Saturday, November 13, 2010

Amendment 10-A Fails in New Covenant

(PresbyGeek Alert! This post is about PresbyPolity in action.)

Presbytery of New Covenant voted on Amendments 10-A through O to the Constitution of the PCUSA at its meeting this morning. Amendment 10-A (to change the language of section 6.0106b relating to standards for ordination) was defeated by a vote of 156 to 144 with 4 abstentions.

There was a large turnout and the debate was respectful, "decent and in order", and pretty much covered every pro and con argument I have ever heard.

We did hear from a corresponding member from East Africa who spoke against the amendment saying that if it passed it would negatively affect relationships with Presbyterians in other parts of the world. This concern was echoed by several other African and Asian speakers.

For the record, I voted with the majority because I believe we are to be obedient to scripture, not merely guided by it.  That will come to no surprise to my faithful readers who followed the Sola Scriptura discussions with our vice moderator, Landon Whitsitt. I know if this amendment isn't approved by a majority of the presbyteries we will be doing this all over again in 2012. And if it is adopted, there will be other serious ramifications. But I also have faith that God has a plan for His church that neither side of this debate can see now.

~Aside: After all the years this issue has been argued, I can't imagine anyone abstaining. But they did.~

The only other amendment that drew debate and required a counted vote was 10-C which requires all governing bodies to adopt and implement a sexual misconduct policy. It was approved by 195 to 99. Those voting against it were concerned that there was no definition of sexual misconduct and that putting this requirement in the Constitution could expose churches that fail to follow it to litigation.

The other amendments, 10-B and D through O passed by voice votes.

New Covenant will vote on the proposed New Form of Government at its January meeting and the addition of the Belhar Confession at its June meeting. I'm glad these issues are being addressed separately because 10 A-O was quite enough polity for one day.

(End of PresbyPolity Geek Report. As you were!)

13 comments:

Teri said...

our Presbytery is also splitting this into two meetings, and having small groups study the various things and report on them with hour-long learning opportunities for the group of amendments, the nFog, and Belhar. It sounds like we're not the only ones going all out and taking the voting much more seriously than usual this year. I'm glad!!

Quotidian Grace said...

Yes, these are complex issues. Particularly the nFog which will be voted up or down. It's good that presbyteries are providing study opportunities and not trying to bundle all these issues into one meeting.

Nik said...

Hey QG - so, for this Scottish Presby, wot's the debate?

Quotidian Grace said...

Nik--
How nice to have a question from the Mother Ship!
The debate is about permitting the ordination of non celibate homosexual persons to office as deacon, elder or minister of word and sacrament.
The current language of our book of order does not allow it, but the proposed amendment would permit presbyteries to make that decision on a "local option" basis.

Nik said...

Ahhhh, yes, we have that little lot to look forward to in May at General Assembly. The Special Commission set up for this comes back with their report...
Just hoping it's not all too toxic.

Anonymous said...

Actually the current language of our current Book of Order does not allow a lot of things when it comes to determining if someone is eligible for ordination (being divorced and remarried folks, being female, earning interest, and living with your significant other prior to marriage) because it says that, when it comes to determining if someone is eligible for ordination, what the confessions say about sinful behavior has the same weight as scripture (so much for sola scriptura). It's just that we only enforce the prohibition on the ordination of homosexuals who are not celibate.

Lynn said...

I wonder why no one mentioned the leader who commits adultery which is prohibited according to G-6.0106b. Although I don't know of anyone who was "defrocked" because of adultery, but maybe they should be!

Quotidian Grace said...

Lynn, I have served on our presbytery's permanent judicial commission and I know of several cases where charges were brought against a pastor for adultery, resulting in the pastor being "defrocked" or resigning his ordination. It does happen--all too often.

Clay Allard said...

Grace Presbytery is splitting the votes, too-- but we dealt with NFoG first. It passed by a little less than 200 to a little more than 50.

Anonymous said...

actually 6B prohihibts the ordination of any single non celibate person.

Christine said...

Thanks for your even-handed report, QG. The vote seems surprisingly close.

hslye said...

Anonymous is correct in saying "our current language in our current Book of Order does not allow a lot of things when it comes to determining if someone is eligible for ordination..." but the first three cited are not among them. The fourth one cited is clarified by anon's second comment(a single person who is non celibate). And that one is correct. Divorce and remarriage are permitted, Confessions 6.137-138 and women are eligible, Conf. 10.4 line 64 and lawful interest is not usury, Conf. 7.252. Unless I am missing other references, I do not think we violate our Book of Order nor the Confessions on these matters.

Anonymous said...

I'm slowly dropping out of my PCUSA congregation over all this. I just can't muster the interest. They've asked me to be on the session because everyone else in our small and shrinking church has been on it so far but me -- no thanks. I'd stop going altogether if it weren't for my kids whom I want to bring up in church and I'm not quite ready to go SBC or PCA, the other options in my small town. (Going to the UMC is trading the fire for the frying pan.)

What a mess. Once the liberals win they'll turn on people like me. What's the point of trying?

Sorry to provide the counsels of despair but everyone deserves the right to counsel.