As an expression of our commitment to the traditional polity and connectionalism of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and motivated by a desire to remain faithful to our ordination vows, we find that because our conscience is captive to the Word of God, as expressed in scripture and our Book of Confessions, we are compelled to reject any interpretation of G-6.0106b that would categorically exclude persons from ordained service solely because they are in a relationship other than a civil contract between a man and a woman. It is our intention to prayerfully and faithfully work within our Constitution in considering persons for ordained service, as we discern the leading of the Holy Spirit.
We take this position for the following reasons:
- The interpretation of G-6.0106b that categorically excludes persons from ordained service solely because they are in a relationship other than a civil contract between a man and a woman is the biblical and confessional stance of one particular group of people over that of another within our denomination. The imposition of one interpretation through the exercise of power is contrary to the long held principle of mutual forbearance toward each other as stated in G-1.0305.
- We believe that purporting a particular interpretation of scripture to the point of enforcement is intrinsically a confessional matter and therefore must be required to achieve the approval of two thirds of the presbyteries, along with the approval of the next ensuing General Assembly, as per G-18.0201.
- According to G-6.0107, the right of God’s people to elect their officers is inalienable. However, a narrow interpretation of G-6.0106b restricts the right of congregations and presbyteries to freely discern the Holy Spirit when choosing leaders.
- G-6.0106a provides guidance for interpreting G-6.0106b when discerning those called to the offices of deacon, elder, and minister of the Word and Sacrament. In particular, we lift up the instruction to seek people of “strong faith, dedicated discipleship, and love of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.”
- G-5.0101 states that no person “shall be denied membership because of race, ethnic origin, worldly condition, or any other reason not related to profession of faith.” G-5.0202 states that an active member is “entitled to all the rights and privileges of the church, including the right. . . to vote and hold office.” Categorically denying a group of people the right to hold office because they do not meet the subjective theological interpretation of a narrow majority of the presbyteries creates a two tier system of membership contrary to the historic principles of our denomination.
- We affirm the historic preliminary principle of our denomination “that no Church governing body ought to pretend to make laws to bind the conscience in virtue of their own authority.” Enforcing a narrow interpretation of G-6.0106b is an attempt to bind the conscience of churches and presbyteries as they seek those called by Christ into ministries of the church.
Our declaration leads us to say:
- In fulfilling the responsibility of examining those elected as elders and deacons (G-14.0205), we will be guided by the entire Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We will, after prayerful discernment, continue to ordain and install those whom we believe are called and equipped to be elders and deacons in the Church of Jesus Christ.
- We will respect the right of the other churches in our presbytery to choose their leaders. We trust their ability to discern the Holy Spirit.
- We ask that the churches of our presbytery trust our ability to discern the Holy Spirit.