Posts tagged ‘Marriage Equality’

June 24, 2012

Statement on Marriage for the 220th General Assembly

That All May Freely Serve

Statement on Marriage for the 220th General Assembly

Through the efforts of many and the strong voices of justice and love, the PC(USA) has led the way in the ordination of women, the welcoming of teaching elders in same gender marriages as installed pastors and other ordained positions, and the calling of candidates who are LGBT based on their preparedness and not on gender identity.

With many others, That All May Freely Serve believes we are now called to complete our circle of family, assuring that the covenant of love between same gender-loving couples be included. We believe that same gender marriages should be recognized as a permanent witness to the love and care God has given us to share.

That All May Freely Serve calls upon the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), convening on June 29, 2012 in Pittsburgh, PA, to provide teaching elders with immediate relief to extend pastoral care in officiating at same gender-loving couples’ marriages in states where such marriages are legal. Further, we call upon this Assembly to send to the presbyteries for approval changes to the Constitution of the PC(USA) removing restrictive language that defines marriage in terms which exclude same gender-loving couples.

Therefore:

That All May Freely Serve prays that the Assembly will pass an Authoritative Interpretation of W-4.9000 which will authorize teaching elders (ministers of Word and Sacrament) and ruling elders commissioned to pastoral service to officiate at marriages of same gender-loving couples in the context of Christian worship, also permitting Councils (Sessions) to allow the use of church property for such services.

And further:

That All May Freely Serve calls upon the Assembly to send to the presbyteries for ratification a change in the language of W-4.9000, so that teaching elders and ruling elders commissioned to pastoral service may exercise unencumbered pastoral care and discretion for same gender and different gender loving couples in officiating at such marriages.

That All May Freely Serve believes there can be no half-measures on this path of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. With others, we continue the work of opening the way for broad and inviting Spirit of God in the PC(USA), embracing all our sisters and brothers and celebrating in the wonder of God’s love in many ways, including through the covenant of marriage for same gender-loving couples.

May 16, 2012

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

May 16, 2012

Ray Bagnuolo: Courage in The Redwoods

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Presbytery of the Redwoods took a stand on Tuesday morning. They really took a stand. Rather than accepting the ruling of the GAPJC and its rebuke of The Rev. Dr. Janie Adams Spahr for marrying same gender loving couples during the time in California when such weddings were legal — rather than sitting quietly while one of their own was censured — they opposed the rebuke.

Yes. They opposed the rebuke; by a vote of 74 to 18, the Presbytery stood with Janie. They stood with the minister who has been a part of the presbytery for more than 38 years. They stood with one another and with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community and by their action said what the courts did not say: The church is wrong; we support our minister and really mean it when we say that all are welcome here. We accept responsibility for the actions of our minister; we stand with her. If you have any questions about this, see us. Leave her alone. She and our other pastors have work to do.

In this unprecedented action, something has shifted in this church. Something has been put into motion that is hard to know at this point, but will surely have an impact in our efforts to continue the work of a building a fully welcoming church for all in the PC(USA).

By this action, The Presbytery of the Redwoods has invited other councils and presbyteries to do the same. They have invited churches and governing bodies to pass their own statements of support for this presbytery; statements that affirm full pastoral care and inclusion of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender community in the work and worship of this church under the care of its ministers. Statements that say enough with scapegoating our LGBT community; enough of the inherent violence in these trials and rebukes. It’s time for this to change. Enough. It’s time to get back to who we really are as loving Christians, loving one another — in word and action.

Thank you to all in The Presbytery of the Redwoods for stepping up in this most important of ways.

May 3, 2012

Janie Spahr Update: Redwoods Presbytery Meeting

The Stated Meeting of The Presbytery of the Redwoods will be held on Tuesday, May 15, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. The Permanent Judicial Commission’s report on the Rev. Dr. Jane Adams (Janie) Spahr’s GAPJC decision is scheduled for 11:15 a.m.

Summary of the Decision:

Same-sex marriages were sanctioned by the State of California from June 20, 2008, through November 4, 2008. During that time period Spahr performed wedding ceremonies for approximately sixteen same-sex couples.

