|Tampa Bay Witherspoon Chapter urges
rejection of Amendment O
A relatively new Witherspoon chapter in Tampa Bay Presbytery has sent a
letter to pastors and clerks urging careful reading of the proposed O.
It might be helpful in other presbyteries as well, as a brief and cogent
Dear Ministers and Sessions,
The Witherspoon Society Chapter, a group of concerned
Presbyterians in Tampa Bay Presbytery, would like to encourage members
and Sessions of Tampa Bay to give careful and prayerful consideration to
the implications of Amendment 00-O, which will come before our
presbytery for a vote in February 2001.
The text of the proposed amendment to our Constitution
bears careful reading:
"Scripture and our Confessions teach that God's
intention for all people is to live either in fidelity within the
covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or in chastity in
singleness. Church property shall not be used for, and church officers
shall not take part in conducting, any ceremony or event that
pronounces blessing or gives approval of the church or invokes the
blessing of God upon any relationship that is inconsistent with God's
intention as expressed in the preceding sentence."
If this amendment should pass, it would be added to
the Directory for Worship in our Constitution. We would like to share
with you a few of our thoughts about this amendment.
1. We think the first sentence is a false statement.
Scripture is a living Word whose meaning is not closed or static. God's
intention, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, unfolds in the
prayerful study of Scripture and in the gathered community of faith from
age to age. New Confessions arise in each age to give voice to faith in
a changing world. God is certainly able to speak
2. We think the second sentence, apart from the fact
that it rests on a false premise, goes against the spirit of the
Directory for Worship which is permissive rather than prohibitive in its
language. The Directory for Worship ordinarily describes what churches
may do or shall do, not what they shall not do.
Furthermore, to prohibit church officers from blessing a relationship
seriously impinges on an officer's faith and freedom. It ignores an
officer's particular knowledge of the persons in her or his family of
faith and calls into question his or her good judgment.
We honor the covenant of marriage. We also honor the
fact that some are called to remain single. But we also know, love,
honor, and respect people of faith who do not fit these two categories.
We hope you will join us in opposing Amendment 00-O.
Rev. Charlene M. Heaton
Witherspoon Society Chapter Moderator
They also enclosed a bookmark-style card with the
following list of messages. (This was composed by the chapter as a
whole, at a chapter meeting.)
What messages does the blessing of holy unions send to
|that we rejoice with those who have found a
companion with whom to share life, love, sorrow, and joy|
|that we admire people whose faith is so central to
their lives that it's important to their relationship|
|that we publicly support those who, in the covenant
tradition of our faith, wish to make a public commitment of fidelity
to the person they love|
|that we affirm committed relationships marked by
mutuality and love|
|that we honor freedom of conscience, of
congregations, and of ministry|
|that we celebrate the diversity of God's world,
including diversity of sexual orientation|
|that we feel called to give confidence to our
children to oppose the systemic prejudice present in our culture.|
The Witherspoon Society
Tampa Bay Chapter
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!