News 2002

 
December 2002 -- Presbyterian Promise will hold its Annual Meeting on 19 January 2003 at First Presbyterian Church in Hartford CT. Members of Christ Church, Presbyterian in Burlington VT will join us for conversation about their new "Statement of Compliance" and their long struggle to live faithfully with 'b'. Their "Statement" is available in the December issue of our News. Details about the meeting are available here.

9 November 2002 -- The Presbytery of Southern New England today approved Presbyterian Promise's request for recognition as a Study and Advocacy group under presbytery bylaws. This is the first middle governing body acknowledgment of Presbyterian Promise. Presbyterian Promise is also the first group to be so recognized by the presbytery. Recognition allows Presbyterian Promise improved access to and visibility in the presbytery. It does not provide for funding but does require an annual report and grants permission to distribute literature and make occasional presentations.

Co-Moderator Letty Russell explained our request by introducing the several board members present, distributing our brochure and describing recent activities -- conducting educational events at the request of churches in the presbytery, participating in two Connecticut Pride events, and joining with Presbyterian Welcome and several churches in Hudson River Presbytery in planning the recent Reformation Sunday Celebration at South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry, NY.

Several people noted this might improve communication within the presbytery about these issues. After about an hour of debate, the request was approved by 60 to 43.
 

Background

Presbyterian Promise noted several ways our mission supports that of the presbytery and denomination. 

At its May 2002 meeting, the Presbytery of Southern New England affirmed its mission to: "Glorify and enjoy God together; love and care for one another as individuals and congregations; empower congregations and individuals to share the good news of Jesus Christ at home and throughout the world." The board of Presbyterian Promise believes that its goals and vision serve to further both this stated mission of our Presbytery and those of the Presbyterian Church.
Our Mission Statement reads:
Presbyterian Promise is a ministry called to proclaim God's promise of justice and love in Jesus Christ by organizing inclusive and inquiring churches in the Presbytery of Southern New England into a community of mutual support for the empowerment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, and for outreach, education and Christian evangelism.
Further, the 1978 General Assembly "Definitive Guidance" is still official denominational policy. Presbyterian Promise's mission responds to the spirit of reconciling dialogue and hospitality characterizing many of its recommendations (pages 61-62):
3. Urges judicatories, agencies, and local churches to undertake a variety of educational activities, using both formal and informal church structures and organizations.

a. Since homosexuality is one issue that helps clarify our general responsibility to God in the world....

b. Workshops in synods and presbyteries should be conducted both to explore ways to help homosexual persons participate in the life of the church and to discover new ways of reaching out to homosexual persons outside the church.

c. Courses on sexuality should be initiated by seminaries, colleges, and churches to provide officers and members with a systematic understanding of the dynamics of human sexuality as understood within the context of Christian ethics.

d. Contact and dialogue should be encouraged among groups and persons of all persuasions on the issue of homosexuality.

4. Urges presbyteries and congregations to develop outreach programs to communities of homosexual persons beyond the church to allow higher levels of rapport to emerge.

....

8. Calls on United Presbyterians to reject in their own lives, and challenge in others, the sin of homophobia, which drives homosexual persons away from Christ and his church.

The Presbytery of Southern New England's Bylaws provide:
STUDY AND ADVOCACY GROUPS
16.01   Ministers, elders, deacons, and members of congregations which are part of the Presbytery may associate together to study and/or be an advocate for issues, causes, or institutions which further the mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) or the Presbytery.
16.02   Such groups may apply to Presbytery through the Presbytery Council for recognition.  If the Presbytery approves of the goals and statement of purpose of the group that group may:
  1. use the mailing lists of the Presbytery at the group's expense.
  2. request time on the docket of Presbytery meetings for reports and programs.  Requests for docket time are to be made to the Stated Clerk and will be scheduled by the Presbytery Council.
  3. distribute literature at meetings of Presbytery.
  4. visit sessions and congregations at their request.
16.03   Recognized groups will not be funded through the budget of Presbytery and will not receive staff support, unless specifically voted by Presbytery.  Any request for such funding must be made through the Presbytery Council.
16.04   Recognized groups shall present a written report to Presbytery at its May/June meeting, annually.  The report will detail the group's activities for the year and will show how that group has fulfilled its stated goals and statement of purpose.
16.05   Recognition of a group shall be for a term of three years, and such recognition may be renewed by the Presbytery through the Presbytery Council.

27 October 2002 -- Presbyterian Promise joined Presbyterian Welcome and several churches in the Presbytery of Hudson River to celebrate Reformation Sunday and honor the many who have sought full inclusion in the Presbyterian Church. Similar services were held in other parts of the country. The reports, liturgy and Hal Porter's sermon are available at Celebrate the Vision.

21 September 2002 -- Presbyterian Promise joined several other religious organizations, non profits, vendors and Fleet Bank at the Connecticut Pride event in Hartford's Bushnell Park. Jack Hartwein-Sanchez brought greetings (with pictures) during the opening rally. Letty Russell participated in the prayer concluding the rally.

Our presence allowed us to introduce a number of people to our sponsoring churches and offered a clear witness -- even to those who only walked by looking -- that there are hospitable Christians. It was a time for listening to moving stories and for making connections with numbers of people involved in the movement.

19 May 2002 -- The Board of Presbyterian Promise issues An Invitation to BREAK THE SILENCE responding to the 'judicial season in our church.

14 April 2002 -- The General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission provides guidance about ordination standards. See the details on our "Cases" page. The standards in the decision that self-acknowledgement be plain, palpable, and obvious and that a category of persons cannot be singled out restores a degree of fairness to Presbyterians seeking office in their church. People are again to be judged/called by those who know them best.

9 February 2002 -- The Presbytery of Southern New England voted 109 for proposed amendment 01-A. There were 72 votes against and no abstentions. If passed, this would restore Presbyterian polity to the standards which existed prior to the beginning of the controversy over human sexuality and ordination.

3 February 2002 -- Presbyterian Promise held its first annual meeting as a corporation. Here are the details, including a reflection on God's Promise of justice and love by the Reverend Letty Russell.

 
News from 2000