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GA News: Assembly Approves Development of New Human Development and Sexuality Resources for Adolescents

A Church Growth and Christian Education Committee recommendation to produce human development resources for adolescents was approved by the 218th General Assembly Wednesday (June 25) after deliberations that included passionate, personal arguments for and against the creation of what was expected to take form as a new curriculum.

 

            Olivia Wilson, a youth advisory delegate from Grace Presbytery, the sponsor of the overture, said she had been a student in a workshop that used the God’s Gift of Sexuality curriculum that was discontinued by action of the 217th General Assembly.

            “It is important for me and my faith to learn what the church says about sexuality,” Wilson said. “From the curriculum I learned what it means to be made in God’s image and respect who I am. I learned I am a spiritual being as well as a sexual being, and I should be responsible with my choices. It is important that we learn these things so we can experience God’s Spirit with all our lives.”

            Wilson was not the only young adult at the assembly with strong opinions about the committee’s recommendation. Several youth advisory delegates weighed in on the motion and urged amendments.

            Clay Ellis, also of Grace Presbytery and the pastor of a Confessing Church, spoke in favor of the committee’s recommendation. “We must learn to talk to each other about sexuality to be able to articulate where we stand. This is an opportunity before us. There are risks attached to it. We must find a way to come together.”

            “There is one thing we can be certain of,” said Commissioner Nancy Drake, also of Grace Presbytery. “Our children will have a sex education. They will get it from movies and TV if we don’t give them a curriculum to learn. I would love to see us have something they can work on with their mentors in the faith.”

            Two commissioners brought forth amendments that would have altered the language of the recommendation for the proposed resources to define marriage and appropriate modes of sexual expression. These amendments failed.

            As it became clear that many who were speaking for and against the motion and amendments were members of the very committee that had approved the overture with comment, one commissioner asked the moderator if it was appropriate for all the issues the committee had debated for two days to come up again on the floor.

            “Welcome to General Assembly,” Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow responded.

            The General Assembly approved the original motion, to direct the General Assembly Council to produce adolescent human development resources based upon Scripture and the Reformed theological tradition that would explore all facets of adolescent development including human sexuality, by a strong margin of votes.

            Questions remain about how these resources will be developed and funded.  The financial impact of producing a curriculum is projected to be $108,495.  When asked to comment on the cost of developing new resources, Congregational Ministries Publishing General Editor Mark Hinds said that the ambiguity of the overture necessitated a very general estimate.  It was not clear whether the assembly was directing the creation of one book for one age group, or a series of resources that “would explore all facets of adolescent development including human sexuality.”

            “There is no money for this,” Hinds said.  “We would have to stop printing something.”

            A motion to amend that would have deferred the development of these resources until the 2011 budget year failed.

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