As the Presbytery of Boise prepares to meet on May 14 for a special meeting to consider the proposed Amendments to the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church, we will be among the 173 presbyteries to consider Amendment 10A. To help with interpretation of this amendment, I will share some of the questions that are being circulated throughout the church.
The questions and answers I will share will not address the theological arguments related to this amendment. Instead they will focus on the governance issues presented in this amendment.
Today I share with you three questions about this amendment.
What does the proposed change say?
Amendment 10A is about officers – deacons, elders, and ministers of Word and Sacrament – specifically about who can be ordained and/or installed to office. The language of the amendment reads as follows:
Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life. The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation 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 installation. Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.
What does our current Form of Government say?
Current language in the Book of Order is found in the Form of Government (G6.0106b) which reads:
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, or 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.
What does the proposed language mean?
- A person in a same gender relationship can be considered for ordination as deacon, elder or minister of the Word and Sacrament;
- Ordaining bodies (the Session and/or the presbytery) retains the right and responsibility to determine leaders. In the case of a congregation, its deacons and elders. In the case of a presbytery, its minister members.
- All other church wide standards remain in place. These standards are expressed in the constitutional questions that each candidate must affirmatively answer.
In the coming days I will share additional questions and answers to help understand what this amendment says and means for the Presbyterian Church.
While denominational leaders are predicting an outcome in mid-May, that news should not deter us from discussing, debating and voting on this issue. It is important that we share what we believe the Holy Spirit is saying to us and to the Church. We believe that happens by the worship and work that takes place in our presbytery meetings. As we approach that time, please be in prayer with and for the commissioners to that meeting (elders and ministers).