Westminster Church is a part of a national denomination called The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
For the past several years there has been an ongoing conversation about human sexuality and same-sex marriage. Currently, the teaching of The Presbyterian Church in Canada is that Christian marriage is between one male and one female, and that the proper place for the expression of sexual intimacy is within the bond of male-female marriage.
Several overtures have been presented to the General Assembly of the denomination (the highest decision-making body) requesting a change in that teaching, and a change in how the denomination views sexuality in general. (An “overture” is a formal proposal requesting a change in doctrine or policy by a group or groups within the church.) At the same time, overtures have been presented to the General Assembly requesting that the denomination retain it’s current teaching.
In 2016 there was a presbytery workshop in Elmvale about these challenging issues. And at Westminster in February 2017, there were two “fireside chats” with the congregation. At these events, the pastor outlined the issues, explained how a national denomination makes doctrinal decisions, and shared his own views about the issues.
As a part of the denomination’s ongoing discernment about these challenging conversations and decisions, the Church Doctrine Committee has created an input mechanism for people to share their views. It is an online survey. The survey references three in-depth three study documents, also created by the Church Doctrine Committee, for those in the denomination to study. Here they are:
Document 1: Where from here? An exploration of possible ways forward for The Presbyterian Church in Canada on questions of human sexuality.
This 3-page document provides some background and also three options for how the denomination might move forward on these issues.
Document 2: The Historic Argument Concerning Same-Sex Marriage.
This 21-page document argues that the church should retain its current teaching on human sexuality and marriage.
Document 3: What the Bible Teaches on Covenanted Monogamous Same-Sex Relationships.
This 26-page document argues that the church should change it’s current teaching on human sexuality and marriage.
All three documents can be downloaded as one pdf file here: Sexuality-Overtures_Church-Doctrine-Reports. Note that Document 1 starts on page 1, Document 2 starts on page 4, and Document 3 starts on page 26.
The Church Doctrine Committee Online Survey can be accessed by clicking here. Please note that the Church Doctrine Committee has requested responses by January 31, 2018.
If you don’t have a computer the study documents are in a binder in the church library called “Human Sexuality – Doctrine Survey.” In that binder you can also get a paper copy of the survey to be filled out and sent in to the national office. The address for submissions is: Committee on Church Doctrine, c/o General Assembly Office, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, 50 Wynford Drive, Toronto, ON, M3C 1J7.