We are a council, a collaboration, and a conscience shared by Christian denominations of many types. We welcome your involvement.
We covenant to care for one another, safeguard the presence of a vital Christian faith community in each place, provide hospitality to all, proclaim the Gospel boldly in each place, and declare God’s just will among the powers and principalities.
Our mission goals focus on social justice, institutional pastoral care, and ecumenical cooperation in education, worship, and action.
June 26, 2015
As Christians, we are called to honor and cherish both the civil rights and the committed relationships of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters. We give thanks for the Supreme Court's decision making marriage equality the law of the land.
Furthermore, we condemn dishonest rhetoric that shamefully twists the good news of Jesus Christ into a message of hatred and intolerance.
At the June 18th meeting of our Executive Committee, the following statement in support of marriage equality was adopted. Please join us as we continue to pray for, and work for, justice for all.
The Rev. Brooke Newell, Director of Social Witness
New York State Council of Churches
Statement In Support of Marriage Equality
In 2012, marriage equality became law in New York State. Some pastors in New York have paid a price for officiating at same gender marriages over and against the official stances of their denominations.
It is time for the New York State Council of Churches to speak with a common voice in support of Marriage Equality in our state.
The Christian Church is mandated to stand for justice in our common civic life. Religious leaders before us have spoken to end slavery, and to ensure equal rights to all persons regardless of gender, nationality, religion, and race. We now declare that our faith calls us to affirm civil marriage equality for same-sex couples.
Our religious traditions and sacred texts teach us that wherever love is present, God is also present. One of God's gifts is our capacity to love one another. The ability of two people to enter into relationships and form families of love and care is an expression of this gift. It is holy and good. We therefore support the right of same-sex couples to enter into such relationships on an equal basis with heterosexual couples. This is a right that all people have as members of the human family. The state should not deny individuals their fundamental civil right to marry whom they love.
We support civil marriage equality as an issue of religious freedom, for a denial of civil recognition dishonors the religious convictions of those communities and clergy who do officiate at, and bless, same-sex marriages. The state should not favor the convictions of one religious group over another to deny individuals their fundamental right to marry and have those marriages recognized by civil law. By the same token, we uphold the right to freedom of conscience in this matter: the state may not require religious groups to officiate at, or bless, same-sex marriages.
For further study, the NY State Council of Churches recommends:
• Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality by Jack Rogers (2006, revised in 2009)
• The Bible’s “Yes” to Same Sex Marriage by Mark Achtemeier (2014)
• What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality by Daniel A. Helminiak (2000)
• Witness without Parallel: Eight Biblical Texts that Make Us Presbyterian by Earl Johnson (2003)
Most of our member denominations have longstanding statements on marriage equality.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America http://www.elca.org/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Human-Sexuality
The General Synod of the United Church of Christ http://www.ucc.org/lgbt_issues_marriageequality_index#Marriage_Equality_and_the_UCC
The United Methodist Church http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/the-nurturing-community#marriage
American Baptist Churches USA http://www.abc-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/homosexuality.pdf
The Reformed Church in America http://wrfnet.org/articles/2013/06/reformed-church-america-approves-position-homosexual-relationships#.VRsjcUZj-i4
The Presbyterian Church USA http://www.religionnews.com/2014/06/19/presbyterians-vote-allow-gay-marriage/
The New York State Council of Churches is pleased to offer a new series of 4 videos to facilitate congregational discussion and discernment on the issue of gun violence. In each of the 4 videos, Our Director of Social Witness, the Rev. Brooke Newell, leads reflections on various aspects of gun violence through the lenses of Scripture, Christian Tradition, statistics surrounding gun ownership and gun violence, and an Albany area "person in the pew" who tells her story.
The 4-video series and other resources are free for congregational and personal use.