In the midst of this Lenten season, our hearts are heavy for our beloved
church. Last year's General Assembly offered Amendment A to the church in
a spirit of unity and compromise. The resultant debate and vote have demonstrated
again our deep differences. We now find ourselves in a desert of anxiety
over how to live together as one church.
Many, we know, wish this debate had never been engaged. It may be that
the arena in which the church chose to continue the discussion of ordination
standards - the constitutional amendment process - was not the best venue.
Clearly, however, the conversation must continue. Amendment A has been defeated;
but questions of the meaning of discipleship and ordination, the role and
use of Scripture and the confessions in our lives, and the face our church
presents to a broken world are subjects with which our church is not yet
Acknowledging that a substantial majority of presbyteries voted against
the Amendment, we nonetheless point out that almost half -46% as we write
- of all the minister and elder commissioners in presbytery meetings voted
for Amendment A.
While we are grateful for the civility and respect shown in many presbyteries
in the debate on Amendment A, we fear for the unity of the church when we
hear threats of enforcement, or invitations simply to leave the church we
love and have served faithfully.
As pastors, we recognize the tremendous challenges these issues present
to our congregations and officers. The impact of G-6.0106b will be felt
most strongly at the local level. We hear from all across the country deep
pastoral concern about trying to live with a constitutional provision that
would exclude so many longtime leaders from service in the church if rigidly
applied and enforced.
The Executive and National Committees of the Covenant Network have met
to discuss the meaning of the vote's outcome, and to form a response to
suggest to the many Presbyterians who supported Amendment A. The result
of our prayerful consideration is the Call to Covenant
This Call to Covenant Community expresses
a vision of a church that hopes to be, as our Book of Order says, "the
provisional demonstration of what God intends for all of humanity"
(G-3.0200). We believe God intends the church to be inclusive, to take the
Gospel of Jesus Christ seriously, and to follow where the Holy Spirit leads.
We are confident that in time God's church will come to reflect God's
Like all of you, as faithful Presbyterians we rejoice in our church's
historic mission and witness. The Covenant Community we envision arises
from the heart of that tradition, and is offered in that spirit.
Please consider joining us in this effort to help our church move together
into the future God holds for us, by signing the Call
to Covenant Community as an individual or as a governing body of the
And as we all proceed together on our journey, let us all pray for the
healing of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
In Christ's service,
Robert W. Bohl
Pastor, Village Presbyterian Church
Prairie Village, KS
Moderator, 206th General Assembly
John M. Buchanan
Pastor, Fourth Presbyterian Church
Moderator, 208th General Assembly