The Covenant Network of Presbyterians has selected a new executive director. Brian Ellison, who has served as chair of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Mission Responsibility Through Investing (MRTI) Committee and is pastor of Parkville Presbyterian Church near Kansas City, Mo., will begin work for the Covenant Network on August 1.
The Covenant Network is an advocacy group which has worked for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual people in the PC(USA). Its former executive director, Pamela Byers, has retired.
At the 2012 General Assembly, the Covenant Network will work to maintain the changes that the church has made over the past two years to its ordination standards, allowing (but not requiring) gay and lesbian candidates who are in relationships to be ordained. The Covenant Network also supports overtures that would grant discretion to pastors to perform same-gender weddings in states where such marriages are legal.
Ellison, who will not begin his new job until the assembly ends, will represent a proposal that MRTI is presenting that the PC(USA) divest from three companies doing business in Israel. MRTI has determined that Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions are engaged in nonpeaceful pursuits and that further attempts by the PC(USA) to negotiate with them will not be fruitful.
Both same-gender marriage and the proposed divestment are likely to be among the more controversial issues this assembly will face.
In announcing his new position, Ellison also publicly revealed that he lives with Troy Lillebo, who works in higher education and is his partner of nine years.