Dear GPC Community,
The Presbyterian Church USA made the news this week regarding same-sex marriages. I put together some Questions and Answers to help us think through what happened.
Q. Was there some kind of big vote on Tuesday?
A. Yes and No. Last summer the General Assembly of the PCUSA (national gathering of elected ministers and elders from each presbytery) voted to change our constitution to allow for same sex marriages. In order for the constitution to change, a majority of the 171 presbyteries have to approve the changes. On Tuesday, two presbyteries approved the changes creating a majority. The changes go into effect in June 2015.
Q. Will PCUSA ministers be required to perform same-sex weddings, and will churches be required to hold them?
A. No. Ministers will not be required to perform same-sex weddings but may choose to. In the same way, churches will not be required to allow same-sex weddings but may choose to.
Q. What will we do at Grace?
A. I’m not sure. I am aware that we have people in our congregation who are in favor of this change and people who are opposed to it. We also have people who are unsure about all of this. We will not do anything hastily. Last fall our Session began to have conversation about same-sex marriage. We had honest conversation and listened to one another. We are not of one mind, and we will continue to talk and listen.
Q. Who can I talk to about this?
A. Please talk with me about this, and please talk with your Session members.
Earlier this week I attended a wonderful conference. At the final worship service, Tom Are, pastor at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, KS, preached on John 13:31-35. He lifted up verses 34-35 which say, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
In his sermon, he talked about the idea that we are bound together, not always with people we like or would choose, and yet we are called to live our Christian lives together. You may believe differently about the issue of same-sex marriage than your sister or brother at Grace, but instead of choosing to avoid that person, I encourage you to think of those you disagree with as fellow disciples to love. We are bound and united by our common love for Jesus. I hope that in spite of our differences we can focus on the one who unites us.