Following its March meeting, the Session of First Presbyterian Church of Moscow issued the following statement regarding the General Assembly's decision on same-gender marriage, and the subsequent vote on the issue by Presbyteries across the country:
The General Assembly of Presbyterian Church (USA), our denomination, decided last summer that all decisions on same gender marriage would be made by local pastors and local sessions. It neither forbade such marriages nor required that they be performed. Previous to this decision, the denomination forbade same gender marriage.
In preparation for the General Assembly meeting in June 2016, each Presbytery across the nation has the opportunity to vote whether they agree or disagree with last summer's General Assembly decision. The Presbytery of the Inland Northwest, to which our congregation belongs, voted at their last meeting in February 2015 to reject the General Assembly’s change in the rules and leave the original rule in place. A majority of Presbyteries have voted to approve the amendment to the Book of Order.
Now every Session in the PC(USA) has the responsibility to decide whether to allow same gender marriages in their sanctuary, and each pastor has the responsibility to decide whether he or she will perform same gender marriages. Neither a pastor nor a session can tell the other what to do.
So far, our Session has voted to accept General Assembly's decision last summer, but it has not voted to allow or forbid same gender marriages in our sanctuary. Pastor Fowler has not stated whether he will or will not perform same gender marriages.
The Session or Pastor Fowler could be presented with these questions at any time. Session recognizes that faithful people have different views on this issue and feels a need to take time in discerning a faithful response. Session has decided not to vote on the issue now, especially with Pastor Fowler leaving for his sabbatical. Session will revisit the matter in the fall after Pastor Fowler returns.
Any questions may be referred to Pastor Norman or a member of Session.