Standing for Love in the PCUSA

More Light Presbyterians Commits to Passing an Amendment and Authoritative Interpretation at General Assembly.

At the MLP National Conference in Tucson, AZ, September 27-29, 2013, More Light Presbyterians (MLP) gathered for joyful worship, welcoming community and energizing workshops. We look forward to 221st General Assembly (2014) hopeful that the church will affirm for all persons, the freedom to marry.

To that end, the Boards of More Light Presbyterians and Covenant Network are committed to work for the passage of BOTH an authoritative interpretation and a constitutional amendment, believing that both are absolutely essential. More Light Presbyterians will prioritize working for the amendment while The Covenant Network will focus on education and advocacy for the A.I. before the Assembly. Both groups are committed to work for these actions at the Assembly and beyond. Join us in building a church that reflects God’s heart.

Why do we need both an Authoritative Interpretation and a constitutional amendment?

The Authoritative Interpretation is essential to averting the current pastoral crisis in which teaching elders risk discipline for providing the pastoral ministry of officiating at same-sex weddings. An authoritative interpretation would emphasize that pastoral responsibility for discernment and discretion, which have always been part of determining who may be married, should extend to the marriage of same-sex couples, as well. No teaching elders or sessions would be required to perform or authorize same-sex weddings, but those who chose to do so would not be subject to discipline for doing so. An authoritative interpretation, approved by the General Assembly, would take effect immediately and provide immediate relief.

The Amendment would eliminate the language of “man and woman” and ground new language in our Reformed understanding. An amendment is essential because it is a long-term witness to the full validity of the commitment of same-sex couples and the assurance that marriages will continue to be recognized by the church. Language under consideration would replace the existing section on marriage with a new section consistent with the rest of the Book of Order and not limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. The amendment would require approval of the Assembly and a majority of presbyteries, which both MLP and Covenant Network would work for in 2014-15.

We’re excited that both MLP and Covenant Network will support both pieces of the two-pronged strategy, and we hope all will join in helping spread the message that BOTH parts are absolutely essential going forward.

Leading up to the General Assembly, the Covenant Network will prioritize educational and advocacy work for the Authoritative Interpretation (A.I.), while MLP will prioritize education and advocacy work for the amendment. At the GA, CovNet and MLP are committed to working for both elements and, if the amendment passes, beyond the Assembly.

If you are interested in sending an overture (or passing one of the required concurrences to an overture), please be in touch with Tricia Dykers Koenig (triciadk@covnetpres.org). Tricia is serving as the main contact, streamlining information in order to distribute the latest best thinking. Please feel free to get in touch with either More Light Presbyterians’ executive director, Alex McNeill (alex@mlp.org) or CovNet’s executive director, Brian Ellison (brian@covnetpres.org) if you want to talk further about how you can Stand for Love in 2014.