Body, Mind and Soul – Study Guide on Human Sexuality

The complete Study Guide consists of the main document and supplemental handouts. Both the main document and supplemental handouts are combined in one PDF that is available below to download and print. Alternatively, printed copies are also available to order online through the Resource Centre. The cost for a printed publication is $10 for the Study Guide (main document) and $3 for the Booklet (supplemental handouts).

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Study Guide Survey

The Study Guide Survey can be found both online and at the end of the study guide, by which feedback from group discussions will be collected. Individuals are also welcome to send in their comments. The Study Guide Survey is available in three formats: as an online survey to submit directly online, as a fillable PDF survey, or a printed form to write in comments and mail by post. Sessions, etc. are invited to share the results of their discussions with both Church Doctrine and Justice Ministries prior to March 31, 2016. However, if responses can be submitted by February 15, this will give Church Doctrine and Justice Ministries time to consider the comments before writing their reports for the 2016 General Assembly. Their reports are due by March 15.

Responses received after February 15 are still encouraged and will inform any further developments on this matter. Congregations and presbyteries should not feel rushed in their study. At the same time it is important to note that early feedback may be quite helpful to Church Doctrine and Justice Ministries in their work of responding to the overtures.

Option 1: Complete the Survey and Submit Online
Body, Mind and Soul online survey

Option 2: Download the fillable PDF Survey

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Type your responses in the fields provided. Then save the PDF and email it as an attachment to survey [at] presbyterian [dot] ca.

Option 3: Print the Survey
Found on page 117 in the Study Guide, write your responses in the spaces provided and mail the completed survey to:

Human Sexuality Study Guide
c/o The Presbyterian Church in Canada
50 Wynford Drive
Toronto, ON M3C 1J7

Letters

In January 2016, the Rev. Karen Horst, Moderator of the 141st General Assembly, wrote a pastoral letter to the Church about the discussion the denomination is having about human sexuality; this followed a previous pastoral letter sent in November 2015.

In January 2016, Canadian Ministries wrote a letter to presbyteries offering financial support for education events on the topic of sexuality.

Resources

Overtures on Sexual Orientation – What’s happening?

What is an overture?
Every year, overtures are sent to the General Assembly for consideration. Usually, each overture recommends a change to the governance or doctrine of the denomination.

What happened with overtures to the 2015 Assembly regarding sexual orientation?
37 overtures were addressed to the 2015 General Assembly. 24 had to do with issues of sexual orientation and the church and related issues.

No proposal regarding sexual orientation was put before the church at the 2015 Assembly. The Assembly placed the overtures in the hands of the Committee on Church Doctrine and the Life and Mission Agency’s Justice Ministries and made the following decisions.

  1. Church Doctrine and the Justice Ministries are to prepare responses to the overtures referred to them and confer with each other during the year.
  2. The whole church is called to engage in a year of prayerful conversation and discernment along with Bible study on the topics of human sexuality, sexual orientation and other related matters raised in the overtures.
  3. Church Doctrine and Justice Ministries are to prepare a joint study guide on sexual orientation. (This is completed. The guide, Body, Mind and Soul, is available at presbyterian.ca and is designed to help facilitate discussion.)
  4. Sessions, along with others, are invited to share the results of their discussions with both Church Doctrine and Justice Ministries prior to March 31, 2016.

Why then are responses invited by February 15?
This is a matter of timing. At the November Assembly Council meeting, it was agreed an invitation should be extended to the church to respond to Church Doctrine and Justice Ministries by February 15. This gives Church Doctrine and Justice Ministries time to consider the comments before writing their reports to the 2016 General Assembly. Their reports are due by March 15.

Responses received after February 15 are still encouraged and will inform any further developments on this matter. Congregations and presbyteries should not feel rushed in their study. At the same time it is important to note that early feedback may be quite helpful to Church Doctrine and Justice Ministries in their work of responding to the overtures.

Where are responses sent?
All responses are sent to the General Assembly Office from which they are forwarded to the appropriate bodies.

