The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s highest governing body voted Friday in favor of a proposal that would allow for the ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians.
The 218th General Assembly, meeting in San Jose, Calif., this week, voted 380-325 to send the overture – that would delete the requirement that clergy live in “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness” – to the denomination’s 173 presbyteries for approval.
Adding to the blow to conservatives, the Assembly also adopted a supplementary authoritative interpretation of the PC(USA) constitution that would allow gay and lesbian candidates for ordination to conscientiously object the current “fidelity and chastity” standard and the local ordaining body to discern whether the declared objection is disqualifying.
After decades of debate on gay clergy, commissioners and delegates at the meeting continued to argue on both sides, but the debate this year was shorter than in previous years, according to the Presbyterian news service from the General Assembly.
Approving the proposal of amending the PC(USA)’s constitution would “destabilize the denomination, obliterate trust and reduce funding for the church. Don’t send a shock wave through the church,” said the Rev. William Stepp of Tropical Florida Presbytery, who opposed the drop on the gay clergy ban.
The PC(USA) “needs a continuing strong witness to biblical standards for sexuality,” he added, according to the news service.
But with discussion on ordination standards having gone on for 30 years, the Rev. Susan Fisher of Pacific Presbytery felt “compelled” to advance the amendment to the presbyteries to “let the wider church decide if now is the time” to change the standards.
The Rev. Dan Holloway of Providence Presbytery, who moderated the Assembly Committee on Church Orders and Ministries that brought the recommendation to the Assembly, stressed that the Assembly’s vote has not changed the denomination’s constitution. But with heated debates expected across the denomination as presbyteries decide whether to approve the proposed amendment – a process that could take up to a year – Holloway urged for “gracious and loving and welcoming” conversations “since we are not all of one mind.”
Pleading for unity, outgoing General Assembly Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick said, “There are people who are gay and lesbian who long passionately to be included. There are others who believe strongly, not that they don’t love them, but that standards must be upheld. What is essential is the spirit of unity as we go forward to a new stage in the process.”
Also on Friday, the Assembly approved a new authoritative interpretation of the Book of Order – which contains Rules of Discipline for the PC(USA) – declaring that interpretive statements related to sexual standards for ordination that predate the adoption of the “fidelity and chastity” requirement in 1996 “have no further force or effect,” as reported by the Assembly news service.
The “fidelity and chastity” requirement had replaced language prohibiting non-celibate gays and lesbians from ministry.
Courtesy of christianpost.com
4 Replies to “PCUSA Assembly Approves Deleting Gay Clergy Ban”
Eventually all states and religions will have to make the same changes in order to deal with the future of this country and our entire evolving world culture.
Not eveyone will be happy, but change happens.
It is how we deal with it personally that affects how each individual is viewed in God’s eyes.
I strongly disagree, my friend. We, as a nation, do not have to make changes to appease the sinful nature of certain groups of people in order to “deal with the future and the evolving world culture”. In fact, this country was founded by a group of individuals who did not embrace the idea of conforming to what the rest of the world was all about. We live in a free country, and to that end everyone should be free to make their own choices within the framework of our constitution. However, that freedom, and the amazing words of our nation’s preamble say nothing of endorsing sexual immorality.
Gays and lesbians do not stand in the same place of civil hardship that women and minorities have stood in the past. Gays and lesbians have made the choice to live in sin. Therefore, they should not receive the same attention in our nation’s courts regarding “equal rights”. The equal rights amendment was installed in our constitution to create equality among all of our nations races. Homosexuals are not a race, nor are they an ethnic group.
By all intents and purposes, your argument would support the same type of openness and support for the possibility of pedophiles fighting for their own rights and equality to other groups. I assume you believe gays are born that way. Do you also believe people are “born as pedophiles”?
I am absolutely sickened! January 2008 I began my three year term as an Elder in the PCUSA. I have left several churches and denominations and returned back to PCUSA. And this? I cannot accept this! The Bible is very clear on the subject. Eyes are being blinded. Where do I go from here…
There is no easy answer, my friend. I will pray for you. My initial gut feeling would be to distance myself from a church that endorses such moves. Maybe there is a local congregation that is currently a part of the PCUSA, but that disagrees with this ruling? If so, there is an opportunity there to remain with the group you have felt called to serve, and lead out from under the sinful decisions of the association.
Bless you in your journey through this difficult time.