From the Executive Presbyter of Redwoods Presbytery

Dear Members of the Presbytery,Image

Yesterday at our stated meeting, the presbytery voted by a 74/18 majority to express its opposition to the imposition of the rebuke to the ruling by the Presbytery Permanent Judicial Commission, and upheld by the Synod PJC and General Assembly PJC, that the Rev. Dr. Jane Adams Spahr had acted contrary to the Constitution of the PC(USA) when she conducted same gender marriage ceremonies. The entirety of the motion which was approved is attached. There may be a variety of interpretations of the presbytery’s action by members of the presbytery. You may also hear a variety of interpretations by the news media.

The motion was very thoughtfully crafted and carefully worded to express the presbytery’s opposition. In other words, the vote of the presbytery was effectively a collective dissent by an overwhelming majority of members present. While ordinarily expressed by an individual, the opportunity to dissent is provided for in the Constitution of the PC(USA) and is an important means by which a member may express herself or himself. The opportunity to dissent is a value held by the PC(USA) and it is certainly a value held by the Presbytery of the Redwoods. While the action of the presbytery yesterday does not undo the judicial decision, it does express the presbytery’s collective opposition to the imposition of the rebuke. The position of the presbytery by yesterday’s vote is clear. The decisions of the Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly PJCs are also clear. Does this create some ambiguity? Possibly, but it is hardly the first time people of faith have been confronted by ambiguity, and I have every confidence that we will remain firmly grounded as we find our way through it.

The presbytery recognizes that not everyone at the meeting, nor in the presbytery, agrees with the motion that was approved. The opportunity was given and encouraged for any who wanted to dissent from the approved motion to do so, and we expressed our willingness to assist in the dissent or protest process. While none availed themselves of this opportunity, we always seek to display such openness to hearing opposing points of view. This is the way we learn and grow.

Same gender marriage is at the forefront of society, national politics, and the church. The Presbytery of the Redwoods has displayed repeatedly, and did so again yesterday, a way of being and behaving in the midst of challenging issues that is an example for both the church and the world: openness, grace and respect, even in the midst of profound disagreement and pain. I trust this to be the way of Christ for the life of the world.

With my blessing and peace,
Robert E. Conover

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