The 2014 Provincial Synod passed Resolution 12: Study and Discernment Regarding Homosexuality which called for a time of study, dialogue and discernment in our Province.
This page is where information, updates, resources and materials will be made available for this process.
An Update: August 2016
Southern Province Synod Resolution 12 called for the province to “provide leadership, resources, and a process for a conversation about homosexuality in the church that includes diverse viewpoints, and opportunities for open and honest discussion, study and discernment. This process of dialogue and discernment should take into account similar efforts made, and decisions that have been or may be reached by our sister provinces within the Unity, as well as any actions of the 2014 Unity Board and 2016 Unity Synod. Fulfilling that mandate of Synod, the Provincial Elders Conference appointed a Steering Committee in the summer of 2014, which has been studying, praying, and working actively ever since.
What is the purpose or “agenda” of the Resolution 12 Steering Committee?
Given the directive of Synod, we have determined that Our agenda is to encourage dialogue and provide new opportunities for the people of the Southern Province to discern more of the leadership of the Holy Spirit in our continued differences concerning homosexuality in the church. We believe through the study of scripture, the discipline of prayer, and the faith sharing of believers the Holy Spirit can provide each of us greater insight and clarity moving each of us to a deeper relationship with our Savior. In our deeper relationship with the Savior unity grows within our Province and our differences become smaller. In this task, we remember the words of Zinzendorf: “the nearer each one comes in knowing the Savior, the more enriched, more glad of heart, and more unwavering grows the communion among his members.”
Activities relating to Synod Resolution 12 since 2014 have included the following. Note that details are provided below.
- Fall 2014: planning; preparation of a resource list
- Winter/Spring 2015: conversations of “like-minded” small groups with some 200 participants
- October 2015: a forum presenting two contrasting views, with 200 persons attending. (The video is online).
- January 2016:a forum presenting guidelines for Moravian interpretation of Scripture, with 350 attending (Video is online).
- Spring 2016: meals and conversations with those of differing perspectives, with 250 attending, many who did not take part in the first round of meetings.
Three upcoming activities relating to Resolution 12 include …
- Meetings with RCC’s. The Resolution 12 Steering Committee would like to meet with RCC’s to talk about what we’ve been doing and what the next steps in our process will be. Each RCC can determine whether we meet only with the congregational representatives or with members of the congregations in a larger gathering. This won’t be a discussion about what we feel about homosexuality, but rather a chance to bring everyone up to date and hear one another’s questions and concerns as we move forward.
- A series of worship and prayer services, to be planned and led by bishops residing in the Southern Province. These will not specifically address homosexuality, but rather be opportunities for worship and prayer together, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit not only in regard to homosexuality in the church but in all things. We seek to rejoice together in the things that bind us together as brothers and sisters in Christ, serving Christ and the world through the Moravian Church; we seek to worship our faithful, loving, and gracious Triune God; and we seek the wisdom, grace, and peace to know and follow God’s will for the Moravian Church in all things. The first of these services will be held on Sunday, September 25, at 3:00 p.m. – location to be announced soon.
- Preparation of a six-part study/conversation guide for congregations and groups. Five of these sessions will include a 25-30-minute video with questions for discussion, and for the sixth session there will be questions for conversations.
- Session 1 is an introduction to the work of the steering committee thus far, the purpose of talking about and studying homosexuality in the church, the risks and benefits of doing so, and some guidelines as to how we might do so gracefully and effectively.
- Session 2 will explore the theological aspects. What does this conversation, this topic, teach us about who God is? How do people discern what the Holy Spirit is teaching us as individuals, especially with regard to Holy Scripture? Can I learn something from a brother or sister who discerns a different leading from the Holy Spirit than I do? How can we as a body learn what the Spirit wants us to hear? And so, what do we learn about our relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ, and about our role in the church?
- Sessions 3 and 4 will consider the biblical aspects. In session 3, you’ll hear Moravians discuss the Old Testament texts most often cited in regard to homosexuality, and in session 4 you’ll hear those same people discuss New Testament texts. You’ll hear diverse interpretations and have a chance to explore your own.
- Session 5 will consider the pastoral aspects. How do we as Moravians maintain close relationships of brotherly and sisterly love and care with others who think so very differently from ourselves on a question that sparks such passionate responses on all sides? How do we offer Christian care, and how do we receive Christian care, from someone who doesn’t see it the same way I do? In other words, how do I continue to love and work with someone I think is wrong?
- And our final session will be an opportunity for you to review what we have learned and where we, as belonging to the Body of Christ in the Moravian Church, go from here as we seek to serve Christ together in the world.
We invite you to continue in prayer, that we all may be open and receptive to the presence and guidance of our Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as we work together as brothers and sisters in God’s Moravian Church, Southern Province.
Information about Previous Events
October 4 Forum: Two Perspectives on Homosexuality and the Church
On October 4, 2015 over 200 people attended this public forum with two speakers representing differing biblical and theological perspectives, Rev. John Rankin and Rev. Susan Parker. Rev. Parker was unable to attend at the last minute because of an unanticipated death in her family, but the Rev. Dr. Riddick Weber stepped in to read her prepared remarks and respond to some questions. Both have given permission to post their papers, and thus both are on this website:
- John Rankin statement, October 4, 2015
- Susan Parker statement, October 4, 2015
- Video of the event: Click Here
January 19 Forum: Moravian Interpretation of Scripture
On January 19, 2016, we hosted an evening presentation by the Rt. Rev. Sam Gray on “Moravian Interpretation of Scripture”. Over 300 people participated. Brother Gray’s remarks were based on the document “Guiding Principles of Biblical Interpretation”, prepared by the Interprovincial Faith and Order Commission and adopted by the Provincial Elders Conferences in 2012. The complete text of this document is available HERE.
As at the October 4 forum, the presentation was surrounded with worship, and there was opportunity for attendees to submit questions to Brother Gray.
Here are resources from this event:
- Presentation handout.
- Video of the entire event: Click Here.
- Video of just the presentation and questions and answers: Click Here.
Resources and Materials:
- Covenant for Christian Conversation
- Five Perspectives Description
- A Short List of Recommended Readings
- A Longer Annotated Bibliography of Resources
- Guiding Principles of Biblical Interpretation