Presbyterian Church in America

A Prayer Upon the Adoption of “Marriage Between Two People”

by Rev . Dr. Janet Edwards

Loving God of all, I confess I hardly know what to pray today.

But I’ll take a deep breath, trust in Your guidance, and find out.

Last week my church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), adopted by a majority vote (87) among our 172 regions, this statement on marriage: “Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally between a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives.”

Thank You for bringing us to this day. Thank You.

Ten years ago on this day, I was preparing myself to preside at the wedding of two women, knowing my name would be included in their announcement of the celebration in our local newspaper. As expected, within a few weeks of that printing, I was accused of violating Scripture and the rules of my church when formal charges, jeopardizing my place in the church, were filed against me in my regional church office.

These charges led to three years of church court proceedings (I was acquitted) and to ten years of working alongside others to reform our church so that it sees what we see: the heart of marriage is the love and commitment between the partners.

Today, the words of Matthew 19:26 ring true for me: with You, all things are possible. Hallelujah! What a privilege to be one of the cloud of witnesses rejoicing in this new day! Thank You for this awesome opportunity to participate in a moment of true reformation.

My church is better today than it was yesterday.

We are better at loving, as You do, all your children, better at proclaiming Your Gospel to the world, better at grasping the meaning of Your word in Scripture and in the life of Jesus Christ.

I pray that You give me the strength to continue to walk in Your way, doing Your will. For surely the work is not done.

The statement adopted by my church last week is careful to emphasize that nothing shall compel pastors to do anything contrary to their discernment of Your Holy Spirit or their understanding of Your Word. Reformed tradition gives the pastor the freedom to discern Your will as to whether or not to preside at weddings.

Pastors in my church can turn away lesbian or gay couples just as they can turn away straight couples who ask them to officiate at their wedding. I defend their right to do this even as I cringe at the painful rebuff this will be, perhaps turning the former away from You and from our church family forever.

I will defend those pastors’ right to act according to their understanding of Your will, and I will devote myself to reaching out a hand of invitation to discern Your will together, with them, certain that somehow — perhaps through our friendship — You will open their eyes to see what I see.

It has been a good while since the PCUSA has led our country by our witness to justice, love in action.

We are doing it now. I pray You will give us the grace to continue to do so and may I find my rightful place in the throng.

Through the power of Your holy name, I pray. Amen.

Photo shared via Rev. Dr. Janet Edwards