We convey to you the request of Rev. Marc Benton for forgiveness in bringing forth the charges and legislation that produced Benton v. Hudson River, et al. We also refer to Rev. Benton’s newly stated support for same gender marriage. In so doing, we acknowledge his courage and commitment in taking responsibility for his role in the harm, pain and suffering produced by his earlier actions.
We also acknowledge South Presbyterian Church’s Session and pastors, Joe Gilmore and Susan De George, for their ongoing commitment to the LGBTQ/Q community when Rev. Benton insisted that they be investigated and charged for doing same-gender commitment services. It is such faithful perseverance by these folks and others that are at the heart of the changes we are witnessing today.
We stand firmly alongside, deeply indebted and thankful to everyone who has ever been hurt, harmed, punished or pushed away because of Benton v. Hudson River, et al or any of the other charges, hearing, rulings and deep anguish caused by such actions. We are here to do whatever we can in healing, reconciliation and moving forward so that such actions and harms never happen again.
We pray that Rev. Benton’s decision and forthrightness will prompt others to step up, acknowledging their roles in the harm caused our community and making amends for their participation in decades of marginalization and exclusion of our Christian sisters and brothers. We encourage and support all who seek assistance in moving forward on this path, and we will never forget the suffering and pain of others whose lives are the foundation for these changes.
The toughest road, we think, is ahead. This journey for healing will only be complete when the church accepts its responsibility, admits the harms it has done, and makes amends for the teachings and prohibitions it has supported and allowed in the discrimination of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning community. With recent changes to the Book of Order and those currently under consideration, we feel the church is also charged with taking an active and corporate role in facilitating these changes. We are ready to support such efforts, as well.
“Redemption appears as the liberty to interpret in trust…
all that happens to us and to which we react as occurring in a final context
of life giving rather than death-dealing.” H. Richard Niebuhr, The Responsible Self
When we can witness to one another and the world our faithfulness to the Gospel and all it requires us to be in love for one another, then perhaps redemption to which we are called will achieve its life-giving purpose.
Cover page from the Hudson River Presbytery September 9, 2014
The Rev. Marc Benton, the pastor who brought the suit Benton v. Hudson River Presbytery that defined PC(USA)’s distinction between marriage and holy unions, has repented of his position and is seeking forgiveness from the members of the Hudson River Presbytery.
At Rev. Benton’s request, the Hudson River Presbytery has prepared this press release and is sharing his statement with the wider church.
Attached, please find a the release and Rev. Benton’s statement.
Rev. Benton’s statement has been shared with members of the Hudson River Presbytery and he will be joining our presbytery at its regular meeting in September.
The decision of Committee 11 to substitute the original overture (passed by the Presbytery of New York City and concurred with by Hudson River, Genesee Valley and Chicago) with a softer version supported by Covenant Network and others is a step forward and the continuation of an important discussion. (See Covenant Network’s statement here.)
However, That All May Freely Serve and others continue to pray for a final overture on the floor of plenary later today that returns more closely to the original overture and bravely acknowledges the harms done to the LGBTQ/Q community over the last four decades. There is a substantial difference between an admission of harms done and regrets for how some might feel harmed, which is one of the vast discrepancies between the original overture and what is on the docket for tonight’s plenary session.
What produced the changes? Primarily, the attempt to balance concerns for others who might be offended or feel “set aside” by a stronger statement – has produced what That All May Freely Serve sees as an uneven and diminished revised overture, much like those that are often written when it comes to queer folk in the church.
Throughout this assembly as with those before, we have witnessed just how frustratingly slow and cautious life can sometimes be – especially when we have the chance to truly change things with just a bit more trust and courage.
By this evening, Thursday, we will know just how much of a step forward the GA222 will choose to take, when Item 11-05 reaches the floor of the General Assembly, sometime around 7:30 PM Pacific Time
So, we ask for your continued prayers, with enormous gratitude to all who have worked so hard in this journey for the church to acknowledge how wrong it has been, apologize and promise to do better in bringing the Love of God to all with the greatest possible witness and voice. It may be that such a message has not been as important to be heard – as it is today, continuing to reel from the horror of Orlando in our community and for those who love us.