The Presbyterian Church (USA) recently voted to change the constitutional standards concerning ordination. At its September stated meeting, Session unanimously affirmed that the 1st Presbyterian Church of Libertyville will continue to be a part of the denomination.
Previously, standards established in 1997 stated: "Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament."
Effective this year the new PCUSA form of government states: "Standards for ordained service reflect the church's desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life. The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation shall examine each candidate's calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate's ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation. Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates."
The change in the standards is meant to focus examination for ordination on the individual calling, gifts, preparation and suitability of a candidate for the responsibilities of the office, in joyful submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life.
The established understanding of scripture defines the proper Christian context for sexual intimacy between persons as existing within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. Our church continues to celebrate those relationships.
When considering the call to ordination, other faithful understandings of scripture may envision sexual intimacy as appropriate within a legally recognized lifelong commitment between two persons. For purposes of ordination, such an understanding should be carefully examined according to the Presbyterian Understanding and Use of Scripture and be judged according to the full context of a candidate's life and witness as well as the duties of the calling.
Dated this 17thday of October, 2011 Respectfully Submitted, The Session of the 1st Presbyterian Church Libertyville