifying standards for ordination, and
The Presbytery of Boston respectfully overtures the 217th General
Assembly (2006) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to do the following:
1. Provide the following authoritative interpretation:
statements concerning ordained service of homosexual church members by the
190th General Assembly (1978) of the United Presbyterian Church in the
United States of America and the 119th General Assembly (1979) of the
Presbyterian Church in the United States, and all subsequent affirmations
thereof, have no further force or effect.
2. Direct the Stated Clerk
to send the following proposed amendment to the presbyteries for their
affirmative or negative votes:
Shall G-6.0106b be
stricken and shall G-6.0106a be renumbered as G-6.0106?
The Gospel of Matthew
tells us that the last words of Jesus to his disciples were a commissioning:
to "make disciples," to "baptize them," and to "teach them to obey"
everything that Jesus commanded. A list of his commandments for us today
would include, at a minimum, "love one another," "feed my lambs … tend my
sheep," and "do to others as you would have them do to you."
For some years now, the church has been
sorely ineffective in reaching disciples and in teaching them to care for
those most in need. Sadly, even those already in the church have been
negligent in meeting the tasks of feeding, clothing, housing, visiting and
welcoming. In significant part, our preoccupation with the matters which are
addressed by G-6.0106b and by the various interpretative statements on
ordination of homosexuals has caused us to fall far short of Jesus’ great
The time has come for all in the church
to repent of our preoccupations. The repeal of G-6.0106b and the negating of
the interpretative statements will allow us to do just that. If we can
honestly and respectfully relate to one another, we will realize that the
removal of these provisions will lead neither to the wholesale ordination of
unqualified or unworthy candidates to the offices of the church, nor to the
creation of a "right" to ordination for any class of candidates. Rather,
such an action will return ordination decisions to the hands of our
governing bodies, where we can expect such decisions to be handled with
integrity, discernment and prayer. When that happens, we can assume with
confidence that, in the wisdom of the Reformed tradition and with the
guidance of the Holy Spirit, the church’s ordained leadership will continue
to be composed of those whom God would entrust with leadership.
Our energies can then refocus on those
who are hungry in body and those who are hungry in spirit.
|Cincinnati Presbytery passes
overture to amend 1978 GA Policy Statement on homosexuality - a call from
the Midwest for change! [1-14-06]|
Today the Cincinnati Presbytery has sent an overture to the
GA that would seek to delete seven of the most insulting statements in the
GA's 1978 Policy on Homosexuality. The vote was 79 to 74 with 4
abstentions. Three reports,
plus the text of the overture
|"Delete B" overtures are multiplying|
Chicago Presbytery passes "Delete B" Ordination Overture by large margin
Thanks to Michael Adee of More Light Presbyterians for this report
The Rev. David Murad of Chicago Presbytery reports that the Presbytery
voted on December 13 to "delete b" by a vote of 147-50. Michael Youngblood
of Evanston Northminster and Michael Kirby of Chicago Good Shepherd
presented the overture.
According to Adee, this vote by a margin of almost 3 to 1
"makes Chicago Presbytery the 16th presbytery so far to support change and
the removal of prejudice, discrimination and the barriers to the full
welcome and affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in
the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA)."
MLP has posted a helpful and encouraging list of overtures
approved earlier by 15 other presbyteries.
The MLP article:
The number of overtures and
concurrences seeking the removal of the anti-LGBT G6.0106b from the
Presbyterian Book of Order and elimination of anti-gay Authoritative
Interpretation has recently surged to 15, with 7 overtures passing in
November alone. A full 2/3 of these overtures have passed after
the PCUSA's Theological
Task Force issued its final report including its widely-criticized
"moratorium on justice" recommendation. This is great news, since every
presbytery that sends a delete-B overture increases the number of voices
calling for equality today.
Here's a summary of overtures and concurrences so far, with links to
specific MLP articles and a vote count when available.
