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Further Context for Session's Letter
On Gender, Sexuality, Marriage, and Leadership
April 2016


Session’s letter is a response to our earlier commitment to address issues related to gender, sexuality, marriage, and leadership raised by our denomination’s shift in position. While significant Bible study, theological reflection, prayer, discernment, and frank self-examination undergird the letter, the fruit of our labors is not a consensus theological vision on these matters. Rather, it is a letter to a beloved congregation from their Elders and Pastors that expresses our best understandings and decisions about how we as a church will seek to follow Jesus and love our neighbors with respect to these questions.

The letter recognizes the present diversity within our congregation and offers a frame and guide for our engagement and life together as a church going forward. So while the letter does not aim to reconcile our theological differences, it does specify certain commitments and practices that we believe are important as we…

  • claim and honor our foundational unity in Christ
  • clarify our position on marriage with respect to that taken by the PC(USA)
  • situate concerns about ordained leadership within appropriate decision making bodies accountable to the congregation
  • further enable honest dialogue as our genuine differences can now be discussed apart from attempts to secure particular outcomes
  • encourage humility as we contend together for a faith that seeks understanding through Christ and his Word

We are aware that for some, our statements “On Marriage” and “On Ordained Leadership” appear to be in conflict. In our view, these two affirmations need not be seen as contradictory, but are offered in creative and corrective tension. Each informs the other, and taken together they provide the requisite tone, occasion, and context for particular and pastoral conversations to take place. Our position embodies our identity as a community “reformed and always reforming,” committed to the ongoing work of God’s Spirit to guide us in obedience to truth. In this, we affirm the role and authority of our teaching elders and others who seek to rightly interpret the scriptures. We acknowledge Christ as Lord of the conscience and trust God’s sovereignty over the church.

Our position also reflects our common cause in Christ, and conscious choice to remain together amid our diversity rather than to break fellowship over this issue. We entrust ourselves to God’s ongoing efforts to mold and shape us in his likeness as we live, work, and pray for the fullness of his kingdom. The New Testament ends with the words, “Even so, come Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Rev. 22:20-21). May we hold to that desire and hope as we love God and one another in this time of challenge.