In 2010, a prosecuting committee of the Presbytery brought charges against Spahr for officiating at these ceremonies and a three day trial was held before the PPJC in August of 2010. At the conclusion of the trial the PPJC found her guilty of three of the four charges, issued a Rebuke, and enjoined her “to avoid such offenses in the future.” The three charges read in salient part as follows:

  1. Committing the offense of representing that a same-sex ceremony was a marriage by performing a ceremony in which two women were married under the laws of the State of California and thereafter signing their Certificate of Marriage as the person solemnizing the marriage;
  2. Persisting in a pattern or practice of disobedience concerning an authoritative interpretation of the Book of Order, in that under the laws of the State of California, she represented that no fewer than fifteen such additional ceremonies she performed were marriages of persons of the same sex;
  3. Acting in violation of the authoritative interpretation of the Book of Order by failing to be governed by the polity of the PC(USA) in violation of her ordination vows.

The Legal Defense Team is asking the Presbytery to not rebuke Janie; in fact, to refuse to impose the censure.

There is a possibility Janie, the couples, and supporters will be given an opportunity to speak during the presbytery meeting.

Make plans to attend!

First Presbyterian Church of San Anselmo
72 Kensington Road
San Anselmo, CA 94960
 
Follow Rev. Jane Spahr Trial Updates on Facebook.
May 25, 2011

Letter from Minnesota: Dear friends and family…

A friend of TAMFS, Heather Ferguson, wrote this letter to her friends and family. Deeply moved, we share it with you:
_______________

Dear friends and family,

Since the late-night Saturday vote at the Minnesota Legislature that put a constitutional amendment banning legal recognition of same-sex marriage on the Minnesota ballot in 2012, I have had to call up courage just to breathe.

I have been confronted these past 3 weeks as deeply as I can ever remember.

I was raised with a powerful faith in the ideals of our United States of America: the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; of liberty and justice for all. Sitting through legislative proceedings was a gut-wrenching experience (as many know from seeing media coverage, including http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/05/18/same-sex-amendment/).

Today I am feeling a grave violation of those promises.

You all know of, and many of you were there to witness, Annika’s and my wedding 20 years ago this year. Because you have journeyed with us through our lives, you understand that Annika, Josiah and Gabe are the greatest gifts, the greatest blessings I have been given.

I want to introduce you to my new hero, because right now, he can say what needs to be said better than I can. His name is John Kriesel, and he is a Republican legislator in Minnesota, whose story goes like this:

If this was 5, 6 years ago, I probably would have voted ‘yes.’ (in favor of banning same-sex marriage) ‘Cause I didn’t think about it. I just thought about my family. I thought about what affects my wife and kids and nothing else.

“Everything changed. I went to Iraq. I was in an incident. I nearly died. I remember laying there, looking down and seeing my legs mangled, and pretty much guaranteeing that I was done. I was a done deal. I thought that was where my life was going to end.

“And I remember thinking of my wife. And my kids. That’s what crossed my mind. And that’s what kept me fighting; the love I have for them.

“It woke me up. It changed me. Because of that, it’s made me think about this issue. And say, ‘You know what, what would I do without my wife?’ She makes me happy. Life is hard. We’re in a really tough time in our history. Happiness is so, so hard to find for people. So they find it, they find someone that makes them happy, and we want to take that person away. We want to say, ‘Oh no, you can be together, you can love that person, but you can’t marry them.’ You can’t marry them. That’s wrong.”

Rep. Kriesel led 4 Republicans to vote No against the constitutional amendment. And the sad truth is, a couple Democrats voted Yes for this initiative that hurts families like mine, while helping no one.

So we can’t rest easy. This is not partisan politics. This is about the well being of all families, and I urge you to stay informed by signing up for http://www.minnesotansunitedforallfamilies.com

In closing, let me just say that I’m trying to understand this in the way I do a big blizzard, where what you thought you’d be doing (or would rather be doing) stops and instead you go out and get to work shoveling, helping others in the process and then at least being grateful that Minnesota’s harsh climate has brought people together. Here, the work is talking to people both who believe in fairness and who are unsure, so that together we can have a deeper understanding about why this constitutional amendment is wrong for Minnesota.

If you are in Minnesota, or have loved ones here, let’s stay in touch about how to work together to defeat this. And whether you live here or elsewhere, please give as generously as you can to an organization I know personally and hold in the highest esteem:  http://www.outfront.org/donate. The link is titled “membership” — this is their standard donation form.

love — really, really, so much love to you for all you mean to us — throughout our lifetime, as well as at this very difficult time,
Heather