PORTLAND, Ore. – A proposal that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) withdraw from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice drew considerable discussion from commissioners late in the night on June 23 – but the 2016 General Assembly eventually voted not to do it.
That proposal – a commissioners’ resolution (Item 10-16) – garnered the most energy in the report from the assembly’s Mission Coordination committee. The committee had recommended disapproval of the item – and the assembly voted 431-132 to sustain the committee’s recommendation and not to withdraw from the coalition.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) states on their website that it is “a national community of religious organizations and faithful individuals dedicated to achieving reproductive justice. Through education, organizing and advocacy, we seek to elevate religious voices wherever faith, policy and our reproductive lives intersect.”
Those speaking against the committee’s recommendation to disapprove argued that the RCRC advocates one position on abortion – pro-choice. Commissioner Mickey Stueck, a ruling elder from the Presbytery of Santa Barbara, said the RCRC, “does not respect our diversity of views abortion.” Young adult advisory delegate Esther Lee of the Presbytery of Detroit also supported withdrawing from the coalition, contending that “RCRC’s views are too extreme.”
Speaking in favor of disapproval, young adult advisory delegate Grace Segers of the Presbytery of Long Island urged commissions to look at the RCRC’s website, saying that, “I believe the RCRC has been misrepresented” in some of the assembly’s discussion.
The assembly’s vote means the PC(USA) will remain in relationship with the RCRC.
Other business items from the Mission Coordination committee which the assembly approved included:
- 10-08 Report of the Special Offerings Review Task Force;
- 10-10 Living Missionally;
- 10-11 A Resolution to Contribute to a Proactive, Health-Giving Ministry to and Relationship with Our Clergywomen – from the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns;
- 10-13 On Achieving a 5:1 Ratio Between the Highest-Paid and Lowest-Paid Employees of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
An item that took up much time in committee – Item 10-03, an overture from Pitttsburgh Presbytery on addressing the plight of the African American male- — was quickly and overwhelmingly passed in plenary.