Committee of the Presbyterian Church (USA) approves marriage equality amendment

By the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, Task Force Faith Work Director

Step by step the longest march, can be done, can be done… many stones do build an arch, singly, none…singly, none…

– Sweet Honey in the Rock, from Step by Step on The Other Side by Flying Fish Records, 1985

The Civil Union and Marriage Committee of the General Assembly of the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has just passed a resolution (known as an overture) to update the Directory of Worship (part of the Presbyterian Church’s Constitution) to change the definition of marriage from a “man and a woman” to “two persons.”  The committee vote was 28-24. The committee also passed legislation calling on the PCUSA to study the meaning of Christian marriage.

The entire body of the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) will likely vote on the matter today.

This vote comes two years after the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to support the ordination of LGBT clergy — a huge and historic change that was a victory for justice and allowed so many gifted and talented LGBT clergy to serve openly in the denomination of their births and choice. One story in particular, that of Scott Anderson illustrates the power of this kind of prophetic action.

But, more importantly, this vote by the Civil Union and Marriage Committee gives testimony to the power of literally hundreds of thousands of small acts of faithfulness, committed over decades, in the context of millions of relationships. This vote of the Civil Union and Marriage Committee is part of a much larger movement continues to spring up within the Presbyterian Church (USA) and in every other religious community on the planet — one of extravagant welcome, of deep interconnectedness, of the celebration of ALL of God’s children for who they are and how they manifest God’s love in the world.

No matter how the rest of the General Assembly votes today — and they may not have the courage to affirm the committee’s decision — we know that this movement within all our religious traditions and so powerfully present within the Presbyterian Church (USA), is a gift from God.

UPDATE: The proposal didn’t muster sufficient votes to begin the ratification process, but the discussion will continue. More details here.