June 28, 2021

Dear Members of the Committee on Theology and Social Concerns and Unification Task Force,

First, I want to thank you for your dedication and attention to this matter. I know that many in our churches have pushed for a quick answer or a hurried response, and I am heartened and grateful for your deliberateness and careful consideration of each person’s voice.

Attached to this note is the Cumberland Presbyterian Youth and Young Adult Statement on Inclusion. It is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Ministry Council or any other official body of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. It is also not meant to be representative of all youth or young adults in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Rather, it seeks to capture the voices of those who have not been previously heard–a contingency of people who yearn to see a full affirmation of all people in our church.

As of June 28, 2021, 164 people have signed this statement. Of those who reported their age, 71% of the respondents were between the ages of 13-30. Among the 143 people who listed a presbytery, 15 different presbyteries were represented, including Andes and Medellin Presbyteries.

As a representative of the signatories, I hope that you will prayerfully and earnestly consider our words. Our beliefs are based upon the teachings and scripture we learned in our CP churches, at church camp, and in youth group. We were taught by our leaders that each person is welcomed in church, loved by God, and called to serve God, including by serving as church leaders; we are now seeking to live out that teaching. Contrary to some characterizations of this view, our statement is drawn from Christ’s message of love and grounded in our reading of Scripture.

While we may disagree, I ask that you listen to the voices of these youth and young adults in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and leave space for us all to learn, grow, and serve God’s creation.

Respectfully Submitted, 

Elizabeth Brown Forester 

Cumberland Presbyterian Youth and Young Adult Statement on Inclusion

An Open Letter to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church:

We, a body of youth and young adults from across the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, sign this statement as an affirmation of our support and real Christian love for LGBTQIA+ individuals in our communities, in our churches, and in our lives.

We come from varied backgrounds and church homes. Some of us were born into the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, with generations of CP ministers and elders running through our blood. Others of us have found the CP church in our childhood and youth, drawn in by our welcoming communities. All of us have been nurtured and sustained through youth groups, church camps, young adult ministries, and our home congregations.

Our denomination values the voices and work of youth and young adults through the long history of Youth Advisory Delegates to the General Assembly, youth representation on denominational committees, the Youth Ministry Planning Council, and the Young Adult Ministry Council. We have been taught by our leaders and mentors the value of speaking out and making our voices heard on important issues in the Church. We care deeply about the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and it is precisely this care and desire to remain involved in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church that we feel called to voice our commitment and resolve.

Over the past several years, we have heard discussions, often presided over by older generations, about the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in our congregations and in our church leadership. We, as future leaders of the denomination, are compelled to voice our thoughts with the hope and expectation that our insights will be considered seriously and earnestly by the present leadership.

Without equivocation, we proudly affirm, support, and bless all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, as welcomed and beloved members of our churches and as church leaders.

Having been nurtured and taught by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, we know that the CP Church welcomes “whosoever will” may come into our church bodies and as church leaders.

We recognize that each of us have been made in the very image of God (Genesis 1:26). “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139: 13-14)

We know that throughout scripture, the Holy Spirit has consistently, and will always, welcome all of us as beloved children of God, remembering Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28).

We are taught that “nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).

We know the words of the Old Testament, telling us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your being, and all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:17)

And, we know the commandments of Jesus, engraved on our hearts and minds by generations of love: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

As followers in the way of Christ, we seek to reach out to those who are being made to feel that their faith does not matter or that they will never be “good” enough in the eyes of some to receive the grace that God freely sheds on all of us. We know the value and love that God bestows on each of God’s children. As we follow the call of Jesus, we know that we best exemplify God’s love by showing love to one another and acknowledging the gifts that each person brings to our lives and to our churches. We are led by God’s command to not only welcome people regardless of sexuality or gender identity but to recognize that they are welcome because of exactly who they are–crafted in the very image of God.

As our denomination continues to live out the story of the Holy Spirit, we are filled with optimism about the ways in which we can all work to restore the kingdom of God on Earth. We are inspired about the work our brothers, sisters, and siblings in Christ are doing in our Church’s varied ministries. It is this very hope that sustains us and pushes us to make this statement. As our Church moves more fully into the 21st century, it is our expectation and desire that we do so arm-in-arm and hand-in-hand with all of our brothers, sisters, and siblings in Christ.

We step forward boldly proclaiming our love and affirming the inclusion of every person–not despite, but because of–the threads of diversity they bring into our quilt of Christian fellowship.

This is not a statement endorsed by or affiliated with the Ministry Council or any official body or person with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. This was an independent statement written primarily by Elizabeth Forester with the intention of voicing our support for inclusion of all people in the Church. People are free to sign or to not sign. It is not representative of all youth or young adults in the Church.

Link to Sign: http://bit.ly/cpyouth2021

Jóvenes y Jóvenes Adultos Presbiterianos Cumberland,
Declaración sobre la inclusión.

Una carta abierta a la Iglesia Presbiteriana Cumberland.

Nosotros, un cuerpo de jóvenes y jóvenes adultos a lo largo de la Iglesia Presbiteriana Cumberland, firmamos esta declaración como una afirmación de nuestro apoyo y verdadero amor cristiano para las personas LGBTQIA+ en nuestras comunidades, en nuestras iglesias y en nuestras vidas.

Venimos de diferentes trasfondos e iglesias locales. Algunos de nosotros nacimos en la Iglesia Presbiteriana Cumberland, con generaciones de ministros y ancianos de la PC corriendo por nuestra sangre. Otros encontramos la iglesia PC en nuestra infancia y juventud, acogidos y bienvenidos por nuestras comunidades. Todos nosotros hemos sido apoyados y sostenidos a través de nuestros grupos de jóvenes, campamentos, ministerios de jóvenes adultos y nuestras congregaciones locales.

