New Church (R)evolution

This year, at the Presbyterian General Assembly, LGBTQ people & allies of the upcoming generation will claim their birthright at members of a just & inclusive church.

02 July 2008


On The Occasion of the Vote by the
General Conference of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
to Overturn the Ban on the Ordination of Lesbians and Gay Men
June 30, 2008


On behalf of the friends and members of Metropolitan Community Churches, we welcome the decision of the national governing body of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to overturn the long-standing ban on the ordination of lesbians and gay men.

The decision by the General Assembly is a positive step forward for the many lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) persons who are called by God to serve as ordained clergy within the Presbyterian Church (USA) -- and will also bless the larger Church by opening new places of service to the ministry and giftedness of LGBT people.

To become church policy, this decision must be approved over the next year by a majority of the 173 regional presbyteries in the U.S. The friends and members of Metropolitan Community Churches pledge our faithful prayers for the final adoption of this policy throughout the upcoming ratification process.

We encourage our brothers and sisters in each presbytery, like the midwives of Egypt, to feel the call of life more strongly than anything else, and to unite both in ratifying this historic vote and standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality before God.

Many LGBT organizations and persons have devoted their lives to the pursuit of equality. Today, we honor those organizations, including That All May Freely Serve, Covenant Network of Presbyterians, and More Light Presbyterians, that have worked so long to make this day possible. We salute the many individuals whose lives have served as powerful witnesses to God's calling and grace upon lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons. In doing so, we acknowledge our friends and colleagues who worked for this day but did not live to see it, and those who have given their entire professional lives to achieve this level of inclusion. We are grateful for their vision and faithfulness.

Please join me in prayers that this action by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) will serve as witness to the radically inclusive gospel of Jesus Christ and that it might inspire each of us to renew our commitment to spiritual justice for all God's people.

Grace and peace,


The Reverend Nancy L. Wilson
Metropolitan Community Churches

27 June 2008

Breaking News: Presbyterians Vote to Recognize Equal Rights for Families of Same-Gender Partners

Presbyterians Vote to Recognize Equal Rights for Families of Same-Gender Partners

SAN JOSE—The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) voted 516-151 (13 abstentions) Friday night to recognize equal rights for families of same-gender partners.

In so doing, the Assembly sought to “renew and strengthen the long-standing Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) commitment to equal protection under the law for lesbian and gay persons and the 216th General Assembly (2004)’s affirmation of the right of same-gender persons to civil union and, thereby, to all the benefits, privileges, and responsibilities of civil union.”

The Assembly further recognized that “married couples enjoy more than 1,000 protections, benefits, and responsibilities that are denied to committed couples in same-gender partnerships and their children.”

The Assembly also requested Presbyterians to urge state legislatures and the federal government to apply the principle of equal protection to same-gender couples and their children.

A special committee will be appointed by the Moderator, representing the range of perspectives within the PCUSA, to study the history and current policies governing marriage and civil union; the theology and practice of marriage in the Reformed and broader Christian tradition; the relationship between civil union and Christian marriage; the effects of current law on same-gender partners and their children; and the place of covenanted same-gender partnerships in the Christian community.

However, the action clearly expressed its intent that “This overture seeks to renew and strengthen the commitment of the PCUSA to equal protection under the law, encourage steps to reinforce this commitment and to affirm the importance of pastoral care and outreach to non-traditional families, including those same-gender commitment partners. This overtures advocates for equal rights and does not seek to redefine the nature of Christian marriage.”

An action seeking to consider redefining the understanding of marriage as a covenant and civil contract between “two people” instead of the current language of “a man and a woman,” was defeated earlier in the evening 540-161 with three abstentions.

Still, the action asserted the PCUSA’s “Support [for] congregations, sessions, and ministers of Word and Sacrament who are seeking to extend pastoral care as well as outreach and evangelism to same-gender couples and their nontraditional families who are more and more our neighbors on our streets and our fellow members in our pews.”

The full text of the Assembly action can be found at:

For more information and related articles, please visit: That All May Freely Serve

June 27, 2008
By Le Anne Clausen

New Church (R)evolution is the young adult program of That All May Freely Serve, which seeks full inclusion of all members of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA).

Presbyterians Seek Alternatives to Litigation Against Departing Congregations

Presbyterians Seek Alternatives to Litigation Against Departing Congregations

SAN JOSE—The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) voted 519-157 to ask individual congregations and regional governing committees (presbyteries) to develop processes which allow congregations to depart the denomination without resorting to costly litigation.

Previous church policy has held that individual church buildings and property belong to the Presbytery in their geographic location rather than the congregation; and that a congregation wishing to dissolve their relationship with the denomination would lose their property in the process. According to speakers on the floor, 39 lawsuits have been filed by presbyteries and the national denomination against congregations seeking to leave the church body.

This issue has generated particular interest given the deliberation of the PCUSA over full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons in the life of the church, especially in recognizing same-gender marriages and ordination. Fear of congregations leaving the denomination has been a frequent concern expressed by those opposing full inclusion, and those favoring inclusion believe this is a significant reason full inclusion has not yet been affirmed by the denomination.

Speakers in favor of today’s action noted the burdensome cost of pursuing litigation and the barrier to open communication and pastoral care that often occurs with litigation. They also noted that such litigation is also “deadly to the cause of Christ,” and causes harm to relationships.
The action states, “the presbytery’s pastoral responsibility… must not be submerged beneath other responsibilities,” and that “it is our belief that Scripture and the Holy Spirit require a gracious witness from us rather than a harsh legalism.”

