|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
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
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.
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.
The Presbytery of Southern New England's Bylaws provide:
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.
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
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.
use the mailing lists of the Presbytery at the group's
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.
distribute literature at meetings of Presbytery.
visit sessions and congregations at their request.
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
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.