One of the challenges, I face in ministry, is the reality that while I am a conservative evangelical in my theology I serve in a denomination that is considered progressively liberal. Each year as the General Assembly business is completed I spend a reasonably significant amount of time pouring through the position papers and decisions that are made on my own behalf as well as that of my parishioners.
This year was no different. And this year, while many saw it as relatively calm, I was overwhelmed by the seemingly small but apparently purposeful change in some wording of the positions and decisions. One major one, for me personally, was the addition of the letters “I, A +” to the previously used GLBT references.
GLBTQ refers to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning people. This year’s General Assembly added “I, A +” to the acronym. Being a bit confused I have searched long and hard to find the significance of these additions. Everything I read has consistently held them out to stand for I – Intersex, A- Affirming, and + Other Gender Identities and Sexual Orientations – implying pedophilia, polygamy, polyandry, beastiality, object sexuality and every kind of sexual perversion…irrespective of what any particular individual may hold was intended.
The letters in question were appended to Item 10-03: A Resolution on Determining the Need for an [LGBTQIA+] Advocacy Committee—From the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns.
Approved: Financial Implications – Annual $11,060. Total – $22,120
ACWC recommends that a five-person task force be created to study whether a new advocacy committee on “gender and identity matters” should be formed. The recommendation also directs GANC to ensure that “diversity of sexual identity and gender identity” is considered in its nominating process.
The question arose whether or not GLBTAIA+ persons need a new advocacy committee and $22,120 will be spent to study whether or not the committee is necessary. My knee-jerk reaction is “Seriously? The entire G.A. has for year acted as an advocacy committee for gender and identity matters at EXTRAVANANT expense to the denomination. Even our nominating committees are now required to reflect this special interest group.
Following this, Item: 11-13 requested that we celebrate the expansive gifts of the gospel of Jesus Christ… and affirm the gifts of LGBTQIA+ people.
“l. Celebrating the expansive embrace of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the breadth of our mission to serve a world in need, the 223rd General Assembly (2018) affirms the gifts of LGBTQ[IA]+ people for ministry and celebrates their service in the church and in the world.”…
As a conservative evangelical I sincerely object to the General Assembly making such a proclamation (reflecting inasmuch as it does) on the denomination of which I am apart. I realize that we are not all in agreement on these issues, however, I will add that inasmuch as scripture clearly and unequivocally condemns such behavior (LGBT…) I feel I must publicly declare my opposition to such a position. I will be communicating with Presbytery on such matters.
So too, this year brought an interesting issue back to the table which was disapproved. Item: 06-01 raised the question of whether the Book of Order section of church property be changed to allow for churches in states with laws that require property ownership based on the names on the Title Deeds to own their property.
Shall G-4.0203 (Church Property Held in Trust) of the Form of Government be amended by adding text at the end of that section as follows: [Text to be added is shown as italic.]:
“All property held by or for a congregation, a presbytery, a synod, the General Assembly, or the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), whether legal title is lodged in a corporation, a trustee or trustees, or an unincorporated association, and whether the property is used in programs of a congregation or of a higher council or retained for the production of income, is held in trust nevertheless for the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); unless state law requires otherwise.”
This item was disapproved, clarifying yet again that the position of the General Assembly of the PC(USA) is that the presbytery owns all property irrespective of what State Law may infer to be true.
To be sure, there were some good things done at this year’s General Assembly but I feel is necessary to make my disapproval known to the Presbytery and that may activate a response from them.
The St. Andrews’ Session received a report this past week from one of our Presbytery Representatives to this year’s G.A. The answers, many felt were inadequate and so they will continue to gather the information they feel they need and attempt to get their questions answered (*BTW this column makes no claim to represent St. Andrews’ elder’s interests or opinions.)
I hope that the grace of God which extends to each of us as sinners, can be extended BY each of us as we discuss such matters. They ARE important to our evangel/witness.