Sexuality

The 2021 General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada met online from June 6-9, 2021. After years of prayerful study and debate, commissioners to General Assembly approved decisions that will impact the PCC’s ministry to and with LGBTQI2S+ people.

  1.  The Presbyterian Church in Canada agreed to make changes to its theology and practice regarding marriage, permitting people to choose to define marriage either as a covenant relationship between a man and a woman or as a covenant relationship between two adult people. This decision provides Presbyterian ministers with liberty of conscience and the freedom to choose to officiate or not officiate at the marriages of same-sex couples.
  2. The church agreed that LGBTQI2S+ people (whether married or single) can be ordained, and are welcome to serve, as ministers and ruling elders.
  3. All recommendations from the Rainbow Communion  (https://presbyterian.ca/listening)  were adopted. Some highlights include:
  • The Presbyterian Church in Canada affirms that all people whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity are equally beloved by God.
  • Identifying as LGBTQI2S+ and/or being in a same-sex marriage is not grounds for discipline and censure in The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
  • The Presbyterian Church in Canada will offer a public confession to all individuals and congregations harmed by the church through exclusion and marginalization, seeking forgiveness from God and from all those affected. See here.
  • Resources will be created in the coming years to equip an inclusive church and a fund will be established to support psychotherapy/counselling for those who have experienced harm done by homophobia, hypocrisy, transphobia and heterosexism in the denomination.

Background Information

This section of the page is intended to make available, to persons who are part of the Dayspring community of faith and care and others who have found themselves reading this page, the resources (Documents 1, 3, 4, and 5) which have been developed by the Presbyterian Church in Canada (PCC) along with a personal reflection by a Minister-in-association (retired clergy) who was a member of Dayspring’s Session at the time it was written (Document 2).

The PCC documents were created as a result of requests from Presbyteries, Sessions, and individuals from across Canada who were trying to figure out how to relate to persons who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Queer, and/or Intersex/Inquiring (LGBTQI2S+).

You are encouraged to download and study the documents.


Dayspring’s Discernment Process

NOTE: Dayspring Session offered an opportunity on three successive Saturdays in early 2018 for persons who are part of the Dayspring community to have a conversation about the issues raised by these documents. These were not decision-making meetings – rather were “conversations” with an intent to focus on three questions:

  1. Why does it become so difficult to interpret the Word of God?
  2. Why do we want to re-interpret the Word of God?
  3. How are any of your family members or friends or persons connected with Dayspring affected by this conversation?

There was an opportunity after having read and reflected on the documents and/or participated in at least one of the Saturday morning conversations, to provide feedback to the PCC by responding to an online questionnaire. It was drawn to attention that if any change were to be made to the practice of the PCC and of Dayspring Church, the decision about that would be made by the General Assembly. [and that change has now been made – see above]


Background on PCC Governance and Prior Actions

In the PCC, congregations elect persons who are ordained as Elders to serve on Session. Session oversees the life and work of the congregation. Sessions appoint one of their number to serve as a member of Presbytery and Synod – which oversee the work of the congregations located in their geographical region.

The General Assembly oversees the overall work of the congregations of the PCC in Canada and our mission and service partnerships with Christian churches in many parts of the world. It does that work through boards, committees, and staff who report to the General Assembly when it meets, once yearly, in early June. General Assembly comprises 1/6th of the active ministers from each presbytery across the church, together with an equal number of elders selected by the Sessions of the Presbytery in rotation. With 11 ministry positions (one or two not filled at any given time), Edmonton-Lakeland Presbytery sends two Ministers and two Elders to General Assembly each year. Dayspring Session Clerk was one of the Elders who attended the 2017 General Assembly. Dayspring’s minister was a commissioner at General Assembly in 2016 and 2018.

Members of General Assembly do not “represent” anyone in the decision-making of the Assembly. Rather, they are “commissioned” to vote according to their conscience – of course with due regard for the wellbeing of the whole church.

In 1994, the PCC passed a report on Human Sexuality and that report can be downloaded here.

On February 13, 2018 acting on the decision of the General Assembly, Peter Bush, Moderator of the 143rd (2017) General Assembly, published a Letter of Repentance to the LGBTQI2S+ Community. You can find the letter here.

The work of the Rainbow Communion Listening Committee continued through 2020. For information about the Rainbow Communion Listening Committee, click on this link. For other information on the PCC’s conversations about human sexuality, click on this link. The committee’s final report and recommendations were presented to the 2021 General Assembly and were approved. Look here for the Committee’s report.

The 2018 General Assembly also sent a report on Unity and Diversity to Sessions, Presbyteries, and Synods, asking us to study and provide feedback on the document. You can find the document by clicking on this link. Dayspring Session studied the document and forwarded its response (click on this link to see the response) to the General Assembly.