Presbyterian Church USA Proposes Change to All for Gay Clergy
Read it and weep. Not surprising, but nonetheless distressing. Another of the ELCA’s ecumenical “partners” has embraced actively homosexual persons as clergy. Not it up to local prebyteries to decided if they will approve this change in the denomination’s constitution. [The photo to the left: The Reverend Dr. Jane Spahr, center, a Presbyterian minister, performs
a same-sex marriage for Sherrie Holmes, left, and Sara Taylor, right,
at the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael, Calif., Friday, June 20, 2008.]
Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
30 June 2008
US church votes for change that could permit gay ordination
By Chris Herlinger
New York, 30 June (ENI)–The general assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved a proposed change in the denomination’s constitution that would, in effect, permit the ordination of openly gay clergy.
However, a majority of the 2.2-million-member denomination’s local districts, known as presbyteries, must now approve the change, and those against gay ordination are likely to heavily oppose it. Similar efforts to change Presbyterian ordination rules in 1997 and 2001 failed.
The latest move came in a 27 June decision, by 380 votes to 325, at the assembly, meeting in San Jose, California. Though the divisions within the PCUSA have not become as contentious as those of the US Episcopal (Anglican) Church, they have nonetheless been heated, and during the 21-28 June assembly, those opposed to the action said it would harm the church.
“Don’t send a shock wave through the church,” said the Rev. William Stepp of the Tropical Florida Presbytery, as quoted by the Presbyterian News Service. Stepp added that the denomination, “needs a continuing strong witness to biblical standards for sexuality”.
Still, the Rev. Susan Fisher of the Pacific Presbytery, also quoted by PNS, said US Presbyterians had debated the ordination issue for three decades and it was time, “to give the church voice, and vote to change language”.
Under current rules, those ordained as ministers are expected to live in, “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness”.
The new language gives more leeway to ordination by striking out the language about sexual fidelity. Now, the wording is that those, “called to ordained service in the church, by their assent to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation … pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church”. It also states that the local governing body, “charged with examination for ordination and/or installation … establishes the candidate’s sincere efforts to adhere to these standards”.
Although the assembly voted not to change the denomination’s definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, it overwhelmingly approved a recommendation advocating civil rights for same-sex couples.
:: In other actions, the assembly elected the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, 39, as the denomination’s moderator, and the Rev. Gradye Parsons as the general assembly’s stated clerk. Parsons succeeds the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, who has served 12 years. Kirkpatrick will continue to continue to serve for two years as president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. [425 words]
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