Atlantic Regional Denominational Conversations took place on Saturday September 21st, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., in Moncton, New Brunswick, hosted by Bethel Presbyterian Riverview and St. Andrew’s Moncton. Approximately 60 people worshipped together, reviewed the Remits and the Barrier Act, and began examining possible ways forward. Consensus was achieved in the following statements, some of which are echoes of other gatherings with which this gathering resonated.
Statements of Consensus:
- As part of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Church in the Reformed tradition, we celebrate our submission to the authority of Scripture and our adherence to a traditional interpretation of the Word of God regarding the definition of marriage and ordination practices of the PCC.
- As part of the Reformed tradition, residing under the authority of the Word of God, we recognize there is no Biblical justification for moving away from the traditional view that marriage is between one man and one woman, as the Church Doctrine Committee Report to General Assembly in 2018 indicated. Therefore, we would not encourage Presbyters and Commissioners to support 2019 GA Remits 1 or 2 (B or C), and will invite individuals and congregations to express this view. Should the Remits fail at either the Presbytery level or General Assembly 2020, that the 2018 the Majority Report of the Committee on Church Doctrine would be reintroduced for consideration either through an overture or from the floor of GA.
- The Remits appear to present ‘room’ for divergent theological views, but still require acknowledgement that same sex marriage is affirmed through a faithful reading of scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. A faithful reading of Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit does not allow for such an acknowledgement. Therefore, we will encourage others to join in re-affirming the Pre-Amble and Ordination vows of both Clergy and Elders, and congregation’s confessing together the Apostle’s Creed on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2020. We understand these to be non-negotiable basis of our unity.
- The assurance of ‘freedom of conscience’ in the matters introduced in the Remits are illusionary. Being permitted not to participate in ordinations and marriages is tokenism because we function collegially and will be expected to accept divergent views as living faithful Holy Spirit led lives, in those whose ordination we could not support as valid.
- Our multiple voices around the unacceptability of the Remits must be clearly and confidently expressed while attentively lovingly and graciously heard.
- Should we be forced to re-consider our future within the PCC, we seek voice in establishing the terms of Gracious Dismissal, and if necessary will collaborate with others in seeking legal counsel.
- Our collective traditional voice is stronger when heard together rowing in the same direction.
- Should Remits pass or fail the Barrier Act, we need to prayerfully discern how God may be leading us in the next steps. Should the Remits fail to pass GA, we would be on track for prolonged protracted conflict. Should the Remits pass GA, we are on track for the eventual elimination of an orthodox voice within the PCC.