The Reverend Robert Austell, Presbytery of Charlotte, and Elder Archie Smith, Presbytery of San Joaquin, offered the following hope in their written rationale for the move:
“This could result in a final picture, not of two embittered enemies in court, but in mutual blessing and partnership in the midst of the sadness of parting. We envision presbytery leadership and local church leadership working together to bless and make way for a majority group and to take great care to relocate and shepherd a minority group. This could be the last great joint mission effort of two parts of Christ’s body who are focusing on different mission fields.”

Full text of the action may be found at:

Further information may be found by visiting:

New Church (R)evolution is the young adult program of That All May Freely Serve, which seeks full inclusion of all members of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA).

June 27, 2008
By Le Anne Clausen

Breaking News: Presbyterians Deny Recognition of Same-Gender Marriages

Presbyterians Deny Recognition of Same-Gender Marriages

SAN JOSE—The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) voted Friday evening to deny a change of language that would recognize marriage as a covenant between “two people” instead of “a man and a woman.”

The vote differed 540 to 161, with three abstentions. However, Youth Advisory Delegates, Theological Student Advisory Delegates, and Missionary Advisory Delegates were split nearly evenly on the issue.

The overture, originally presented by the Baltimore Presbytery, asked for the denomination to send the proposed amendments to the presbyteries for their affirmative or negative response. The Baltimore Presbytery reasoned that "in our churches and communities same gender couples are living together in loving, committed, monogamous relationships. They are raising children, caring for aging parents, and making positive contributions to their communities. These couples include new and long-time members of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Their relationships are equivalent to a marriage in every way but formal recognition by the church and by most states in which they live, though some states are recognizing their relationships as marriages or civil unions."

Since 1991, the PCUSA has worked under an 'Authoritative Interpretation' that distinguishes between same-sex unions, which it has permitted within the church, and homosexual marriage, which it has not. In 2000, an ecclesiastical court ruling (Benton v. Presbytery of Hudson River) affirmed this teaching and distinguished between "a permissible same-sex ceremony and a marriage ceremony is that the latter confers a new status whereas the former blesses an existing relationship."

Still to be decided tonight by the Assembly is whether to affirm the committee's recommendation to recognize the family health care rights of domestic partners, and whether to persue through litigation properties belonging to congregations who elect to leave the PCUSA.

By Le Anne Clausen
June 27, 2008

For more information, please visit:

Breaking News: Presbyterians vote to approve change of ordination policies for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ministers, deacons, and elders

June 27, 2008

San Jose, CA --Shortly before noon on Friday, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) voted to change ordination policies of the denomination. Up to now, requirements included "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." The new passage simply states that candidates for ordination "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." The motion will now be sent to the individual presbyteries (regional clusters of congregations) for ratification, and will need to pass by a simple majority in order to change the Book of Order (constitution).

For more information, please visit:

Hate Group Accosts Presbyterians at General Assembly

San Jose, CA—Carrying signs and shouting epithets such as "Jesus hates you" and "All Presbyterians will burn in hell," a hate group accosted dozens of participants in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA)'s General Assembly at the San Jose Convention Center Wednesday night.

The group arrived a day after the denomination's committee recommendation to the Assembly to delete G-6.0106(b), a clause that excludes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons in relationships from being ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament.

The group brought large signs declaring, "Homosexuality is a Threat to National Security," and positioned themselves on the plaza outside the Convention Center. Presbyterian commissioners (voting delegates), youth delegates, and other participants in the Assembly were returning from a supper break when the incident occurred.

In response, members of New Church (R)evolution (NCR), a young adult program of That All May Freely Serve, formed a nonviolent counter-witness by kneeling in a line in front of the protestors and praying and singing about God's love for all people. NCR members also offered freshly-baked cookies to comfort Presbyterians who were distressed at the behavior of the protestors.

A male protestor who appeared to be leading the group shouted obscenities at the women kneeling. After several more statements such as these, a young woman kneeling with the group broke down in tears. One of the protestors shouted at her, "You'll be crying when you're burning in hell!" Later, another young woman observing the group also broke down in tears as the man began to harangue her also. NCR members counseled the women and escorted them away from the man.

The group's signs advertised that they belonged to Bema Ministries. According to Bema's website (, they are "a husband and wife evangelism team…..[intending to] publicly preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people, mostly on college campuses and at large events such as the Super Bowl, Mardi-Gras, Fantasy Fest, and the like." A photo on their site shows two of the group members who were present at the Convention Center incident smiling and wearing t-shirts saying, "Only Jesus Christ the Messiah can save you from burning in Hell!"

Later in the evening, Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick, the administrative head of the PCUSA, advised the Assembly that the police had been called to intervene with the protestors because their behavior had "offended and concerned" many members of the Assembly. However, he explained, the police could not intervene further since the protestors were on the sidewalk and not on public property.

New Church (R)evolution plans to continue being a nonviolent presence in response to the Bema group throughout the Assembly as needed.

For photos and more details, please visit

By Le Anne Clausen
June 26, 2008

Other links:
Also available on Facebook "New Church R Evolution"

Howard B. Warren Award to Jim and Jackie Spahr

Today That All May Freely Serve honored two life-long advocates of LGBT equality. Each year TAMFS presents the Howard B. Warren Award to individuals who embody the same passion and radical inclusion that Howard Warren envisioned for the church. Warren was often described as “God’s Glorious Gadfly!” Today we celebrated Warren’s deep-seated love for the Church as TAMFS presented Jim and Jackie Spahr with the Howard B. Warren Award.

Jim and Jackie have a long history of supporting LGBT equality. They were the founders of the PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter in their community, and were at the forefront of advocating for full insurance coverage of those living with HIV/AIDS. Jim and Jackie have also been strong proponents of marriage equality and full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church.

Today’s event took place outside the San Jose Convention Center where the 218th General Assembly of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is currently meeting.

see photos here