Monday, February 23, 2009

08-B Votes This Week: Update

I was talking with a friend of mine today and he reminded of the disturbance that "voting" on church matters often creates. The ideas of winners and losers in a church seem to propel the church into more of a secularly quantified entity, rather than one that understands the needs of others and supports all on their paths to God.

Still, it is true that the only way to remove the damage done by voting in G-6.0106b is to vote it out or vote to amend it. At best, the decision has to first embrace the division voting creates, once more. It will all be worth it, when the time comes, if the long-term outcome is healing and a diversified unity that more readily reflects the body of Christ, in which we share.

The benefits of such a time for our church will outshine any of the shadows we currently might cast in this ongoing struggle of building a majority. The way leads us through these times, as it did Jesus through his:  through a time of pastoral presence, witness, and prayer for all -- modeled just the way we hope our church will one day day be.

As of this evening, Saturday, February 28th, there are 36 votes in favor and 56 votes opposed. 87 Votes are needed to ratify the amendment.

Recent Votes:

Cherokee: 24 Yes - 79 No
Hudson River: 94 Yes - 12 No - 1 Abstention
Milwaukee: 86 Yes - 24 No
Shenango: 4 Yes - 101 No

Missouri Union: 31 Yes - 48 No
Peace River: 63 Yes - 82 No

Indian Nations: 38 Yes - 43 No
South Alabama: 24 Yes - 33 no

Central Nebraska
New Harmony: 20 Yes - 99 No
North Puget Sound: 42 Yes - 69 No
Northeast Georgia: 49 Yes - 89 No
Tampa Bay: 71 Yes - 105 No

Please visit
Presbyweb for more detailed information.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

This is the time…

In the votes to date, fifteen presbyteries that voted “No” on the last attempt to delete G-6.0106b, have reconsidered and voted “Yes” in favor of 08-B. To date, there have been no reversals of previous “Yes” votes.

There is a shift underway, which can be seen even in the ties and close votes that have moved toward ratification A shift that emphasizes the real chance we have of embracing the recommendation of the 218th General Assembly to ratify of 08-B.

Across the national church, progressive organizations are faithfully at work, reaching out to minister members (active and retired) and elder commissioners of every presbytery. We ask you to join us in contacting all who have yet to hold their presbytery meetings, encouraging them to attend their gatherings and vote. We also ask that you extend to them the resources that are available from every major progressive group to assist in their discernment process. (Attached is an extensive packet from More Light Presbyterians that is comprehensive and very helpful.)

It is important to know that in each progressive group, individuals are prepared to talk with you and others you suggest, ready to answer questions and provide support. We welcome those who are in favor of ratification, and we respect those who are unable to support the position for change. Be assured that everyone is honored with such respect and courtesy. Christian ethics and practices never cease; during such times, they are critical. This is about the Church of Jesus Christ, the Body of Christ and our relationship with one another – differences and all – in a church that is near to welcoming our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender sisters and brothers as never before.

Please Help in Welcoming Unity and Healing:
The real work of unity and healing will follow the ratification of 08. We need you to help end this forty-one year struggle and usher in a new time. Here are some of the things you can do:

1. If you are able, be a voice in small groups and on the floor of your presbytery. Contact us if you would like help in ideas in participating in this way.

2. Please take note of the upcoming presbytery meetings. If you are a member of any of these presbyteries, contact minister members (active and retired), Elder commissioners, Commissioned Lay Pastors, and all those who might vote. Dialogue with them, encouraging them to attend the presbytery meeting (offer to travel with them, if you can), and extend to them the resources that are available.

3. If you know others in different presbyteries that might be willing to support the ratification of 08-B, reach out to them, asking them to attend their meeting and vote.

4. Send the attached resource packet from More Light Presbyterians to all those you think may find it helpful.

5. If you have someone you would like contacted, reach out to one of the progressive partners of let us know. We are ready to speak with them them.

6. If you know anyone in your or other presbyteries that may need a ride to a meeting, contact us. We are creating a network to make sure that anyone who wishes to get to a meeting, requires child care, or has other special needs are accommodated so they are able to vote.

If there is anything else you can think of, let me know or contact any of your friends within the progressive groups that are listed below or others in your regional areas. Everyone is ready to help.

We have until May 18th to enter into the promise of this kairos, a passage that will lead us to a time of unity and healing, embracing the teachings of Jesus AND one another, extending the gifts and energies of all into a world that needs us, more than we know.

