The Presbyterian Church in Canada is studying the matter of sexuality in the church as a result of overtures submitted for consideration about the nature of the inclusion of members of the LGBTQI community in the church.
As part of a prayerful discernment process and discussion about sexuality, the General Assembly stated that as a matter of urgency, the Life and Mission Agency will provide a means for those affected by these decisions of the Assembly regarding the remits under the Barrier Act to express their concerns, views and pain in a safe environment, and that these concerns be reported back to the 2020 General Assembly before the report on remits is received and its recommendations considered.
Expressing views through this form is only one of a number of different ways people may express their concerns, views and pain. Additional means of gathering input (for example, in-person visits with presbyteries) are in the planning stages.
Material submitted to the Life and Mission Agency is kept in confidence. However, some material may be quoted anonymously in reports as examples of sentiments we heard from the church on this matter.
To ask questions, speak in person about your concerns or to arrange an in-person discussion, please contact:
The Rev. Ian Ross-McDonald
General Secretary of the Life and Mission Agency
50 Wynford Drive, Toronto, ON M3C 1J7
imcdonald [at] presbyterian [dot] ca
1-800-619-7301 or 416-441-1111 ext. 289
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 online order form, sending an email or calling 1-800-619-7301 ext. 331. The cost for a printed publication is $11.50 for the Study Guide (main document) and $3.45 for the Booklet (supplemental handouts).
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.
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.
Join the Conversation
The Life and Mission Agency has produced a report to support the church as it studies and responds to sexuality overtures.
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
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.
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 (newdirection.ca) 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).
Special Committee re: LGBTQI Listening (also known as Rainbow Communion)
In 2017, the General Assembly formed a special committee to create a safe and respectful environment in which confidentiality is assured and to encourage people to share their stories of harm done due to homophobia, transphobia, hypocrisy and/or heterosexism to them within and by the church and to share their stories of God’s grace experienced by them and Christian ministry. For more information, visit the Listening Committee web page.
The Rev. Peter Bush, Moderator of the General Assembly in 2017, has written a pastoral letter to the church about the sexuality discussion the courts of the church are having.
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.
A Prayer as the Church Discerns the Mind of Christ on the Matter of Sexuality
In the law and your prophets, O God,
you have revealed your will and desire for justice.
And in the life and ministry of Christ, we see
your love and grace incarnate.
Open our hearts and minds
by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit
as we pray as your church
“to be guided into truth knowing that such truth may disturb and judge us”1
but always trusting that in
your truth we may find freedom and in
your will find peace;
“for with you is the fountain of life and in your light we see light”2
through Christ our Lord,