The Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. (PCUSA)’s 222nd General Assembly is set to kick off this weekend on June 18, and will run until June 25 in Portland Oregon, where commissioners from over 170 presbyteries will consider various recommendations and reports.
One of the overtures recommends the General Assembly to reverse the changes made last year to amendment ‘W-4.9000’ in the denomination’s bylaws, which amended the PCUSA's definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. Submitted by the Kiskiminetas presbytery and concurred by the presbyteries of Atlantic Korean, Eastern Korean, Midwest Hanmi, Mississippi, and San Fernando, the overture urges the denomination to once again define marriage as between one man and one woman, and states that “when the PC (USA) passed amendment W-4.9000 there was no biblical background given for its consideration and then its passing. The rationale offered for the most recent revision to the definition of marriage referred mainly to society’s views and civil legality, not what is in Scripture and the Confessions.”
It further adds that “Christ commands us to love everyone and to welcome all into a community of faith,” but “while he offers love and forgiveness, he does not condone that which God calls sin.”
Another overture, submitted by the presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse, calls on the PCUSA to express solidarity with the Korean survivors of an incident that occurred in 1950 in which U.S. troops killed some 150 Korean civilians in No Gun Ri, South Korea.
Among the recommendations listed in this overture includes acknowledging and offering apology to the victims; arranging a meeting between U.S. soldiers who were present during the incident and the remaining Korean survivors for forgiveness and reconciliation; translating a Korean novel based on the incident into English; and establishing a memorial church in or near the No Gun Ri Peace Park in South Korea.
“This overture offers an opportunity for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to unveil the violence that the United States has often inflicted on the population of our ostensible allies, to open the way for changes in the conduct of U.S. military operations in the future, and to undertake steps toward reconciliation between American veterans and civilian casualties in South Korea,” the overture states.
Other overtures that the General Assembly will be reviewing include those regarding logistical matters in the denomination, such as ones “on amending … to require a two-thirds majority vote to amend the constitution,” or “on adding a new standing rule … identifying the right of presbyteries and synods to submit overtures changing the standing rules.”
Overtures involving social issues, such as climate change, fossil fuels, responding to the refugee crisis, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, will also be considered.
The PCUSA is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S., with a little less than 10,000 member churches and some 1.6 million congregants, according to the PCUSA’s count at the end of 2014.