As we move toward the 222nd General Assembly, a number of presbyteries are sending Overture 050 to the General Assembly. At its heart, Overture 050 asks the denomination to acknowledge the harm that has been done to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) people, and our families, and the church, by the denomination’s historic exclusion of LGBTQ people from the full life of the church. More Light Presbyterians (MLP) believes that this overture offers an important opportunity for truth-telling, conversation, and reconciliation, and we respond to the overture, as follows:
- MLP supports asking the PCUSA to acknowledge and name the harm that has been done to LGBTQ people and our families. The first section of Overture 050 simply asks the church to name things that are true:
- The policies of the church have excluded LGBTQ people from ordained service in the church;
- The policies of the church have failed to recognize the full dignity of the marriages of LGBTQ people and the full humanity of our families; and
- The policies of the church have been used to prosecute faithful servants of the church seeking to minister to all God’s children in the name of Jesus Christ.
- Naming those harms is a needed act of truth-telling and reconciliation, consistent with the truth-telling mandates of Scripture, as found throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament.Overture 050 also asks the denomination as a whole to apologize for these wrongs. This part of the Overture has generated significant conversation and disagreement. MLP is supportive of the need for apology. At the same time, MLP believes that consideration of this overture could also open up the opportunity for a meaningful and broader process of truth and reconciliation.
- Accordingly, as an alternative, MLP proposes that the General Assembly, its committees, and its commissioners consider amending Overture 050 to initiate a truth and reconciliation process that could lead us to an even deeper experience of relationship and reconciliation. At a minimum, that process would include convening a task force or commission
- To open up space for the church to hear the stories of those who have been harmed by the policies of the church that have excluded LGBTQ people and our families; and
- To lead the church in reconciliation conversations and actions, which could include acts of confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
- Faithfully and lovingly done, a meaningful process of truth and reconciliation could open up the possibility for even deeper healing, for those harmed by the church and for the church itself.
- Additionally, MLP recognizes that the church’s harm to the LGBTQ
community is by no means the only way that the church has participated and been complicit in systems of exclusion, injustice, and power-over. As the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) takes the last step at this General Assembly to add the Confession of Belhar to our Book of Confessions, MLP also urges the church to take seriously truth-telling and reconciliation with regard to the church’s participation in racism, sexism, the oppression of indigenous peoples, and all the ways that the church has participated in the exclusion and unjust treatment of God’s children. Faithfully moving into a season of truth-telling and reconciliation can only lead to a deeper experience of healing and God’s abundant grace.
In the weeks leading up to General Assembly More Light will release additional perspectives from our board and staff in order to further the important conversation about Overture 050 and to assist the Social Justice Issues Committee in their discernment.