GA News: Committee rejects new definition of marriage

SAN JOSE — By a vote of 38-20 on Tuesday (June 24) the Assembly Committee on Church Polity rejected a proposal from Baltimore Presbytery that would have changed the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) constitutional definition of marriage from a man and a woman to “two people.”

Passion, anger, deep-seated pain, and a great love of the church were evidenced during the debate throughout the day. During a lengthy deliberation of the overture, (Item 04-08) minister commissioner Jay Hull of Nevada Presbytery stated, “I am not hearing any compelling scriptural evidence to
redefine marriage.”

Speaking in favor of the overture the Rev. Bill Myers of Great Rivers Presbytery said, “There is no clear and common standard for purity for those who find themselves created and called to be in committed monogamous and godly gay and lesbian relationships,” stating that this overture would allow gay and lesbian Presbyterians a standard.

The committee paused for a reading of Matthew 5:1-16 followed by prayer before voting to disapprove the overture with a pastoral comment (38-20-1).

The committee then considered Item 04-13 to study same-sex families and affirm civil rights for those families. This was approved (46-10-1).

Business continued into the evening with the committee considering a commissioner resolution on urging a gracious and pastoral response to congregations seeking to leave the denomination. The motion (Item 04-28) was approved by a 49-3-1vote.

Finally, the committee revisited the question of membership vows (04-02) approved Monday by reconsidering and substituting new language. The new language allows the session of a congregation to provide the form of a new member’s confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior rather than dictating a rite. This motion was approved by a 50-2 vote.