On March 11, 2023, Japan Presbytery publicly announced their official response to the proposed exclusionary amendments to the Constitution of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America. Japan Presbytery urges the church to carefully consider its concerns and reject the proposed amendments, in part, because their approval will hinder the church’s evangelistic efforts. The full statement follows:

Japan Presbytery’s Response to the Proposed Amendments to the Constitution 2.92, 4.2, and 6.35

Praise the name of the Lord!

We, Japan Presbytery, extend our heartfelt greetings to all our brothers and sisters in Christ of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church around the world. We salute you for your unceasing service to the Lord and for your faithful ministry in each region, even in these difficult times.

It is our great joy that we are saved by the gospel of reconciliation in the Lord Jesus Christ and connected with you in the bond of Christ to be one family of God’s people. Our General Assembly is a precious place where we reaffirm our identity as a global faith community.

Now we of Japan Presbytery must share our concern about the constitutional amendments referred to the Joint Committee on Amendments by the 191st General Assembly. We beg you to listen to a voice from Asia before this matter is finally decided.

The Confession of Faith of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church states that “God’s word spoken in and through the scriptures should be understood in the light of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth” (1.06). Jesus always acted to do God’s will even when he was criticized for breaking the Law. “What would Jesus do” is the principle our Confession of Faith upholds. If we exclude someone on the basis of rules in existing documents, we disobey that principle. Any resolution that would result in the exclusion of LGBTQ+ people, an important part of the church family, cannot be justified. For, as God’s people, we are called to live beyond differences of race, ethnicity, nationality, language, mental or physical ability, and sexual identity. This diversity enriches our fellowship. We are invited to accept and love one another and live in God’s kingdom.

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church has always been wise not to make a simple judgment on controversial matters that could eventually divide the church. It is not our practice to use specific passages of Scripture to muffle some voices that offer diverse points of view based on their interpretation of our faith and its scripture. We are the people who seek reconciliation and unity in Christ, not division. If we should cause anyone seeking to live a life of committed faith in Jesus to think it is impossible to stay in the church, such an act is meaningless to the church, and even hinders our evangelistic efforts.

Therefore, we, Japan Presbytery, cannot accept the proposed amendments referred to the Joint Committee on Amendments. We pray that our General Assembly will make a wise decision in the Lord.

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