We recommend that the following motions be substituted for the Committee report.
1. We move that the following Pastoral Letter be substituted for the recommended action on Item 06-09, and that the letter be sent to all sessions in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from the 219th General Assembly (2010).
2. We move that the 219th General Assembly (2010) approve Item 06-04.
The Pastoral Letter is a proactive and loving way to encourage sessions to repent of past neglect of the LGBT community and to reach out to that community with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.
Currently there is NO definitive guidance offered to the church on this matter, and this action would restore definitive guidance that the church has had available for the past thirty years.
July 10, 2010
Dear Church Session within the PC(USA),
The 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from July 2 through July 10, 2010, was a special time of meeting new friends, renewing old friendships, and hearing new life stories. Again, the ordination standards for church officers within the PC (U.S.A.) were examined within the context of the instruction of our church Constitution that “… [i]nsofar as Christ’s will for the Church is set forth in Scripture, it is to be obeyed…” and that “… matters are to be ordered according to the Word by reason and sound judgment, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit” (Book of Order, G-1.0100c.).
Our hope in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was renewed as we heard many stories from brothers and sisters in Christ, from within our church. We were amazed and encouraged as we heard from so many who have experienced God’s abundant grace as their lives were dramatically changed, in obedience to Scripture and the transforming work of Jesus, from sexual practice within same-sex relationships to living in fidelity within the covenant of marriage to a person of opposite gender, or experiencing God’s strength as they lived in celibacy in singleness. God’s Holy Spirit was upon us as we heard life testimonies that affirmed the theme of the General Assembly: “…‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water”’” (John 7:37–38).
As we heard story after story, our awareness of the marginalization of members of the LGBT community by our churches has been heightened. We repent for this neglect in the demonstration of the love of Christ to these individuals.
While maintaining current constitutional ordination standards for officers, we urge sessions throughout the PC (U.S.A.) to seriously examine attitudes and practices towards LGBT persons within the churches they oversee, as well as the communities they serve. We also ask sessions to consider joining this General Assembly in our repentance as we, with greater intent, engage in more specific ministries to the LGBT community—ministries that brings new hope and the joy of life through Jesus Christ’s transforming love.
In the name of the Giver of Living Water,
The 219th General Assembly (2010)
Larry Lindsay, Presbytery of Santa Barbara
John Wamsley, Presbytery of South Louisiana
Danny C. Murphy, Presbytery of the Trinity
Daniel McMillan, Presbytery of South Alabama
Robert Powell, Presbytery of Plains and Peaks
Benjamin Peak, Presbytery of Susquehanna Valley
Keith Sandell, Presbytery of Baltimore
Chuck Dobbins, Presbytery of Tres Rios
Donna Rivett, Presbytery of Tropical Florida
David Moody, Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois
Daniel Packer, Presbytery of Charleston-Atlantic
Jack Emerick, Presbytery of Washington
Jeffrey Ogden, Presbytery of Stockton
General Assembly Committee Moderator’s statement:
In accordance with Standing Rule E.7.h.(1), I affirm that the position expressed as recommendation for action by the assembly in this minority report was presented to the whole committee during its consideration of the matter.