Dear Congregational of Central
I preached a sermon on 22 September, that led to a lot of conversations about gender and sexuality. As your pastor, I wanted to provide you a summary of where the Presbyterian Church in Canada is on some aspects this broad and important area of Scriptural interpretation.
- SUMMARY: A direct summary of all General Assembly discernment on gender and sexuality can be found in The Social Action Handbook 2019. BOOK 2 is entitled Relationships; and speaks directly on marriage, beginning of life, end of life, gender identity, and more. (It is 400 pages so be careful about printing it.)
- REPENTANCE: In 2018, at the direction of the General Assembly, its Moderator issued a letter repenting for homophobia in the PCC, and I urge you to read it. It is a true letter and applies to all of us in the church, as members of it together, even if we can never recall a personal event for which we need to repent. Part of this process has been the creation of the Listening Committee, who will give a final report in June 2020.
- PROPOSED CHANGES: The 2019 General Assembly in June passed two motions related to gender, sexuality and marriage. They are:
- A – That: The Presbyterian Church in Canada holds two parallel definitions of marriage and recognizes that faithful, Holy Spirit filled, Christ centred, God honouring people can understand marriage as a covenant relationship between a man and a woman or as a covenant relationship between two adult persons.
That congregations, sessions, ruling and teaching elders be granted liberty of conscience and action on marriage.
- B – That: congregations and presbyteries may call and ordain as ministers and elect and ordain as ruling elders LGBTQI persons (married or single) with the provision that liberty of conscience and action regarding participation in ordinations, inductions and installations be granted to ministers and ruling elders.
4. PROCESS FOR PROPOSED CHANGES: The process for the proposed changes is that before June 2020, the next General Assembly, every Presbytery across Canada will vote YES or NO to these proposed changes (there are approximately 26 of which Hamilton is one). IF a majority of Presbyteries vote in the affirmative, then these changes go to General Assembly 2020 for a vote. IF at General Assembly a majority votes in the affirmative, the doctrine of the church is officially changed; if at either stage, Presbytery throughout the year or General Assembly in June, the majority vote is in the negative, then proposed changes are not made. The Presbytery of Hamilton has invited anyone who wishes, to come to an open meeting on Tuesday, November 12th, 2019, where the remits will be discussed.
5. OPPORTUNITY FOR INVOLVEMENT: As of last night, the Presbytery of Hamilton invites any members of its congregations to an open meeting on November 12 at 7 p.m., where the proposed changes will be discussed. Voting will be in February 2020. Please stay tuned also about opportunities provided by Session in this year ahead. Feel free to be in contact – firstname.lastname@example.org – if you would like to talk further, or speak with your elder. Please keep this year in your fervent prayers.