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2548Families Paper: PCUSA General Assembly Backgrounder

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  • umcornet
    Jun 1, 2004
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      Tuesday, June 1, 2004
      Families Paper: General Assembly Backgrounder
      by Evan Silverstein
      PCUSA News Service

      The reappearance of a proposed policy paper on the changing nature of
      families in the United States is expected to be a major item before
      this year's 216th General Assembly in Richmond, VA.

      "Transforming Families," developed by the Advisory Committee on
      Social Witness Policy (ACSWP), documents the changing structure of
      family life, which today includes many single-parent households,
      homes in which children are raised by grandparents or other non-
      parent relatives, and domestic partnerships other than marriage. It
      speaks of ways in which various kinds of families can raise children
      faithfully and responsibly.

      Critics of the original 43-page report claimed its authors had
      refused to make moral distinctions and placed families headed by same-
      sex couples on the same plane as those headed by married heterosexual
      couples - violating scripture and Christian morality. They prepared a
      one-page substitute that defined marriage, as PC(USA) doctrine does,
      as a union of "one man and one woman."

      Neither version passed muster at last year's Assembly in Denver, CO,
      which bounced both back to ACSWP with instructions to rewrite it,
      adding stronger affirmations of the theological value of the
      traditional two-parent family. Parts of the document were revised as
      many as 19 times, and a new theological section had been added.

      The Rev. Peter Sulyok, the ACSWP coordinator, said he believes the
      retooled paper will win broad support at the Assembly and in the PC

      He said the revised paper is "broad enough to include all the
      families in the church, and wide enough to create the space for the
      church to reach out, both within its own walls and beyond its walls,
      into society, to seek opportunities for ministries with families."

      The original paper was produced in response to a request from the
      1997 Assembly that ACSWP examine "changing families and social
      structures that support families," focusing on their impact on
      children, and suggest ways "to strengthen the church's ministry to
      contemporary families."

      "Transforming Families" will be considered by Assembly Committee 10 -
      National Issues.