March 2015 Update
Statement on our Denomination’s (PC(USA)) Redefinition of Marriage:
In June 2014, our denomination’s (Presbyterian Church (U. S. A.) General Assembly voted to allow, but not require, churches and pastors to perform same sex marriage. This vote was reaffirmed this week by the majority of presbyteries (local regional bodies).
Where does this put UPC?
Right where we have continued to be—as a congregation that graciously welcomes all people to fellowship in Jesus Christ. Within that loving community, the leadership of UPC continues to affirm a Biblical traditional view of marriage. The PC(USA) action redefined marriage as “a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.” It also protects the right of a congregation to hold their own position on this matter and not be compelled to violate their conscience.
The Session (board) of UPC continues to affirm that fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman is the Biblical standard for our church and for our congregational practice. As always, we warmly welcome those with a variety of views on the subject believing that a united confession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is the ground for our unity.
+ March 2015 Statement from UPC's Denominational Concerns Committee
+ Gracious Imperatives
+ Union in Christ: A Declaration for the Church
+ Common Ground: A Metaphor Reflection (from March 29, 2015 sermon)
Watch Pastor George's message "On Marriage, Our Beliefs, and Jesus"
from March 29, 2015
June 2014 Update
The recent actions of the General Assembly in Detroit specifically recognize and affirm the integrity of a Pastor and Session (Congregation) be guided by the Scripture and the Holy Spirit on this issue and not be compelled to a different view. Our ministry at UPC is guided by the Scriptures, the Confession and the Essential Tenets of The Fellowship Community. These will continue to be our guide for faith and practice.
October 2011 UpdateThe Session of UPC continues to monitor developments in our larger denominational context, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We are confident—irrespective of its weaknesses or strengths—that our congregation is unencumbered and free to participate joyfully and faithfully in the ministry of Jesus Christ here in Seattle and around the world.
We make our own decisions regarding the ordination of our pastors, elders, and deacons, and the stewardship of our tithes and offerings. And we will continue to do so in grateful obedience to Jesus Christ according to the teachings of Scripture and the power of his Spirit.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) affirms both that “Scripture teaches us of Christ’s will for the Church, which is to be obeyed” and that “God alone is Lord of the conscience.” In this we agree, and remind ourselves that (unlike other historic denominations) the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) claims no binding authority but Scripture.
This August a group of UPC pastors and elders participated in a conversation in Minneapolis through the Fellowship of Presbyterians. Nearly 2,000 leaders from 830 congregations gathered to explore a range of ways that Presbyterian congregations might connect within the PC(USA) whenever possible and differentiate when necessary. Our team was grateful to join others with a desire to affirm a faithful theological core and to refocus energy and resource away from denominational debates and towards the mission of Jesus Christ in the world.
Our session is appointing a committee (to be resourced by our Executive Pastor, Tim Snow) that will help session participate in this ongoing conversation locally and nationally.
Throughout its history the church of Jesus Christ has been no stranger to disagreement or controversy, and its institutional forms have come and gone and ever been renewed by Jesus Christ, its head. As we reflect on our denominational ties, our hope for other churches is the same as our hope for our own: that Jesus Christ will be our center; that we will grow through humble faith in his word; that grace will draw a people of diverse opinion and experiences into a shared journey; and that love will keep us focused on God’s call to share hope in Jesus Christ with our neighbors.
June 2011 Update
What has changed…
A paragraph has been removed from our Book of Order that had explicitly called all ordination candidates “to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness.” This provided a clear standard of sexual ethics that could be applied nationally by every ordaining body, whether a church (in the case of its elders and deacons) or a presbytery (in the case of its ministers). A new paragraph will now replace this one, which obligates these bodies to examine their candidates with the guidance of Scripture and the historic confessions of the church and which—in the absence of the former, national standard—essentially delegates any judgment on sexual ethics to the local ordaining body.
The net effect of this change is that some PC(USA) churches and presbyteries will soon vote to ordain those who do not believe that sexual expression is a covenant sign given and reserved by God for husband and wife.
What has not changed…
At University Presbyterian Church, we will continue to hold faithfully to the teachings of Scripture, its witness to our living Savior Jesus Christ, its invitation to turn from that which is not life and to walk in that which is, and its teachings on marriage and chastity.
We will continue to ordain and install only those who confess themselves to be sinners in need of grace, who joyfully acknowledge the gift of this grace in Jesus Christ, and who faithfully hold it forth to all in his name.
We will continue to work hard at being a community who joyfully invites and welcomes all without distinction.
We will continue to celebrate the good news of Jesus Christ. Our mission is not defined by the social or political agendas of our day but by the continuing work of Jesus Christ as he is healing us, our city, and all of creation. This is our focus, and we grieve anything that distracts our denomination from pursuing the same.
We will continue to seek partnership with like-minded churches. This February, Tim Snow (Executive Pastor) and I signed a letter expressing our support for the Fellowship PC(USA), a group of Presbyterian pastors and leaders who are working to initiate Christ-honoring change in our denomination and to renew our expression as the body of Christ. We, along with some of our elders, will continue to engage in this important, national conversation.
We are confident that we serve a God who is bigger than this very human argument. Please join us in prayer.
If you have questions or concerns about our denomination or what we believe, we want to hear from you. Email the Church Talk team and someone will respond within 24 hours.