Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lesbian Activist 'Pastor' on Trial by PCUSA

A lesbian minister, who officiated at more than a dozen same-sex weddings during the brief window gay marriage was legal in California, goes to trial Thursday before a Presbyterian court, charged with violating her denomination's constitution.

UPDATE 8/28/10: Denomination slaps "pastor's" hand and warns her to not do it again

-- From "Church court tries minister who performed same-sex marriages" by Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times 8/24/10

The case of the Rev. Jane Adams Spahr has gained national attention because "what is being tested is the definition of marriage" in the Presbyterian faith, said the Rev. Carmen Fowler, president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, a conservative organization that opposes same-sex marriage.

Although the Presbyterian constitution does not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriage, it defines marriage as "a civil contract between a woman and a man." But same-sex marriage is legal in five states and the District of Columbia and is working its way through the courts in California.

In July, the [PCUSA] General Assembly, which meets every two years, voted to repeal [the pastors' chastity in singleness] requirement. Now the denomination's 173 regions, or presbyteries, will have until June to vote on whether to ratify that change. The amendment is not believed to have been used against a straight minister and it effectively blocks the ordination of gay ministers who are in committed relationships.

The balloting will be the fifth time that efforts to ordain gay clergy have gone to such a vote.

Spahr was ordained in 1974, when she was the married mother of two young sons. The 68-year-old came out in 1978 and has fought for full inclusion of gays and lesbians in Presbyterian life ever since. She was able to remain a minister because she was ordained before the anti-gay edicts.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Presbyterian pastor faces religious trial for performing same-sex marriages" by Josh Richman, Oakland Tribune 8/23/10

After 36 years as a Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Jane Adams Spahr, 68, of San Francisco, could face censure, a suspension from pastoral duties, or -- unlikely, but possible -- even revocation of her ordination after proceedings starting Tuesday at the Presbytery of the Redwoods in Napa.

With more than 2 million adherents, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has allowed the blessing of same-sex couples since 2000 and has endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples since 2004, but its constitution defines marriage as between "a man and a woman." A church legislative committee voted 34-18 last month to change that definition to between "two people," but the church's General Assembly days later voted 439-208 to table the matter for two years of further study.

Those arguing for the change say same-sex couples can show the same kind of love and commitment as opposite-sex couples and so deserve the same recognition from the church; those arguing against it say it's at odds with Scripture.

The trial is expected to take several days and it is unclear when the panel may rule.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.