March 20, 2015 Erin Counihan

Change in Marriage Language in the PCUSA

A letter from our pastor to the congregation:

Dear Oak Hill,
This week the Presbyterian Church (USA) took the historic step of changing our church constitution’s language on marriage. The General Assembly of the PCUSA last summer voted to define marriage as :
“a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives.”

The new language was then sent to each Presbytery to vote to ratify or not. On Tuesday night the mathematical majority of 86 presbyteries voting in favor was reached and the new language will be added to our constitution.

While I personally rejoice in this historic moment of the church finally recognizing the relationships of all beloved, committed couples, and offer thanks to the many individuals and groups that worked hard for years and years to see this day come, I recognize that not all Presbyterians are rejoicing this week. I offer thanks that God gives us the Word and the ability to interpret that good word. I offer thanks that God gives us community to discuss and explore and yes, even debate the Word. And I pray that we may continue to be a community, to be the one body of Christ, to remain in conversation and in fellowship, even as some individuals lament while others rejoice. This is my prayer.

Please read the information below from our Presbytery Stated Clerk for more information. (Also, I am not sure why Terry says below Missouri does not allow same gender marriage, because currently, under US District Court ruling, many jurisdictions, including the City of STL, are issuing marriage licenses to couples of all genders.)

I am available if anyone would like to discuss this vote or this issue. Please let me know and I would be glad to set up a time to grab a Bible and some coffee and chat.

Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Erin

*A MESSAGE FROM THE STATED CLERK*

Dear Friends,

The media is widely reporting that Amendment 14-F of the Directory for Worship in the Book of Order has been approved by a majority of the presbyteries. The amendment allows Teaching Elders wider discretion in whose weddings they can conduct and gives Sessions wider discretion in whose weddings it may host. That discretion could include same gender marriages in states where that is permitted. As you know, Illinois allows same gender marriage and Missouri does not.

You are no doubt thinking about how to interpret this to your congregation and community. For some this news is a reason for joy, others will find it troubling. In either case, it will be important for you to know and be able to share accurate information. Here are some resources I hope will assist you.

This is a link to the PC(USA)’s public announcement that 14-F has been approved:
http://www.pcusa.org/news/2015/3/17/amendment-14-f-approved/

This is a video announcement from Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons:
https://vimeo.com/122339350

The Moderator and Vice-Moderator of the General Assembly wrote this pastoral letter to the whole church:
http://www.pcusa.org/site_media/media/uploads/oga/pdf/mod-vice-mod-marriage-passage.pdf

The Office of the General Assembly provided this Advisory Opinion:
http://www.pcusa.org/site_media/media/uploads/oga/pdf/advisory_opinion_marriage_passage.pdf

As always, you are in my prayers as you minister to God’s people here. If I can be of assistance to you please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Faithfully,
Terry Epling,
Stated Clerk

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