MEMORIAL FROM GRACE PRESBYTERY REGARDING THE 1996 GENERAL ASSEMBLY STATEMENT ON HOMOSEXUALITY AS INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE
WHEREAS the General Assembly approved a resolution in 1996 on “Homosexuality” as a theological and social practice statement to guide the lower judicatories (sessions, presbyteries, synods), and
WHEREAS this 1996 resolution stated that homosexuality is incompatible with the Christian lifestyle and that the Cumberland Presbyterian Church should not condone the ordination of practicing homosexuals as deacons, elders or ministers of Word and Sacrament(1996 GA minutes, page 313 -link below), and
WHEREAS at the end of the 1996 statement, the resolution paraphrases the CP constitution stating that only presbyteries (ministers CF 6.30) and church sessions (elders and deacons CF 2.91) conduct ordinations, and
WHEREAS the Confession of Faith states the responsibility of the General Assembly is to “bear testimony against error in doctrine and immorality in practice, injuriously affecting the church” (CF 9.4.b), and give oversight to lower judicatories (CF 9.4. g), and resolve divisive issues (CF 9.4.k), and
WHEREAS the 1996 statement on homosexuality has been posted on the homepage of the General Assembly office’s website for many years (https://www.cumberland.org/gao see “General Assembly Statement on Homosexuality”), leaving the impression that this is the position of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and
WHEREAS some ministers, church leaders, presbyteries and sessions interpret the General Assembly’s statement on homosexuality to be nonbinding on church sessions and presbyteries, because the 1996 statement says it is “Not to be understood as a rule or principle for ordination,” then the statement explains General Assembly cannot constitutionally “usurp the authority of presbytery or session to ordain,” and
WHEREAS there are ministers, church leaders, presbyteries and sessions who are advocates and promoters of the ordination of LBGTQ+ persons, which does include homosexual practices, and
WHEREAS other ministers, church leaders, presbyteries and sessions interpret the 1996 General Assembly statement as clear guidance (oversight CF 9.4) for lower judicatories not to ordain practicing homosexuals, and
WHEREAS in the light of different views expressed about accepting or not accepting LBGTQ+ ordinations in presbyteries and church sessions, and in the light of different opinions about the meaning of the 1996 statement, and considering the possibility of ordinations that some and not others would accept, the General Assembly must assume its constitutional responsibility and give lower judicatories guidance on LBGTQ+ ordinations, and
WHEREAS the General Assembly can quickly bring clarity to this issue by simply accepting or denying this memorial, thus affirming or rescinding the 1996 statement about homosexuality as the position of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
THEREFORE, be it resolved that: Consistent with the 1996 General Assembly statement on homosexuality, the position of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church is that homosexuality as a practice is not in keeping with Christian lifestyle and that the ordination of church leaders who are practicing homosexuals is not compatible with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church’s theology and moral values.
I certify that this is a true copy of a memorial adopted by Grace Presbytery on March 18,2022.
Signed Jessie Dunnaway, Stated Clerk, Grace Presbytery
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