April 19: Heartland Presbytery, 109 yes - 92 no. (
MLP article here)
May 24: Western Reserve, 69 yes - 39 no - 4 abstentions
June 25, 2005: Cascades Presbytery, 92 yes - 61 no (
MLP article here)
June 28: Detroit Presbytery, 120 yes - 77 no (
MLP article here)
August 20: Des Moines Presbytery, 42 yes - 34 no - 2 abstentions (
MLP article here)
September 13: Twin Cities Presbytery, 103 yes - 39 no (
MLP article here) (and see our Witherspoon report)
September 17: Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, 88 yes - 36 no (
MLP article here)
September 27: Genesee Valley Presbytery, 77 yes - 22 no (
MLP article here)
November 8: Lake Michigan Presbytery, approximate vote count 78 yes - 35
MLP article here)
November 8: Newton Presbytery, 50 yes - 35 no (
MLP article here)
November 12: Newark Presbytery
November 12: East Iowa Presbytery
November 17: Baltimore Presbytery, 71 yes - 28 no (
MLP article here)
November 19: Presbytery of Southern New England, 72 yes - 56 no - 3
November 29: Hudson River Presbytery, voice vote (
MLP article here)
MLP offers our
General Assembly Overture FAQ as a resource if you'd like to get a
delete-B overture passed in your Presbytery. The postmark deadline for
overtures to the 2006 General Assembly is Feb. 15.
|Presbytery of Twin Cities Area votes strongly for
overture to delete B
In the first presbytery vote on a delete-B overture since
the PCUSA's Theological Task Force released its widely-criticized report,
the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area voted overwhelmingly on September 13
to send a delete-B overture to the 2006 General Assembly. The vote was 103
in favor, 34 opposed (75% in favor) on the delete-B overture, and 101 in
favor, 41 opposed on the parallel overture to delete the PCUSA's
discriminatory "authoritative interpretation" from the 1970's.
More Light Presbyterians >>
The text of the overture
PRESBYTERY OF THE TWIN CITIES AREA
September 13, 2005
The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area respectfully
overtures the 217th General Assembly (2006) of the Presbyterian
Church (USA) to do the following:
1. Direct the Stated Clerk to send the following proposed
amendment to the Presbyteries for their affirmative or negative votes:
Shall G-6.0l06b be deleted.
b. Those who are called to office in the church are to
lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic
confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the
requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage
between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons
refusing to repent of any self acknowledged practice which the confessions
call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or
ministers of the Word and Sacrament.
2. Approve the following authoritative interpretation, to
take effect upon the affirmative vote of the 217th General
"Interpretative statements concerning ordained service
by homosexual persons by the 190th General Assembly (1978) of
the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, the 191st
General Assembly (1979) of the Presbyterian Church in the United States,
and all subsequent affirmations thereof, shall be given no further force
We believe that the presence of G-60106b
within our Book of Order has created a hostile and divisive
environment in our church that is contrary to God's reconciling love and the
spirit of our Reformed faith. We are greatly saddened over the number of
accusations and judicial cases that have arisen as a result of this measure.
These trials have caused the church to spend inordinate financial and human
resources defending an exclusionary policy that is not an essential of the
Reformed faith, drawing precious resources away from the primary mission of
The effects of compliance with G-6.0106b run counter to
the sentiment of G-5.0103 that "Each member must seek the grace of openness
in extending the fellowship of Christ to all persons." Failure to do this,
it continues, "constitutes a rejection of Christ himself and causes a
scandal to the gospel." We would honor Christ's last prayer with his
disciples that all may be one (John 17:11) and would heed the admonition of
the New Testament writers that we avoid needless controversies lest the body
of Christ be divided.
Presbyterians have historically valued the rights of
governing bodies to make decisions that affect them the most directly,
seeking unity in the essentials of faith but not necessarily in "truths and
forms with respect to which [people] of good characters and principles may
differ." (Book of Order, G-1.0305) Biblical interpretations differ,
and the church may therefore leave it to local governing bodies to act out
of their own faith as discerned together in prayer and under the guidance of
the Holy Spirit when such interpretations are in conflict.
