LOUISVILLE

Twenty-four former moderators of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly have written a letter to the church pleading to “move forward as a unified and missional expression of the Body of Christ.”

The letter comes in the wake of the ratification of Amendment 10-A to the PC(USA) constitution, which relaxes the church’s prohibition against  the ordination of sexually active  gays and lesbians as church officers.

That provision ― G-6.0106b, which requires “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness” ― has been replaced by language calling for candidates for ordination “to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life” and affirms the responsibility of ordaining bodies to examine each candidate’s fitness for office individually.

In their letter, the former moderators acknowledge that some of them have supported the change and others have worked for retention of the “fidelity and chastity” standard. In the end, they state, “we believe that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) needs the voices and gifts of all of us.”

Only former moderator the Rev. David Dobler (205th GA -1993) declined to sign the letter.

The full text:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Greetings in the name of our Risen Lord!

We write to you as former Moderators of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and as disciples of Jesus Christ who love the church.

Now that Amendment 10-A has been passed in a majority of our presbyteries, we are aware of the mixture of feelings and fears that this decision has created. As those who have been privileged to serve as elected leaders of our denomination, we represent a spectrum of opinion about the wisdom and faithfulness of this change in our ordination standards. Some of us have worked and prayed for this change to happen, and some of us have worked and prayed that the current wording in the Book of Order would hold firm. But all of us fervently hope that the church will move forward as a unified and missional expression of the Body of Christ.

We affirm that Jesus Christ is Head of the Church, and continues to guide and direct it.  The decision to adopt Amendment 10-A does not bind the conscience of any Presbyterian, nor does it create a mandate for ordaining particular individuals. Instead it directs each congregation and presbytery to prayerfully discern the gifts and call of each candidate for ordination, guided by Scripture and the confessions. And it calls all ordained officers to “submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”

We believe that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) needs the voices and gifts of all of us, whether we agree with Amendment 10-A or not.  Our unity is strengthened by our diversity, and vigorous debate as well as mutual forbearance is essential to the body. After thirty years of struggle related to the call and ordination of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, it is now time to move forward. We pray that God will bless all of us with a fresh commitment to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with a world hungry for the grace, justice, and truth of the Gospel.

Relying upon the wisdom of the Apostle Paul we "beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one anther in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4: 1-2).

Faithfully yours,

The Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel
214th GA-PCUSA (2002)

Elder Thelma Adair
188th GA-UPCUSA (1976)

The Rev. Susan R. Andrews
215th GA-PCUSA (2003)

The Rev. Robert W. Bohl
206th GA-PCUSA (1994)

Elder Patricia Brown
209th GA-PCUSA (1997)

The Rev. John M. Buchanan
208th GA-PCUSA (1996)

Elder Marj Carpenter
207th GA-PCUSA (1995)

The Rev. John M. Fife
204th GA-PCUSA (1992)

Elder Freda A. Gardner
211th GA-PCUSA (1999)

The Rev. Joan A. Gray
217th GA-PCUSA (2006-07)

Elder Price H. Gwynn III
202nd GA-PCUSA (1990)

The Rev. Charles A. Hammond
192nd GA-UPCUSA (1980)

The Rev. Robert C. Lamar
186th GA-UPCUSA (1974)

The Rev. William P. Lytle
190th GA-UPCUSA (1978)

Elder Sara Bernice Moseley
118th GA-PCUS (1978)

The Rev. Harriet Nelson
196th GA-PCUSA (1984)

The Rev. Douglas W. Oldenburg
210th GA-PCUSA (1998)

The Rev. Syngman Rhee
212th GA-PCUSA (2000)

The Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow
218th GA-PCUSA (2008-09)

The Rev. Jack Rogers
213th GA-PCUSA (2001)

Elder Rick Ufford-Chase
216th GA-PCUSA (2004-05)

The Rev. Herbert D. Valentine
203rd GA-PCUSA (1991)

The Rev. Benjamin Weir
198th GA-PCUSA (1986)

The Rev. Albert C. Winn
119th GA-PCUS (1979)

Elder William H. Wilson
197th GA-PCUSA (1985)