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.

25 June 2008

The Presbyterian Church Needs to be Inclusive, says “New Church (R)evolution”

The Presbyterian Church Needs to be Inclusive, says “New Church (R)evolution”

san jose, ca, June 25, 2008:

On the evening of June 24, the (R)evolutionary Revival Worship Service took place at the Parkside Walkway in downtown San Jose. There were about a hundred enthusiastic participants at the worship service. Most of these were in San Jose for the biennial General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). This service was coordinated by a group calling itself “The New Church (R)evolution,” a group of young people associated with the organization That All May Freely Serve (TAMFS).

TAMFS is a national ministry based in Rochester, New York, working to create an inclusive church for all who are disenfranchised: a church honoring diversity and welcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons as full members. Full membership includes eligibility for ordination to the offices of elder, deacon, and Minister of Word and Sacrament.

Joining with the Presbyterians was a choir and band from the Metropolitan Christian Church of San Jose, who brought their rocking upbeat inspirational Christian gospel music to the crowd. "The choir was absolutely uplifting and remarkable," said one attendee. “The Spirit is definitely on the sidewalks of San Jose tonight.”

The sermon was preached by the New Church (R)evolution team coordinator, Richard Lindsay.

"There is a new Generation rising up in this church," Lindsay said in his sermon, "a welcoming generation that doesn't feel the need to fit sexuality and gender into the traditional categories."

Lindsay further pointed out that the Presbyterian Church is not losing an ideological fight with the religious right. He recognized that the Presbyterian Church is aging and failing to regenerate itself. The church needs to be more diverse and inclusive in order to attract new constituencies to the church and retain young people said Lindsay.

"We have discovered a new church in the wilderness that was once the Presbyterian Church. We are not asking them if we can be a part of their church; we are inviting them to be a part of the church that we've found." said Lindsay.

"I've been waiting for the time when the LGBT folks can be fully included in the Presbyterian Church for many years now. I am keen to fully participate in church as an ordained member, but the existing church polity is not allowing this. I feel like a second-class member of the church. It is frustrating," a lesbian at the worship service commented.

Still, there is hope for the Presbyterian Church.

Earlier in the afternoon, one of the committees of the General Assembly, Church Orders and Ministry, decided decisively to recommend that G-6.0106b be removed from the Book of Order, one of two parts of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s constitution. This provision, also known as Amendment B, has been used to exclude LGBT persons within the Presbyterian church from being ordained to serve as church officers or ministers.

The entire body of the PC(USA)’s General Assembly will now convene in plenary sessions for the next three days. Minister- and Elder-Commissioners, along with Youth Advisory Delegates, Theological Seminary Delegates, and delegates representing the international mission of the denomination, will decide whether or not to heed the invitation of the welcoming generation to be fair and inclusive.

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