Minneapolis Declaration of Conscience

  • by: Brian Merritt
  • recipient: Presbyterian Ministers, Elders and Deacons

1.    We believe that the restrictive definition of marriage as "between a man and a woman" is binding of our pastoral discernment and unduly restricts our conscience.  Such a definition does not find congruity with the established legal definitions in five U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and numerous countries in the world.


2.    We recognize an individual clergy's pastoral discernment in making decisions relating to same gender marriages according to individual congregational needs, regional law, individual conscience and Biblical conviction.


3.     We recognize that restrictive language hinders our pastoral care duties to members in full standing and shackles our liberty in Christ. Such language makes us choose between the new openness we are called to (G-3.0401) and enduring unscrupulous charges made in the courts of the church.  We are either a church for all people or we are not (G-4.0401-3).  


4.     We believe that binding our liberty in Christ in matters to which we believe the Spirit of God is directing us runs counter to our confessional and reformed heritage, which calls us to encourage covenant faithfulness and love rather than thwart it. 


5.     We believe that Christ's teaching, the Pauline witness, and our confessions guide us to reject binding our consciences against actions we believe stem from the Spirit of God.


6.     We call on people of good faith to cease from using our church courts to promote schism for their definition of purity.   


7. We believe that Sessions should be able to approve the use of their church buildings for all marriages, especially since they will know the people requesting services of marriage better than those in higher governing bodies.  A national policy ties the hands of the local Session, and diminishes their church's ministry of pastoral care. 


8.     Out of scruples we cannot and will not abide by overly restrictive ecclesial/liturgical definitions of marriage continued by the 219th General Assembly. 

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