A gay clergyperson has been re-instated in the Presbyterian Church. The reinstatement was based on the person's exercising a "scruples" clause (conscientious objection) to a "one man, one woman" definition of marriage in an ordination standard.
LOUISVILLE — John Knox Presbytery has voted to ordain to the ministry Scott D. Anderson, a gay man who has been in a committed relationship for close to two decades, and who declared a conscientious objection to the requirement in the ordination standards of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that those being ordained practice “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness.
Meeting in Madison, Wisc., on Feb. 20, John Knox voted 81-25 to ordain Anderson, who currently is executive director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches. He previously worked as a pastor in Sacramento, CA, and set aside his ordination in 1990 after two members of the congregation he was then serving publicly revealed that he is gay.
The theological task force — of which Anderson was a member — suggested an authoritative interpretation, which the General Assembly adopted in 2006, which allows candidates for ordination to declare a “scruple,” or an objection based on conscience, to the PC(USA)’s ordination standards.
The governing body responsible for ordaining then must decide whether that objection violates an essential of Reformed faith and practice. If the determination is that it does not, the candidate can be ordained.
In an interview, Anderson said he’s scheduled his ordination service for May 15, but expects the court challenge likely will bring a stay of enforcement, and a delay in his ordination as the case works its way through the church courts.
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"As a life-long Christian and Presbyterian, the counter-cultural character of God challenges me. God's justice, which in scripture is focused on the marginalized in society, is rarely embraced by the world. From poverty to economic inequality, from environmental degradation to the growing specter of violence both at home and around the world, the prophetic call 'to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God' (Micah 6:8) gives shape to the church's missional imperative in the 21st century."
"My ecumenical vocation began when I helped organize a CROP walk as a high school junior. That experience gave me a larger vision of the church beyond our denominational tribalism. Jesus' prayer for his disciples 'that all may be one' (John 17:11) defines ecumenism as both gift and task."
From the blog Spirit of a Liberal on clergy civil disobedience:
The PCUSA is scheduled to convene its 219th annual General Assembly on July 3 in Minneapolis (perhaps ironically, in the same venue as the ELCA assembly which voted to allow gay clergy last year). Certainly, ministry policies will be front and center of the assembly business. If the PCUSA judiciary affirms the Anderson ordination based on the policy of “scruple”, it would appear that the burden of persuasion will have shifted from gay clergy advocates to their opponents; that is, it will be the burden of the opponents of gay clergy to persuade the assembly to change the policy and notvice versa.