What happens next?
If the 2016 Assembly follows the usual steps, a proposed response to the overtures will be put before the General Assembly by Church Doctrine and Justice Ministries. The Assembly may send the proposal to the church for study and further response. This would be an opportunity for voices across the church to be heard on a specific proposal. At the 2017 Assembly, the proposal, possibly amended because of the feedback, could be considered again and remitted to presbyteries for their approval or disapproval. The 2018 Assembly would tally these replies and make a decision that would become the law/doctrine of the church.

Alternatively, it is possible the 2016 Assembly will decide the responses received by February 15 provide sufficient feedback to allow a firm proposal to be sent to presbyteries without further study. In this case, the proposal would be remitted to presbyteries for their approval or disapproval, without further discussion. The 2017 Assembly would tally these replies and make a decision that would become the law/doctrine of the church.

Meanwhile, the church is encouraged to continue to pray, learn, think, talk and listen – trusting the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit to guide us.

Image of arrow pointing downIs Body, Mind and Soul an official report of The Presbyterian Church in Canada?
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Interim Report of the Special Committee on Sexual Orientation, 2000
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Statement on Human Sexuality – A Study 1998
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Report of the Special Committee on Sexual Orientation 2003
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Listening Understanding Human Sexuality 2003
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Human Sexuality in Social Action Handbook
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Homosexuality in Social Action Handbook
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Report on Human Sexuality, Committee on Church Doctrine, 1994
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by the Committee on Church Doctrine and Life and Mission Agency

This joint recommended reading list is commended to the attention of commissioners to the 2015 General Assembly. (Click here for the proposal for a process for dealing with overtures regarding human sexuality.)

Reports from The Presbyterian Church in Canada

Report on Human Sexuality, Committee on Church Doctrine, A&P 1994, p. 251–74.
Interim Report of the Special Committee on Sexual Orientation, A&P 2000, p. 482–92.
Report of the Special Committee on Sexual Orientation, A&P 2003, p. 526–47.
Confessing the Faith Today

Articles

Campolo, Peggy, and Tony Campolo. “Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?” Institute for Welcoming Resources. From February 29, 1996. welcomingresources.org/campolo. This is the transcript of a discussion between Tony and Peggy Campolo (husband and wife).

Cavey, Bruxy. “Are We ‘Gay Friendly’?” The Meeting House, Teaching Resources. 2005; updated 2013. themeetinghouse.com/resources/tmh/teaching_resources/Gay_Friendly_Statement.pdf).

Gushee, David P. Reconciling Evangelical Christianity with Our Sexual Minorities: Reframing the Biblical Discussion. This paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Christian Ethics, Chicago, January, 2015, 18 pages. The article is an abbreviated version of Gushee’s book, Changing Our Mind, and is found at ChangingOurMind.org. David Gushee is the Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life, Mercer University, in Atlanta, Georgia. In this paper, Gushee lays out the biblical, and ethical reasons he has changed his mind and why now supports full inclusion of men and women who are LGBT.

Reconciling Evangelical Christianity with Our Sexual Minorities


Books

Grenz, Stanley J. Welcoming but Not Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1998. Grenz writes to examine the question of whether contemporary culture has provided such important new insights into homosexuality that the church’s historic understanding of the scripture must be revised. He concludes it has not. Overall, he advocates a church which welcomes all people without affirming all behaviours.

Rogers, Jack. Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church. 2nd ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2009. This particular resource is important because it is specifically Presbyterian and represents an ethos close to The Presbyterian Church in Canada. It was also a key resource that led the Presbyterian Church (USA) to decide to move from an understanding similar to our own to its current position in which sexual orientation no longer limits service in the denomination.

VanderWal-Gritter, Wendy. Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2014. VanderWal-Gritter is the director of New Direction ministries in Canada. This organization was part of the Exodus network, a prominent evangelical ex-gay movement in the USA. VanderWal-Gritter tells the story of a radical change in the approach of her ministry as she encountered LGBTQ people as human beings and observed harm done to them through Christian initiatives. The New Direction website lists numerous resources.

