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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summary of General Assembly Action on Marriage

The following summary was put together by the General Assembly Mission Agency staff:

Summary of General Assembly Action on Marriage

The 221st General Assembly took two actions regarding marriage:

1. The first was an Authoritative Interpretation allowing pastoral discretion to conduct
same-gender marriages in states where such marriages are legal. This went into effect
immediately on conclusion of the General Assembly.
     o The action that passed by a vote of 371 to 238.
     o Teaching elders are empowered to use their discretion in performing marriage
ceremonies, including civil unions permitted by the law and have the
responsibility to assess the readiness of a couple to be married.
     o This action expressly does not require that congregations, sessions, or teaching
elders perform civil unions or same-gender marriages. Congregations and their
sessions still have the right to decide what happens in their facilities.

2. The second was a recommendation to change language in the Book of Order to indicate
that “marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man
and a woman.”
     o The Book of Order change requires the approval of a majority of presbyteries
within the next year.
     o The action that passed by a vote of 429 to 175.

Both decisions came with much discussion and prayer on the part of the General Assembly

We continue to be in dialogue, both in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and among our
international partners. We will not end relations with a mission partner because of differing
opinions and pray that those who may disagree with this action will remain in relationship to
continue the work of the church.

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