Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Presbyterians Vote Yea on Gay 'Clergy'

After decades of debate, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Tuesday struck down a barrier to ordaining gays, ratifying a proposal that removes the celibacy requirement for unmarried clergy, in the latest mainline Protestant move toward accepting gay relationships.

For background, read Gay 'Clergy' in Withering Presbyterian PCUSA

-- From "Presbyterians clear way for gay clergy" by Rachel Zoll, Associated Press Religion Writer 5/10/11

The change was endorsed last year by the Presbyterian national assembly, but required approval by a majority of the denomination's 173 presbyteries, or regional church bodies.

The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, based in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., cast the deciding 87th vote Tuesday night. Sixty-two presbyteries have voted against the measure and balloting will continue, but the majority needed for ratification was secured in Minnesota.

Differences over the Bible and homosexuality have split Protestant groups nationally and worldwide for years. Within the Presbyterian Church, about 100 of the 11,000 congregations had already broken away ahead of the vote, but a group of large theologically conservative congregations, which calls itself Fellowship, has decided to remain in the denomination for now.

The much smaller Presbyterian Church in America, a separate denomination, bars ordination for women and openly gay clergy candidates.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Presbyterians clear way for ordaining gays, lesbians" by Peter Smith, Louisville Courier-Journal 5/10/11

Non-celibate gays and lesbians will become eligible for ordination in the Louisville-based Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) following ratification of a constitutional amendment that reverses decades of official policy.

But the Presbyterians for Renewal, a Louisville-based coalition of evangelical churches, lamented “this unfaithful action” in a statement.

“In a lot of presbyteries, evangelical folks didn’t show up in enough numbers that it swung some votes,” added its executive director, the Rev. Paul Detterman. “People really are just weary of this debate.…How opposing sides can work together without compromising their core identities under the same denominational canopy is the question of the day.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Presbyterian Church Votes To Allow Openly Gay And Lesbian Clergy" by Jaweed Kaleem, Huffington Post 5/10/11

The move reflects a monumental shift in the 2.8 million-member church, which, along with other mainline Protestant denominations, has had increasingly contentious debates and struggles over issues pertaining to gay and lesbian members.

As with other denominations that have allowed gay clergy, most notably Episcopalians, disapproving congregations will likely leave the church. According to the Presbyterian News Service, around 100 congregations have defected in recent years, many of which leaned conservative. Experts say the shift toward more liberal presbyteries could be a reason some church bodies switched their votes from two years ago.

The old text of the church’s Book of Order did not refer specifically to gay clergy, but banned non-celibate clergy who did not live "within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman." That amendment was added in 1997.

The new, revised amendment also does not mention gay clergy, but it removes a requirement of chastity for non-married clergy.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Presbyterians Will Allow Gay Clergy - Could Prompt Schism" by Lindsay Watts, KRDO NewsChannel TV-13 (Colorado Springs) 5/10/11

Rev. Jim Singleton, senior pastor of of the First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs called the decision "disappointing."

"I think it will be a messy year as (churches) decide how to respond," said Singleton.

Singleton is one of the founding members of the Presbyterian Global Fellowship, a group he described as seeking to unite like-minded churches that share a common view of scripture.

"We're in discussions now, but haven't crafted exactly how we're going to respond yet," he said.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Presbyterian vote paves way for openly gay pastors to be ordained" by John Brewer, Twin Cities Pioneer Press 5/10/11

. . . Rev. David Van Dyke, pastor at House of Hope Presbyterian Church on St. Paul's Summit Avenue . . . said the vote doesn't mean that openly gay church members will be scrambling to serve as ministers, elders and deacons, but that congregations will now be allowed to let them serve.

"The reality is that churches that right now would never consider ordaining an openly gay elder or deacon don't have to do it," Van Dyke said. "It is not a mandate."

At Hope Church in Richfield, Pastor David Lenz said his congregation wouldn't change how it approaches the ordination of church officers because of the vote.

"This is our process - votes are taken and the majority wins. We can express our disappointment," Lenz said. "We believe the Bible reveals a different plan around this area of human sexuality."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Presbyterian Church to ordain gays as ministers" by Andrew Stern, Reuters 5/10/11

Other mainline Protestant denominations in the United States to drop their prohibitions on gay clergy are the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Church. The move by The Episcopal Church has opened rifts in the American church and in the larger Anglican Communion to which it belongs.

The United Methodist Church, a mainline Protestant denomination, continues to wrestle over the issue. The United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church broke new ground in the mid-1950s when both faiths approved the ordination of women.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Also read Liberal 'Churches' Continue to Wither as well as Methodists Wonder Why Members Leave in Droves