COVENANT OF DISSENT

dissent (di.sent'), n. refusal to conform to the rules and beliefs of an established church


 

The close vote among the presbyteries on Amendment B shows serious and genuine disagreement within the church. We find ourselves in deep pain over the passage of this amendment, and in good conscience, cannot support it. We love the church and respect its constitution too much to be silent in the face of what we perceive as being inconsistent with Reformed faith and polity.

 

The amendment says: 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.

We respond: We cannot be party to a theology which would assert a hierarchy of authority for our lives that does not begin and end with Jesus Christ. Our obedience is to him -- and to him alone -- as attested to in Scripture. All other standards, including the confessions, are subordinate.

The amendment says: Among those standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage of a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.

We respond: We cannot be party to a standard for sexual behavior which precludes the possibility of responsible sexuality within loving, same-gender relationships, or which focuses solely on fidelity and chastity. The primary standard for all human relationships -- sexual and otherwise -- is the love of Christ.

The amendment says: Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elder or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.

 

We respond: We cannot be party to an understanding of sin which narrows the scope of human sinfulness to behaviors proscribed in the historic confessions. Sin, as understood in Scripture, is much more radical than that; our need to repent is much more profound; our reliance upon the grace of God much more complete.

 

Therefore, with reluctance and with humility, and before God and before our sisters and brothers in the church, we raise our voices in dissent, and covenant together with other Presbyterians, by the grace of God, to:

 

uphold the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in all its provisions, except G-6.106b (Amendment B);

remain in the Presbyterian Church (USA), working to change its constitution to reaffirm the historic responsibility of sessions and presbyteries to interpret scripture and the confessions as they examine, ordain, and install officers;

continue support of the mission of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and its per capita apportionment;

participate responsibly in whatever disciplinary measures may be brought against us for this action;

pray for the reconciling spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ to transform the entire church;

continue to practice full hospitality for all God's children in our life and work as a community of Christ's disciples.

 

Signed:

 

Session of:________________________________Date________


This Covenant of Dissent is one model for response to Amendment B. There are others circulating. Please contact the Rev. Timothy Hart-Andersen at Old First Presbyterian Church, San Francisco, 415/776-5552, to help advance this Covenanters' strategy. Let us know if you adopt this or another statement in opposition to Amendment B. Thank you.


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