From the Pastor’s Desk: September 27, 2015

Dear Grace Community,

Please be at Grace on Tuesday night for the same-sex marriage program. Dinner begins at 5:45 pm ($7 for adults, $3 for children, family cap of $17), and the program is at 6:30 pm. Childcare is available.

Same-sex marriage is now allowed but not required in the Presbyterian Church USA. This means that each congregation may decide whether or not same-sex weddings are permitted on church grounds. In March, the Grace Session began to address the question about what we would do as a congregation. The Session sets all wedding policies for the church.

In April, the Session held three listening sessions for the church community. The purpose of these gatherings was to share thoughts and questions about same-sex marriage. The Session reflected on these groups and discussed how to move forward in this conversation.

In August, we established a study group to read and discuss two books, Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill and The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage by Mark Achtemeier. The entire congregation was invited to participate in this five week series. Approximately twenty people attended one or more study groups. The two books represent different viewpoints on same-sex marriage and were recommended to us by men who represent organizations with the PCUSA.

These two men are here on Tuesday night to speak and to answer questions. They are Paul Detterman and Brian Ellison. Paul represents the Fellowship of Presbyterians, an organization opposed to same-sex marriage. Brian represents the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, an organization in favor of same-sex marriage. They very much disagree with each other on this issue and yet agree about the value of being in PCUSA together. Their willingness to dialogue and stay in relationship is a powerful witness to church unity.

Our congregation will not be of one mind on this issue, but my hope is that we can learn from these men both about their perspectives and about their commitment to being in a Christian community with people they disagree with.

The gathering on Tuesday is the final step in our Session’s process before voting on a same-sex marriage policy for Grace. The plan is for the Session to make this decision at the stated meeting on November 23. (This is one week later than originally scheduled.) You are strongly encouraged to reach out to any or all of the Session members to talk with them about this issue before the October 19 Session meeting. Session members are listed at the bottom of this letter. Call, email, or write them. Any unsigned correspondence will be disregarded.

As the Session prayerfully considers this decision I ask that you do the same and that you pray for them. See you Tuesday.

In Christ, Catherine

Session Members:

Ron Brown

Cindy Dethloff

Fred Heismeyer

Jerry Juhnke

Maggie McIntire

Don Murphy

Charlene Randle

Sandy Remsberg

Janet Rhoads

Betsy Ross

Sue Steele

Bill Vavra

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