Leading up to and during the 222nd General Assembly, there has been much talk about Overture 11-05, or the “Apology Overture.” In our original statement about the overture, More Light Presbyterians (MLP) recognized that at its heart, this overture asks the denomination to acknowledge and make amends for the harm that has been done to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and 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. MLP believes that this overture offered an important opportunity for truth-telling, conversation, and reconciliation.
Alex McNeill, MLP Executive Director, responded to the outcome of the plenary’s work,
“The language the GA plenary adopted answering overture 11-05 should be seen as the beginning of a process for acknowledging and repenting for the harms done to LGBTQ people. One statement of wrong-doing is not enough to fully express, or make amends for the hurt LGBTQ people have experienced at the hands of the church. My hope is that this statement starts a longer conversation where we take stock of the hurts and hopes for LGBTQ inclusion and full participation in the church.”
Moving forward, MLP hopes for continued reconciliation and truth telling that encompasses the wrongs of the church toward marginalized communities including the intersections of layered marginalized identities. An apology, without deep commitment to truth telling and reconciliation will not restore justice and move the church forward into abundance. We commit to bringing this vision forward in the months and years to come.
As the work of the General Assembly comes to a close, we celebrate the passage of three overtures that further affirm the lives and dignity of LGBTQ people. MLP will continue to equip congregations to respond to the needs of LGBTQ people in their communities, so that together we can continue to build a church that reflects God’s heart. These overtures strengthen the ability of agencies of the church and local congregations to advocate for, and minister with LGBTQ people.
Overture 11-16, which seeks to equip congregations to better serve those living with HIV/AIDS.
Overture 11-23, which will help the PC(USA) take a stronger stance against so called “conversion therapy” and directs the agencies of the church to work for the ban of these practices. The Presbyterian Church now joins a groundswell of organizations, the US Surgeon General, and the Obama administration in calling for an end to this dehumanizing practice.
Overture 12-09, which commits the PC(USA) to support the goals of the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding protecting individuals from violence and discrimination. Among the recommendations of the report, the PC(USA) is to commit to working to “decriminalize homosexuality and to repeal other laws used to punish individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.” It further directs the Presbyterian Mission Agency , through the Office of Public Witness, and the Office of the General Assembly to identify and encourage legislation to accomplish the goals within the United States. This is a significant milestone and we believe it will empower the OPW to take a stronger stance on legislation impacting LGBTQ individuals. In a time when such legislation is increasingly common, the PCUSA has an opportunity to ensure LGBTQ people can live free from discrimination. More Light has worked tirelessly in the past few months against North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which among other things prohibits transgender people from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity. This overture invites the Office of Public witness to join More Light as we call Presbyterian leaders to stand with LGBTQ people against this overt discrimination.