It's official. A news bulletin from the Office of the General Assembly reports:
"It appears that a majority of the 173 presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have approved a change in PC(USA) ordination standards.
At its meeting on Tuesday, May 10, 2011, the Presbytery of Twin Cities Area became the 87th presbytery to approve an amendment that will remove the constitutional requirement that all ministers, elders, and deacons live in 'fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness' (G-6.0106b in the church’s Book of Order)."
Those who read the new constitutional language carefully will discover it's really an affirmation of the historic freedom of local congregations (in the case of deacons and elders) and presbyteries (in the case of ministers) to seek to discern God's will as they choose their own leaders.
Now we'll see if the media is capable of reporting that nuance.
Hold onto the FAQ list related to this issue, that I posted in the previous blog entry. It just may come in handy.
We may be in for a rough ride. Or not. Some in the church will be predictably outraged by this decision, while others - especially a large majority of the younger generation of Presbyterians - will likely say: "What's the big deal? We just hope the church is finally done fighting over this change, which just seems like common sense to us."
Here's the perspective of the General Assembly Moderator, Elder Cynthia Bolbach:
Wherever on the theological spectrum readers of this blog may find themselves, let's all pray for the peace, unity and purity of the church. The prayer offered by our denominational leadership in their pastoral letter (cited in the OGA's article) puts it beautifully:
Almighty God, we give thanks for a rich heritage of faithful witnesses to the gospel throughout the ages. We offer gratitude not only for those who have gone before us, but for General Assembly commissioners and presbyters across the church who have sought diligently to discern the mind of Christ for the church in every time and place, and especially in this present time.
May your Spirit of peace be present with us in difficult decisions, especially where relationships are strained and the future is unclear. Open our ears and our hearts to listen to and hear those with whom we differ. Most of all, we give thanks for Jesus Christ, our risen Savior and Lord, who called the Church into being and who continues to call us to follow his example of loving our neighbor and working for the reconciliation of the world. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.