PresbyMEME: Why I am voting yes on Amendment 10a
Bruce Reyes-Chow, pastor of the Mission Bay Community Church in San Francisco and Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from 2008 to 2010, has started a new project on his blog he calls “PresbyMEME: Why I am voting yes on Amendment 10a.”
In his blog post describing the project he writes:
“. . . taken with an understanding that the Spirit moves in many ways, it is my hope that these responses will help in the greater discernment of the mind of Christ and the will of God in the Presbyterian Church (USA).”
I thought this was a wonderful idea and wanted to contribute my voice to the conversation. Below are my responses to Bruce’s questions. If you favor Amendment 10-A, then add your thoughts, as well.
Also, if you’d like to read more on Bruce, you can read the recent conversation we had on my blog.
1. Name, City, State
Rev. Janet Edwards, Pittsburgh, PA
2. Twitter and Facebook profiles
3. Presbytery and 10-A voting date
Pittsburgh Presbytery, November 18, 2010
4. Reason ONE that you are voting “yes” on 10-A is…
In John 12:32 Jesus says, “When I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself,” and all means all. Paul speaks in Ephesians 4:5 of “one baptism.” Since 1997, G-6.0106b has put in place second class-membership for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members of the PCUSA, putting a “but” into Jesus’ “all.” Amendment 10-A will return our church to the Gospel embrace of all who declare their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord as full members of the faith community, eligible for all offices in the church.
5. Reason TWO that you are voting “yes” on 10-A is…
When G-6.0106b was placed in the Book of Order in 1997, one of the reasons given for it was that it would bring peace to the church. Thirteen years later there is no peace. Amendment 10-A draws on the faithful wisdom of our ancestors in the Adopting Act of 1729, as they sought peace in their time, to allow the majorities in presbyteries (hence our name Presbyterian Church) to determine the call, gifts, preparation and suitability of candidates for ministry. It is time for us to draw upon this wisdom of our polity.
6. Reason THREE that you are voting “yes” on 10-A is…
It is time for us to accept the wisdom of Gamaliel in Acts 5:39, “If it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.” Our LGBT children will keep knocking at the door of the church to insist that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) embrace what we know with every fiber of our being: God made us, Christ loves us, the Holy Spirit fills us. Amendment 10-A will finally leave LGBT Presbyterians alone, as Gamaliel advises, to engage in the fullness of ministry. And the church will see and be blest by the fruit of this labor.
7, What are your greatest hopes for the 10-A debate that will take place on the floor of your Presbytery?
My greatest hope is that the commissioners will set aside our preconceptions and truly listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking through those who share from their hearts before the vote. I hesitate to call it a debate because I want this to be a Pentecost moment where the Holy Spirit helps us all, in our own way of careful listening, see the Grace Christ yearns for us to embrace.
8. How would you respond to those that say that if we pass 10-A individuals and congregations will leave the PC(USA)?
I would respond to them with this: “It grieves my heart that you choose to hold one interpretation of Scripture more dear than finding our way to live together in the part of Christ’s body where God has placed us called the PC(USA). I acknowledge that my reading of Scripture, inspiring me to embrace LGBT people, is my faithful interpretation. I answer to God for it, knowing that it may not be God’s complete will and Word. I treasure as precious God’s word to you. I test my conclusions by what you say. I want you to stay with me and do the same.”
9. What should the Presbyterian Church focus on after Amendment 10-A passes?
The PC(USA) should focus on exactly what 10-A lifts up as central: “to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life.” As each believer is freed to do that we will discover the infinite variety of ways in God’s world to submit to Christ joyfully, depending on the talents God has given to each of us. We will be freed from the shackles of our strife and be able to focus on doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8). What a joy it will be to focus together on that!
10. How does your understanding of Scripture frame your position on 10-A?
I see the centrality of Jesus and His teaching that loving God and neighbor are the great commandments. Loving God leads me humbly to judge LGBT people by the criteria Jesus commends to us, “You shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16) All other judgment belongs to God alone. And loving my neighbor means that I stand with LGBT people who have been deeply hurt and whose lives have been blighted by words and actions of the church. This prayerful understanding of Scripture leads me to support Amendment 10-A.