Archive for November 2009

Yes! Let’s Talk about It

November 11, 2009

I previously posted, “We Don’t Want to Talk About It!” about an overture that was being proposed in my presbytery. This overture would have been sent to the PCUSA General Assembly, requesting mandating yet another study on the state of the church (why membership is declining, with the foregone conclusion of the sponsoring church that it is over LGBT ordination in the church in particular, and queer people and their existence in general); while that study was being conducted, there would have been yet another gag order imposed on conversation in the denomination about G-6.0106b.

Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.

This proposed overture was presented last night. When it came time to debate, no one stood to support the overture. Three people rose in opposition. I was one of those three, going last. I talked about how there have already been numerous studies conducted in both the church and academia and that we should refer to those; but more importantly, that we are called to talk with each other, to resolve our differences before we come to the Table. I was able to refer to some of the things that conservative presbytery members and our own EP had said only minutes earlier about being a mosaic of Godly diversity in a deeply divided society. I received an ovation for my little speech, for which I was grateful.

[It was clear that the strategy employed by the “other side” has become obstruction to the process while refusing to debate the merits of what is being discussed. In the conversation over Amendment 08-B, they realized that their arguments only caused a weakening of their position. Thus no one rising in support of the amendment that THEY THEMSELVES had brought forward.]

The vote was taken first by voice, and there was no way to tell a result. Then we voted by a show of hands. Hands were counted, but someone rose to say that he had no confidence in the tellers (who were quite casual about their counting method); we voted again. People in the room were reminded that only official commissioner had a vote–something we’ve had a problem with in the past. Looking around, it was clearly going to be close.

Finally the results were announced: the amendment failed, 51-53.

Yes, this is a close vote. But it is the first time that the Presbytery of San Gabriel has voted affirmatively on anything having to do with LGBT ordination or any other LGBT-related motion. As a matter of fact, most of the votes have been at least a 2-1 loss for us.

Perhaps it was providence that brought us to this physical place. We met at the church where we had met in 1996, the very church where G-6.1016b was spawned, and the church whose then-pastor served as Overture Advocate. Perhaps it was providence that we prevailed by a two-vote margin–the same margin by which Jack Rogers was elected from San Gabriel Presbytery to serve as GA minister commissioner and to go on to become Moderator of the General Assembly. And perhaps it was providence–the Breath of the Holy Spirit blowing through the Church–that helped us to vote this affirmative way only hours before the Presbytery of San Francisco approved That All May Freely Serve as a validated ministry, and for Lisa Larges to be approved for ordination as Minister of the Word and Sacrament to serve as TAMFS Minister-Coordinator. I never pretend to speak for the Holy One, but it sure felt that way to me.