Matthew Vinces, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships (Convergent Books, 2014).

Wesley Hill, Washing and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality (Zondervan, 2010).

A more extensive bibliography for commissioners to General Assembly is found in the Book of Reports beginning on page 7.1.15.

Other Churches’ Documents

Below are some statements and documents from our partners and some of our sister churches on these subjects (listed in no particular order).

The Presbyterian Church (USA)
Homosexuality, 2012
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The Church and Homosexuality, 1978
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The Christian Reformed Church in North America
Homosexuality Position Statement, 2013
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Pastoral Care for Homosexual Members Report, 2002
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The Anglican Church of Canada
Discernment on Sexuality, General Synod, 2010
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Human Sexuality: A statement by the Anglican Bishops of Canada, 1997
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Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
ELCIC Social Statement on Human Sexuality, 2011
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The Bishops’ Statement on Homosexuality, 1989
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The United Church of Canada
GLBTT National Consultations, 2012
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Membership, Ministry and Human Sexuality Policy, 1988
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Mennonite Church Canada
A Report on Our Understanding of the Church’s Position Regarding Same-Sex Issues, 2003
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Resolution on the Issue of Homosexuality, 1998
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Resolution on Human Sexuality, 1986
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World Council of Churches
Churches’ Response to Human Sexuality, 2006
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Church of Scotland
Theological Commission on Same-Sex Relationships and the Ministry, 2013
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The Church of Ireland
Synod Motion Human Sexuality in the Context of Christian Belief, 2012
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Human Sexuality: A Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of the Church of Ireland, 2003
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In 2015 the General Assembly adopted the following motion:

Recommendation No. 5: That the Committee on Church Doctrine and the Life and Mission Agency (Justice Ministries) prepare a joint study guide on the topics of human sexuality, sexual orientation and other related matters raised in the overtures to be posted on the church’s website by the end of October, 2015 and that congregations, sessions, presbyteries and synods be invited to share the result of their conversation with both the Committee on Church Doctrine and Life and Mission Agency (Justice Ministries) prior to March 31, 2016.

To accomplish the General Assembly’s resolution, a Design Team was established with members representing the Committee on Church Doctrine and the Life and Mission Agency (Justice Ministries) to serve as an editorial body for the writer of the study guide, Body, Mind and Soul – Study Guide on Human Sexuality. The terms of the Design Team are found below.

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The Study Guide is not a doctrinal statement. Its purpose is to promote and facilitate informed conversation about the topic of human sexuality and sexual orientation in The Presbyterian Church in Canada. In addition, the Study Guide is intended to help people understand what the PCC currently says about the topic, drawn from Acts and Proceedings and approved documents such as The Social Action Handbook. Thirdly, the Study Guide is designed to invite people and groups through the PCC into prayerful consideration of the matters before us regarding sexuality and sexual orientation.

Body Mind Soul three logos

These three logos are available to use for your website, social media and print materials that help you promote your opportunities for dialogue and conversation. Contact Communications if you require the designs in larger size.

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Your education initiatives will encourage people and courts to study, reflect on and discuss issues related to sexual orientation and the church. They may be quite varied, as each presbytery has different needs and will have to determine what is most appropriate and helpful in its context. Some presbyteries may elect to host one or a series of gatherings or workshops; others may hold events to include resource people such as speakers or facilitators.

For all your events, direct participants to the church’s website and introduce them to its resources, in particular Body, Mind and Soul – Study Guide on Human Sexuality and the historical documents and resources it refers to on this web page.

Image of arrow pointing downCovenantal pledges for discussion about issues of sexuality
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Image of arrow pointing downIdeas for how to use Body, Mind and Soul
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Image of arrow pointing downListening Circles Group Guidelines
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Image of arrow pointing downOvertures re sexual orientation – prayers (from 2015 ga)
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Presbyterians Are Talking About… Sexuality


Image of arrow pointing downThe Necessity and Problem of Language
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Image of arrow pointing downTracing Different Pathways
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Click here to visit the Body, Mind, and Soul web page