PresbyMEME: Why I am voting yes on Amendment 10A
Bruce Reyes-Chow, a Presbyterian minister and Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), has provided an opportunity for people to engage in a conversation online about why we are voting yes on Amendment 10-A.
AMENDMENT LANGUAGE IS AS FOLLOWS:
Shall G-6.0106b be amended by striking the current text and inserting new text in its place as follows:
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.
Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G.14.0240; G-14.0450) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.
Questions for the PresbyMEME:
- Name, City, State
- Twitter and Facebook profiles
- Presbytery and 10a voting date
- Reason ONE that you are voting “yes” on 10a is…
- Reason TWO that you are voting “yes” on 10a is…
- Reason THREE that you are voting “yes” on 10a is…
- What are your greatest hopes for the 10a debate that will take place on the floor of your Presbytery?
- How would you respond to those that say that if we pass 10a individuals and congregations will leave the PC(USA)?
- What should the Presbyterian Church focus on after Amendment 10a passes?
- How does your understanding of Scripture frame your position on 10a?
I’m Sonnie Swenston. I’m a member and Clerk of Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Baldwin Park, California. I live in neighboring Covina.
My Twitter name is @HeySonnie. I have livetweeted a number of Presbyterian-related events, including #ga219 and #revjanie. On Facebook, I’m Sonnie Swenston-Forbes. I’m also on the board of That All May Freely Serve, serving as webspinner and as one of the social media coordinators for that group (Facebook, Twitter).
We are in the Presbytery of San Gabriel, and the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii. Our vote on Amendment 10-A is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, March 8, 2011.
The first reason I am voting yes on 10-A is that it is a return to historic Presbyterian values about ordination.
The second reason I am voting yes on 10-A is that it gives us an opportunity to set right something that has been so wrong about the church and ordination standards.
The third reason I am voting yes on 10-A is that so many who have been called by God to serve the church in ordained capacities will be able to do so.
My greatest hopes for the 10-A debate on the floor of my presbytery are: (1) that we will actually have a debate on the floor of presbytery, since there are some on council who would prefer that we move directly to a vote without any conversation prior to the meeting or debate on the floor; (2) that the tone be decent and in order rather than the horrid hateful homophobic rhetoric we have often heard in the past; and (3) that the debate not be a rehashing of the same old points given by the same old voices who we’ve heard from in the past, but that we hear from at least some people who haven’t spoken up on this before. (I particularly would like to hear from some elders. I’d also like to hear from some younger people, but our presbytery is pretty typical in that we just don’t have younger people who are commissioners to presbytery.)
How would you respond to those that say that if we pass 10-A individuals and congregations will leave the PC(USA)? Individuals and congregations have already been leaving the denomination. Some of these are the conservatives, of course, because there has been a lot of their self-generated publicity about this. I am quite sure that there is also a large number of progressives who have left more quietly, unable to abide what they consider to be the unhealthy, hypocritical state of the denomination. Honestly, I believe that holding the church together is not necessarily what we are called to do when the cost is the church causing so much pain to LGBT people and their family members and friend — and others who are of various “outsider” status.
What should the Presbyterian Church focus on after Amendment 10-A passes? Loving God, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God.
How does your understanding of Scripture frame your position on 10-A? To make this quick, I have to state this more as a negative. I believe that the current form of the Book of Order’s G-6.0106b are very unscriptural. The exclusive imposition of sexual orientation as THE standard for ordination is absurd, given that Jesus said nothing about same-sex relationships or orientation. Joyful submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life is both far more biblical and far more reformed — and far healthier for both individuals and the church.
Feel free to contact me for more detail, or to engage in conversation.