Nuestra denominación valora la voz y el trabajo de los jóvenes y adultos jóvenes a través de una larga historia de Lideres Juveniles Delegados en la Asamblea General, la representación juvenil en los comités denominacionales, el Consejo de Planeación del Ministerio Juvenil y el Consejo Ministerial de Jóvenes Adultos. Nuestros líderes y mentores nos han enseñado el valor de hablar y hacer oír nuestras voces sobre temas importantes en la Iglesia. Nos preocupamos profundamente por la Iglesia Presbiteriana Cumberland, y es precisamente esta preocupación y deseo de seguir participando en la Iglesia Presbiteriana Cumberland que nos llama a expresar nuestro compromiso y resolución.

Durante los últimos años, hemos escuchado discusiones, a menudo dirigidas por generaciones mayores, sobre la inclusión de las personas LGBTQIA+ en nuestras congregaciones y en el liderazgo de nuestra iglesia. Nosotros, como futuros líderes de la denominación, estamos motivados a expresar nuestros pensamientos con la esperanza y la expectativa de que nuestros conocimientos sean considerados seriamente y sinceramente de parte del liderazgo actual.

Sin dudar, orgullosamente afirmamos, apoyamos y bendecimos a todas las personas, independientemente de su orientación sexual o identidad de género, como miembros que son bienvenidos y queridos en nuestras iglesias y como líderes de la iglesia.

Después de haber sido educados y enseñados por la Iglesia Presbiteriana Cumberland, sabemos que la Iglesia PC da la bienvenida a que “cualquiera que quiera” pueda ingresar a los cuerpos de nuestra iglesia y como líderes de la iglesia.

Reconocemos que cada uno de nosotros ha sido creado a la imagen misma de Dios (Génesis 1:26). “Tú creaste mis entrañas; me formaste en el vientre de mi madre. ¡Te alabo porque soy una creación admirable! ¡Tus obras son maravillosas, y esto lo sé muy bien! “(Salmo 139: 13-14)

Sabemos que a lo largo de las Escrituras, el Espíritu Santo siempre nos ha recibido a todos como hijos amados de Dios, recordando la carta de Pablo a los Gálatas: “Todos ustedes son hijos de Dios mediante la fe en Cristo Jesús, porque todos los que han sido bautizados en Cristo se han revestido de Cristo. Ya no hay judío ni griego, esclavo ni libre, hombre ni mujer, sino que todos ustedes son uno solo en Cristo Jesús.”(Gálatas 3: 26-28).

Se nos enseña que “nada puede separarnos del amor de Dios en Cristo Jesús nuestro Señor” (Romanos 8:38). Sabemos las palabras del Antiguo Testamento, que nos dicen: “Amarás al Señor tu Dios con todo tu corazón, todo tu ser y toda tu fuerza”. (Deuteronomio 6:17) Y, conocemos los mandamientos de Jesús, grabados en nuestros corazones y mentes por generaciones de amor: “Debes amar al Señor tu Dios con todo tu corazón, con todo tu ser y con toda tu mente. Este es el primer y más grande mandamiento. Y el segundo es semejante: debes amar a tu prójimo como a ti mismo ”(Mateo 22: 37-39)

Como seguidores en el camino de Cristo, buscamos alcanzar a aquellos a quienes se les está haciendo sentir que su fe no vale o que nunca serán lo suficientemente “buenos” ante los ojos de algunos para recibir la gracia que Dios derrama libremente sobre todos nosotros. Sabemos el valor y el amor que Él otorga a cada uno de los hijos de Dios. A medida que seguimos el llamado de Jesús, sabemos que evidenciamos más el amor de Dios al mostrar amor los unos por otros y al reconocer las bendiciones que cada persona trae a nuestras vidas y a nuestras iglesias. Somos guiados por el mandato de Dios a no solo dar la bienvenida a las personas sin importar su sexualidad o identidad de género, sino también a reconocer que son bienvenidos precisamente debido a quiénes son, creados a la imagen de Dios.

A medida que nuestra denominación continúa viviendo la historia del Espíritu Santo, estamos llenos de esperanza sobre las formas en que todos nosotros podemos trabajar para restaurar el reino de Dios en la Tierra. Estamos inspirados por el trabajo que nuestros hermanos y hermanas en Cristo están haciendo en los diversos ministerios de nuestra Iglesia. Es esta misma esperanza la que nos sostiene y nos empuja a hacer esta declaración. A medida que nuestra Iglesia entre más plenamente en el siglo XXI, es nuestra expectativa y deseo que lo hagamos del brazo y de la mano de todos nuestros hermanos y hermanos en Cristo.

Avanzamos audazmente proclamando nuestro amor y afirmando la inclusión de cada persona, no a pesar, sino a causa de los hilos de la diversidad que conforma nuestro tejido de comunión cristiana.

NOTA Esta no es una declaración respaldada o afiliada con el Consejo Ministerial o cualquier organismo oficial o persona de la Iglesia Presbiteriana de Cumberland. Esta fue una declaración independiente escrita principalmente por Elizabeth Forester con la intención de expresar nuestro apoyo a la inclusión de todas las personas en la Iglesia. Las personas son libres de firmar o no firmar. No es representativo de todos los jóvenes o jóvenes adultos en la Iglesia.

Link to Sign: http://bit.ly/cpyouth2021

Print Friendly, PDF & Email