Comprehensive Digest of Social Witness at the 220th PC(USA) General Assembly


Ordination Standards & LGBT Equality

Items 07-02, 07-03, 07-06, and 07-16: Amending Book of Order G-2.0104b Ordination Standards

Disapproved by the Assembly. These items overtured the Assembly to reinstate, as a standard for ordination, the requirement that candidates either live in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or live in chastity and singleness, excluding individuals in same-sex relationships from ordination. These items would have effectively reversed the action of the 219th General Assembly (2010), which was ratified by ninety-seven presbyteries, ten more than needed.

The ACSWP Advice and Counsel “recognized that ordination issues are justice issues. The history of the church’s struggle to embrace equality in ordination for women and racial ethnic men is a clear example of this connection.”

Item 07-08: Adding G-2.0104c to the Book of Order on Ordination Standards

Disapproved by the Assembly. This item asked that ordained councils be permitted to establish interpretations of Scripture and the church’s confessions and to require that judgments about a candidate’s adherence to ordination standards be based upon such interpretations. Presbyteries, therefore, could have re-inserted in their manuals language that had been removed which prevented the ordination of individuals in same-sex relationships.

Items 07-10 and 07-11: Refusal of Ordination to Lesbian and Gay Individuals

Disapproved by the Assembly. These items request permission for councils to refuse ordination to “practicing homosexual persons” without incurring disciplinary action, as an expression of a council’s freedom of conscience.

The ACSWP Advice and Counsel explained that, “in the Reformed Tradition, the concept of ‘freedom of conscience’ has been understood as a right of individuals,” not administrative bodies. In either case, that right is not “absolute… Without higher review, there would be no check on the abuse of power, no remedy of appeal for the misuse of power.”


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