Thursday, September 6, 2007

Overture for the Removal of G-6.0106b

Link to the Overture from Palisades Presbyterian Church NY

On Monday, September 10, 2007, the Faith & Orders Committee of the Presbytery of Hudson River, New York will consider an Overture from the Palisades Presbyterian Church, New York for the deletion of G-6.0106b and a New Authoritative Interpretation, which would remove the amendment and language from the Book of Order that is most frequently used to prevent sisters and brothers who are Lesbian, Gay. Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) from serving as leaders in the PC(USA).

The committee will consider the options available, which include sending the overture to the September 18th meeting of the Presbytery at the Presbyterian Center at Holmes, Holmes, NY. If approved, it would then be sent to the Office of the General Assembly as an overture to the 218th General Assembly to be held in San Jose, California, June 21 - 28, 2008.

The Presbytery of Hudson River is in a unique position to lead in moving the overture, which is virtually the same as the Heartland Overture with which it concurred prior to the 217th General Assembly. The presbytery has long been a supporter of amendments for the deletion of G-6.0106b, as well as calling openly LGBT individuals to serve in positions of leadership. If the overture is sent to the September meeting of the Presbytery and approved, it would provide other presbyteries across the country with an opportunity to concur, and ample time to meet the 120 day deadline prior to the General Assembly, the cut-off for overtures and concurrences.

In presenting the Palisades, NY Overture, which could become the Hudson River Overture, it is hoped that a clear and focused debate will take place on G-6.0106b and the Authoritative Interpretation, a conversation which has been somewhat obscured by other legislation over the last several years. It is believed that even those who might oppose the deletion of G-6.0106b, while voting against the overture - will find some measure of willingness to move forward since such proposed legislation would refocus the conversation on the amendments of Constitution, rather than interpretation of the Book of Order using such methods as "scrupling," based on the 1724 Adoption Act. While these methods and others recommended by such reports as the Theological Task Force of Peace Unity and Purity are important considerations, the continued presence of G-6.0106b and the Authoritative Interpretation are deep wounds to the church that cannot begin to truly heal until they are removed.

The overture is a prayer, in itself, for healing and fnding ways to move ahead with our differences, rather than drawing lines to separate us.

We ask for your prayers as we move forward over the next several days. We welcome your comments, which will be passed along to the committee, and we thank you for entering into this sacred place into which the Spirit has led us.

In hope, prayer, and peace,
Ray Bagnuolo, Openly Gay Minister of the Word and SacramentPalisades Presbyterian Church, Interim Minister