What is the place of covenanted same-gender partnerships in the Christian community?

It is a question the General Assembly Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage is posing to the church for input.

It is also one piece of the mandate the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) gave the committee when the assembly called on its Moderator to appoint the group.

The full mandate calls for the committee to study "the history of the laws governing marriage and civil union, including current policy debates; how the theology and practice of marriage have developed in the Reformed and broader Christian tradition; the relationship between civil union and Christian marriage; the effects of current laws on same-gender partners and their children, and the place of covenanted same-gender partnerships in the Christian community."

"We not only covet the prayers of folks across the church as we do our work," said the Reverend Jim Szeyller (Charlotte Presbytery), "but we also want as much input as possible."

Szeyller, who chairs the special committee, continued, "While we have divided ourselves into sub-groups to address the other issues within our mandate, it is that piece in particular — the place of covenanted same-gender partnerships in the Christian community — that we’d like to hear thoughts on."

Guidelines for input to the special committee include a maximum of 1000 words and a deadline of August 16, 2009.

Responses can be sent electronically to civilunion.marriage@pcusa.org or mailed to Civil Union and Christian Marriage Committee, Office of the General Assembly, Room 4621, 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202-1396.

The committee is scheduled to meet in September, during which they will discuss the input they received from across the denomination. They plan to make available shortly after their meeting a draft of their final report to the 219th General Assembly (2010).

In addition to Szeyller, members of the special committee are the Reverends Clayton F. Allard (Grace Presbytery), Emily J. Anderson (East Tennessee Presbytery), Earl Arnold (Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery), Margaret Aymer Oget (Greater Atlanta Presbytery), Tracie Mayes Stewart (Salem Presbytery), William Teng (National Capital Presbytery), and Derrick Weston (Pittsburgh Presbytery); and elders Luis Antonio De La Rosa (Pacific Presbytery), Katina Miner (San Francisco Presbytery), Stephen L. Salyards (San Gabriel Presbytery), and Lisa Cooper Van Riper (Foothills Presbytery). Emily W. Miller (Shenandoah Presbytery) also serves as a member.

Comments, suggestions, and questions can be directed to the special committee.