For the past several decades, The Presbyterian Church in Canada has studied and discussed questions related to sexuality, particularly questions related to same-sex marriage and the roles of LGBTQI people in ministry. Consistently, the church has recognized that we are called to be a welcoming, nurturing, loving and supportive community, a true church family, and to repent of homophobia and hypocrisy.
In 2017, the church formed a special committee (also known as the Rainbow Communion) to listen to the stories of LGBTQI people and others related to harms 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. The Rev. Peter Bush, Moderator of the 2017 General Assembly, wrote a letter of repentance to LGBTQI people and reminding the church of God’s call to be a community where we welcome one another as Christ has welcomed us.
The pages below provide links to decisions and statements the church has made regarding sexuality, resources for study and discussion, and pastoral care resources. If you have any questions or would like to request further resources, contact Carragh Erhardt, Program Coordinator – Sexuality and Inclusion.
In July 2020, the Assembly Council allocated funds to support a staff position to help the church fulfill decisions and statements it has made about sexuality, orientation and gender. The Life and Mission Agency announced that Carragh Erhardt has been hired to assist with this work as the Program Coordinator, Sexuality and Inclusion. This page will be updated in the coming weeks.
Contact Carragh by email or 1-800-619-7301 ext. 278.
Click here for resources that provide appropriate support to the church in developing models of pastoral care and mutual support and care for those who have been harmed by homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism and hypocrisy.
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).
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
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 Vines, 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).
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, print copies are available to order online through the PCC Resource Ordering Portal or the online order form. You can also send an email or call 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.
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.