The confessions of our church are valuable guides in our
decisions about ordination and many other issues, but they are always
subordinate to Jesus Christ and the authority of scripture. (Book of
Order, G-1.0307 and G-2.0200; Book of Confessions, 3.18-20, 5.011
- 014, 6.010, and 9.03) Our constitution affirms that "God alone is Lord of
the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of
men which are in anything contrary to his Word, or beside it, in matters of
faith or worship. (Book of Order, G-1.0301; see also G-1.0305 and
0G1.0307; Book of Confessions, 5.010-.014, 6.109, 6.174-.175, 7.215.
The church "is called to be a sign in and for the world of
the new reality which God has made available to people in Jesus Christ,"
reflecting that "(1) Sin is forgiven. (2) Reconciliation is accomplished.
(3) The dividing walls of hostility are torn down.* (Book of Order,
G-3.0200). This leads to an affirmation of diversity and the welcoming
inclusion of all people (Book of Order, G-3.0401, G-4.0203,
G-4.0401-.0403, G-5.0202, and G-9.0104; Book of Confessions,9.06-.07,
9.10, 9.19-.20, 9.22, 9.29, 9.31-33, and 9.44).
We understand our polity and system of ordination to mean
that leaders are called by God and confirmed by the people, and that all
members whose manner of life demonstrates the gospel and who possess the
gifts and training for leadership have opportunities to participate in
leadership. In faiththlness to our call to be good stewards of the resources
entrusted to us, we would affirm and enable ordained service and outreach by
all in whom we discern a call to serve (Book of Order, G-1.0306.
G-4.0402, G-4.0403, G-6.0102, G-6.0107, G-7.0103, G-10.01021, G-14.0201, and
In our continuing struggle on these issues, the Church is
called to be open to God's continuing reformation "according to the Word of
God and the call of the Spirit" (Book of Order,
G-2.0200; see also G-4.0401, G-4.0303, G-10.0102j, and G-18.0101; Book of
Confessions, 9.03 and 9.29).
The overture was
introduced by Faye Knowles, Elder Commissioner from St. Luke Presbyterian
Church, Wayzata, MN
I rise to present the overture adopted by the Session of
St. Luke Presbyterian Church, which will allow churches and presbyteries to
call any whom they believe are fit for ordination as pastor, elder, or
Once upon a time, the Church advocated for slavery, based
upon the reading of the Bible. This is not a fairy tale. Once upon a time,
the Church did not permit women to serve as leaders, based upon the reading
of the Bible. We now recognize that such discrimination was wrong, was
damaging to victim and perpetrator alike, and was, most importantly, unjust.
As a lawyer, I know that good people, educated people,
people of good faith can read a law or even the U.S. Constitution, and
disagree on its meaning. In the same way, such good, educated people of good
faith can do Biblical research, can seek guidance through prayer, and can
look to the example of Jesus, and come to different conclusions about the
ordination of LGBT folks.
Many—St. Luke among them—have concluded that we need to
serve the bread of life and love and caring to those in need, and stop
litigating over who gets to hold the loaf. So this is an overture of mutual
forbearance. We all said it in unison not an hour ago—
"The unity of the church must be visible so that people
around us can see how separation and hatred are overcome in Christ."
This overture will not require churches to ordain LGBT
people. What it will do is permit churches to discern what God is calling
them to do. It will accommodate those who believe that the coming of Jesus
meant a change; that we aren’t living in the Old Testament any longer; that
the good news of the New Testament calls us to do this justice with our LGBT
sisters and brothers.
We recognize that our denomination is almost equally
divided on this issue. Some say wait—wait and discern. We say discern, and
if you will, act. I know—you know—that justice delayed is justice denied.
What does God require of us? We heard Micah’s words tonight: do justice. As
we discern it.
Unity is a laudable goal. Here, the desire for "unity" is
really a desire for some future consensus that most doubt is possible. But
even unity does not supercede God as lord of each conscience—of each
conscience. This overture does not require people to give up following Jesus
in a way they see fit. It gives people the right to follow their calls, when
they know with their whole hearts and with their whole minds that love and
justice through inclusion is the good news. It is what Jesus calls us to do.
I urge this Presbytery to support this overture. Thank