Blessing upon you all,

Ray Bagnuolo 914 682 3659
Minister-at-Large Presbytery of Hudson River; Member of the Board of More Light Presbyterians

Contact Information

Covenant Network Tricia Dykers Koenig

More Light Presbyterian Resource Packet on 08-B on the website Debra Peevey

Presbyterian Welcome Comprehensive and up-to-date information on the vote

That All May Freely Serve

Witherspoon Society

Prebytery Votes for 2/20-2/21/09

At Friday and Saturday presbytery meetings, these presbyteries' results have been announced:
Yes Votes:
Arkansas (a reversal): 116 yes - 64 no
Eastern Oregon: 22 yes - 6 no
Giddings-Lovejoy: 125 yes - 83 no
Greater Atlanta (a reversal): 243 yes - 233 no - 5 Abstentions
John Knox: 39 yes - 13 no
Mid-Kentucky: 90 yes - 19 no
New Hope (a reversal): 177 yes - 139 no - 1 abstention
Ohio Valley (reversal): 57 yes - 44 no
Sante Fe: 110 yes - 23 no
Tres Rios (a reversal): 37 yes- 34 no

No Votes
Homestead: 37 yes - 40 no
The James: 125 yes - 192 no
Lake Erie: 32 yes - 58 no
North Alabama: 30 yes - 48 no
Sacramento: 65 yes - 75 no
Tropical Florida: 21 yes - 93 no

So far, 15 presbyteries have reversed their positions since their last G-6.0106b-related vote

As of this note:
34 Yes - 45 No

A Note:
Such a close votes, once again, point to the work that will follow the ratification of this amendment. Passage will usher in a time of unity and healing, more than any celebration of victory. The reason for eliminating the exisitng G-6.0106b is to be able to move forward in our church and this world in the ways we have been called to serve, without the barriers that have been erected to separate us.

Ratification is a critical step to the unity of this church and our message to those seeking to follow the teachings of Jesus in their lives.

Please continue to pray with us for a time when such healing and welcoming are the gifts we share with all.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

In a time of for...

Have you taken the daring step of visiting some of the websites dedicated to the opposition of the ordination of LGBT folk in the PC(USA) and broader church? It's really something else. If we hadn't heard it all before, it would be overwhelming. As it is, it is often shocking, distasteful, and woefully inaccurate.

In the midst of our process for ratification of Amendment 08-B that will rewrite G-6.0106b and remove the obstacles for calling LGBT folk to the full work and worship of the PC(USA) - in the midst of all these conversations, I have noticed something. It's simple and telling. Those who are trying to move this church into a place of love and justice for all - are voting "for" a new church in this very important way. Those opposed are voting "against" such a place.

And, you know, I get it. I do get why many faithful individuals are unable to move to fully accept their sisters and brothers who are LGBT. I understand the deep challenges that this honestly presents for many. With those folks, we still vote for inclusion - their inclusion, as well as ours. God will take care of the rest. We will help with the healing.

As for the rest of us, it's time for...not a pause, not more delays, simply...for: an inclusively just and radically loving and welcoming church for all. It's time for...the ratification of 08-B.


If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

Here is a story of hope and a call for change. This is the statement of Rev. Richard Hong, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Englewood, New Jersey, to his presbytery expressing his support for the 218th General Assembly's Ordination Amendment 08-B. Rev. Hong offered this statement as part of the discernment and dialogue time before the vote on 08-B in Palisades Presbytery. Palisades Presbytery approved Amendment 08-B by a vote of 35 Yes to 20 No. This is a 63.6% approval rating for 08-B. (Posted by Michael Adee, on the website: 2/5/09)

Rev. Richard Hong on the 218th General Assembly's Ordination Amendment 08-B:

I am on the Bills and Overtures Committee representing the Committee on Preparation for Ministry, and it is from that perspective that I comment on 08-B. On CPM, our job is to discern whom God has called. For pastors, elders, and deacons, the question to the congregation at our installations asks that they affirm that the person being elected was “chosen by God through the voice of this congregation.”

“Chosen by God” – that is why I oppose the sort of categorical limitations that were so unwisely added to G-6.0106 a decade ago. Every time we categorically exclude persons from office: persons of color, women – we’re wrong. God has and will continue to surprise us by the people God chooses.

The proposed new language for this section of the Book of Order is far superior because it puts the emphasis where it should be: on the call of God and the desire of those who are called to undertake their office with sincere fidelity to the standards as they are understood by the ordaining body.

That is not to say that there are no limitations appropriately placed on the behavior of persons in office. But in the case of gay/lesbian people, is celibacy a reasonable requirement? The question of whether celibacy could ever be a reasonable standard for officers is not a new question; in fact, it is a 400-year old question: one that Calvin answered “no.” Calvin said that while celibacy was a spiritual gift given to some, it could not reasonably be demanded of all who were called to ministry. To Calvin, the demand was unjust.

The new language does not mean that anything goes. It simply means that a categorical pre-emptive exclusion will be replaced by individual discernment and evaluation by the governing body to whom the person is accountable.

Some of you are concerned about the effect this may have on the church. The defenders of the status quo have always tried to scare us into believing that integration would be the end of the church, that expanding our confessional standards beyond Westminster would be the end of the church, or that the ordination of women would be the end of the church. Yet those things happened and the church lives on.
But the church suffers when we choose the status quo and fail to act on the side of justice.

My favorite quote of Desmond Tutu’s is “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

This presbytery has a long history of voting to lift its feet off of those who are being stepped on by the world or by the church. Tonight we have an opportunity to do so again, and I pray that we will.