Amendment B nears defeat

Presbyteries on verge of keeping 'fidelity and chastity' ordination standard

April 22, 2009

LOUISVILLE

As of April 21, Amendment B — which would replace the current Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) constitutional requirement that church officers live in “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness” with a new section G-6.0106b of The Book of Order — is within a single vote of being defeated.

The unofficial tally is 68 presbyteries in favor, 86 opposed. Eighty-seven votes are needed to decide the matter.

Last year’s 218th General Assembly proposed the amendment, which would replace the commonly-called “fidelity and chastity” clause with new language: “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 to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions. In so doing, 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 sincere efforts to adhere to these standards.”

The current “fidelity and chastity” provision was added to the Book of Order in voting following the 1996 General Assembly. Two subsequent proposals to delete it have failed in presbytery voting ― following the 1997 Assembly by a vote of 57-114 and following the 2001 Assembly by a vote of 46-127.

The vote is much closer this year.

Twenty-seven of the 127 presbyteries that voted “No” in 2001-2002 have voted in favor of this year’s amendment. One presbytery that voted “Yes” last time — San Francisco — has switched to a “No” this year.

Presbyteries have until June 28 of this year to vote.

The unofficial tally to date:

For (68): Albany, Arkansas, Baltimore, Boston, Cascades, Cayuga-Syracuse, Charlotte, Chicago, Cimarron, Denver, Des Moines, East Tennessee, Eastern Oregon, Eastminster, Elizabeth, Genesee Valley, Geneva, Giddings-Lovejoy, Grace, Grand Canyon, Great Rivers, Greater Atlanta, Heartland, Hudson River, John Knox, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Long Island, Mackinac, Maumee Valley, Miami Valley, Mid-Kentucky, Milwaukee, Monmouth, National Capital, New Brunswick, New Castle, New Hope, New York City, Newark, Newton, Northern Kansas, Northern New England, Northern New York, Ohio Valley, Palisades, Philadelphia, Redwoods, Salem, San Jose, Santa Fe, Scioto Valley, Sheppards & Lapsley, Southeastern Illinois, Susquehanna Valley, Transylvania, Tres Rios, Twin Cities Area, Utica, Wabash Valley, West Jersey, West Virginia, Western New York, Western North Carolina, Western Reserve, Whitewater Valley, Winnebago, Yellowstone.

Against (86): Abingdon, Alaska, Atlantic Korean, Beaver-Butler, Blackhawk, Carlisle, Central Florida, Central Nebraska (tie), Central Washington, Charleston–Atlantic, Cherokee, Cincinnati (tie), Coastal Carolina, Donegal, Eastern Korean, Eastern Oklahoma, Eastern Virginia, Flint River, Florida, Foothills, Glacier, Hanmi, Holston, Homestead, Huntingdon,  Indian Nations, Inland Northwest, James, John Calvin, Kendall, Lackawanna, Lake Erie, Los Ranchos, Mid-South, Midwest Hanmi, Mission (tie), Mississippi, Missouri Union, Muskingum Valley, Nevada, New Covenant, New Harmony, North Alabama, North Central Iowa, North Puget Sound, Northeast Georgia, Northumberland, Olympia, Palo Duro, Peace River, Peaks, Pines, Pittsburgh, Plains and Peaks, Prospect Hill, Providence, Pueblo, Redstone, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Fernando, San Francisco, San Gabriel, San Joaquin, San Juan, Santa Barbara, Seattle, Shenandoah, Shenango, South Alabama, South Dakota, South Louisiana, Southern Kansas, St. Andrew, St. Augustine, Stockton, Tampa Bay, Trinity, Tropical Florida, Upper Ohio Valley, Washington, Western Colorado, Western Kentucky, Wyoming, Yukon.

“No” last time, “Yes” this year (27): Arkansas, Charlotte, Cimarron, East Tennessee, Eastminster, Grace, Great Rivers, Greater Atlanta, Lake Huron, Mackinac, Maumee Valley, New Hope, Newark, Ohio Valley, Philadelphia, Salem, Scioto Valley, Sheppards & Lapsley, Southeastern Illinois, Transylvania, Tres Rios, Wabash Valley, West Jersey, West Virginia, Western North Carolina, Whitewater Valley, Yellowstone.

“Yes” last time, “No” this year (1): San Francisco.

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