From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Coalition, Covenant Network Leaders Call for "Sabbatical"
08 Jun 1998 22:43:39
Coalition, Covenant Network Leaders Call for
"Sabbatical" on Ordination Standards
Editor's note: The following statement was issued May 19 by leaders of the
Presbyterian Coalition and the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, who were
invited by General Assembly stated clerk the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick to
find a word to speak to the denomination on the issue of sexuality and
ordination. The next issue of "NEWS BRIEFS" will report on reactions to
the statement. - Jerry L. Van Marter
A Call to Sabbatical in The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is at a crossroads. We have spent the
last 20 years in debate, taking actions in the General Assembly, voting on
constitutional amendments, and engaging in judicial process related to
concerns over human sexuality and ordination. We believe that continued
reliance on overtures, amendments, and judicial process will not lead us to
a new vision or to the restoration of Christian community but may well lead
us to division and schism.
We believe the time has come for our church to enter into a sabbatical
season on these issues.
A sabbatical is not meant to be an end to discussion and learning. It is
meant to be a season of peace and rest from the confrontations of recent
years. A sabbatical would be a time to refrain from seeking legislative
and judicial solutions to our conflicts so that they may be dealt with in
our congregations and presbyteries primarily in a personal and pastoral
manner. A sabbatical would be a time to engage in reflection and
repentance, a time to listen to God together, and a time to reaffirm and to
celebrate our life and mission together as God's people.
A sabbatical would not change the policy of the church, as amended in the
"Book of Order" G-6.0106b. It also would not remove the deep sense of
alienation which many Presbyterians feel over the provision. It would
allow us to engage this and other crucial concerns such as Christology, the
authority and interpretation of Scripture, and the mission of the church in
a changing culture and world in an environment that is not overshadowed by
pending legislation or threatened judicial actions.
Our Appeal to the Church
We realize that there is no way to require such a sabbatical in the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and we do not propose any specific General
Assembly action to achieve it. However, we do appeal to you, our sisters
and brothers in Christ, to re-direct our energies for the next number of
During such a sabbatical we appeal to all Presbyterians to:
* Honor and respect our Constitution (both the "Book of Order" and
"The Book of Confessions").
* Resist the inclination to develop further overtures to amend the
constitution with regard to ordination and human sexuality.
* Resist the inclination to provoke or initiate judicial
* Make a fresh commitment to treat those with whom we disagree on
these matters with respect, refraining from personal attacks,
accusations, defamation of character or intrusive exposure of sexual
We believe that God is calling the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to a better
way of living together as the body of Christ, and we invite you to join us
in this endeavor.
Our hope is that we will honor our ordination vows by working diligently
and praying earnestly for the peace, unity and purity of the Church. We
are looking to God to redeem us from our present tensions and fears and to
guide us into a season of restored respect, greater wisdom, and a more
effective witness for our Lord.
Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
John Buchanan, Co-moderator, Covenant Network of Presbyterians
John Galloway, Pastor, Wayne Presbyterian Church, Wayne, PA
Jack Haberer, Moderator, Presbyterian Coalition
Roberta Hestenes, Moderator, Human Sexuality Committee 208th General
Laird Stuart, Moderator, "Book of Order" Committee, 209th General Assembly
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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