Tuesday, November 2, 2010

PresbyMEME: Why I am voting yes on Amendment 10a

Name, City, State: Devin Berry, Boston, MA

Twitter and Facebook profiles: Twitter- presbygeek (I live tweeted throughout our meeting. search #bostonpresbytery for that) facebook- devin.berry

Presbytery and 10a voting date: Presbytery of Boston, 11/1/10

Reason ONE that you are voting "yes" on 10a is... Because it makes sense

Reason TWO that you are voting "yes" on 10a is... Because tolerance is the future of the church

Reason THREE that you are voting "yes" on 10a is... because it isn't just about GLBTQ issues

What are your greatest hopes for the 10a debate that will take place on the floor of your Presbytery? The Boston Presbytery isn't known for having the most civil conversations on this topic. The first Presbytery meeting I ever attended was the questioning of Sara Herwig (http://media.gfem.org/node/10752) and I left that meeting in tears for Sara. My hope is that as we address this topic we can remember that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

How would you respond to those that say that if we pass 10a individuals and congregations will leave the PC(USA)? I believe that is individuals leave the church because 10a passes then perhaps we are better off...

What should the Presbyterian Church focus on after Amendment 10a passes? One issue at a time please?

How does your understanding of Scripture frame your position on 10a? 1 Corinthians 12:27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

I must admit that the true title of this blogpost should be Why I VOTED yes on Amendment 10a. The Presbytery of Boston voted last night, but seeing as I am slow to blog I was unable to post this prior to our vote. I apologize. Now, on to the real issue at hand:

Okay, so for my non-PCUSA followers and for my PCUSA followers that aren't addicted to the book of order and the happenings of the church, let me explain what is going on. The Presbyterian Church (USA) has The Book of Order (affectionately referred to as the BOO) which serves as the constitution of our church. The BOO has all of the "laws" of our church and essentially the way things are meant to be done. The BOO can be edited and amended, much in the same way that the Constitution of the United States of America. Every two years the General Assembly of the PCUSA meets and looks at the amendments that different Presbyteries have sent in. All of the Presbyteries in the country have to vote on the amendment and if it passes the BOO changes.

This year there were 15 amendments for the Presbyteries to vote on. Amendments 10A-10O. The hot ticket item, however, was (and is) Amendment 10A. Amendment 10A seeks to amend section G-6.0106b (I told you it is a lot like the US Constitution!) Right now that sections says "Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in Fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or in chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament."

Amendment 10A would instead say that "Standards for ordained service reflect the church's desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspect of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240;G-14.0450) shall examine each candidate's calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate's ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and instillation (W-4.4003). Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates."

There are a couple different perspectives that can be taken on this matter.
  1. As long as someone has a calling, as the gifts to serve, is suitable to serve and is prepared to serve, who are we to say they cannot because of who they love?
  2. When so many churches are lacking pastors, when so many of our congregations are yoked due to a lack of staffing, why are we turning capable potential pastors away?
  3. I know many GLBTQ candidates for ministry as well as elders who are more competent and better able to serve than many of those who identify themselves as straight. Let's get those who want to joyfully serve and have the abilities to do so installed!
  4. Cut this whole intolerance crap...it's getting old!
  5. It isn't just a GLBTQ issue. With the current wording, if you are heterosexual but not living within either in fidelity of marriage or in chastity in singleness you are unfit to serve in any office... so all of our elders and deacons who are living with a partner but not married to them, why are you serving the church? I actually knew an elder who upon reading this resigned from the session because by him living with his girlfriend he was going against the BOO.

I suppose these are the reasons why I voted for Amendment 10A. The Presbytery of Boston was amazingly civil in our discussions on the night of the vote (11/1/10). The Presbytery had 83 votes cast. 53 voted were in favor of passing Amendment 10A. 30 votes were against amendment 10A.

Presbytery of Boston, I am proud of you!

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