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OVERTURE FROM THE SESSION OF THE PRESBYTERIAN-NEW ENGLAND CONGREGATIONAL

CHURCH, SARATOGA SPRINGS, ON AMENDING G-6.0106b.

THAT, the Presbytery of Albany, approve the following proposed overture to the 219th General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church USA (2010):

Strike the current text of G-6.0106b and insert new text to read as follows: [Text to be deleted is shown with a strike-
through; text to be added or inserted is shown as italic.]

“b. 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 (W-4.9001), 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. Those who are called to ordained service in the church, by their assent
to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003), pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus
Christ the Head of the Church, striving to follow where He leads through the witness of the Scriptures and the
interpretations of the confessions. In doing so, they declare their fidelity to the standards of the Church. Each Governing
body charged with examination for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240 and G-14.0450) establishes the candidate’s
faithful efforts to adhere to these standards.

Rationale:

1. The current language of G-6.0106b subverts the hierarchy of authority set forth in the opening chapters of the Form of
Government: we are to obey Jesus Christ as Head of the Church, the Scriptures as the authoritative witness to Him, and
then the confessions, to the extent that they accurately bear witness to Christ’s will. The proposed revision of G-6.0106b
reaffirms this hierarchy as necessary and sufficient authority for ordination.

2. The current categorical exclusion of certain church members from service in ordained office is unjust to the excluded
individuals and spiritually damaging to the body of the church. It creates a category of “second-class membership” and
fosters the heretical attitude that those assigned to this category are not really deserving of membership at all, i.e., are not
Christians. Profession of faith in Jesus Christ is and must be the only requirement for church membership (Book of Order
G-5.0103). Any policy that promotes erosion of this principle does damage to the Body of Christ.

3. According to the Book of Order, “a faithful member accepts Christ’s call to be involved in the ministry of his Church” (G-
5.0102), including “participating in the governing responsibilities of the church” (G-5.0102e). The current language of G-
6.0106b, which bars an entire class of persons from participating in some of the most important areas of church
governance, violates the conditions of membership and sets the Book of Order in contradiction with itself.

4. Ordination is an important qualification for participation in the discernment process that sustains the spiritual life of the
church at all judicatory levels. Our goal is not to “make” decisions, but to seek to discern God’s intention for us. It has
been a long-standing article of faith in our tradition that discernment requires a democratic inclusion of many voices. To
rule out certain voices in advance as ineligible is both undemocratic and unjust. True reconciliation that seeks to restore
peace, unity, and purity to the church is possible only between equals who mutually share access to power and who
acknowledge that all power, ultimately, comes from God.

5. When Christians fall into two sides through disagreement, all involved are obliged to think charitably of those on the
opposite side. If G-6.0106b is revised as proposed, the “losers” will not have lost their status as full members of the
church, eligible to participate in all decisions, including future decisions about ordination on an individual basis. On the
other hand, if the current language of G-6.0106b remains, the “losers” will continue to feel that their very humanity has
been cast in doubt by a church that condemns what they understand to be their God-given nature. Revision of G-6.0106b
will honor everyone as a child of God and will permit the assignment of particular duties on the basis of the particular gifts
that God has granted.

6. Injustice that exists now demands to be remedied now. Many a prophet would have preferred to exercise the call to
prophecy at a more opportune time, but God has always made clear that the prophetic call is immediate. To appeal now
for relief from the injustice fostered by the current language of G-6.0106b is simply to obey God’s command with humility
and love for all those who now serve and for those who earnestly desire to serve God in the future.

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