Responses roll in to Presbyterians' action on ordination standards

Now that The Presbyterian Church (USA) has relaxed its prohibition on ordaining sexually active gays and lesbians as officers through the passage of its Amendment 10-A by majority vote of its presbyteries, the reactions have begun to come in.

Assent to the amendment of the PC(USA) constitution specifically takes the form of changing the ordination fitness requirement from "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness" to a call “to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life."

Activist organizers hailed the move. More Light Presbyterian Co-Moderator Rev. Janet Edwards joyfully told NPR:

We have opened up our minds and hearts to see God's word to us now. You know, we understand that change is a necessary part of Christian life. We are reformed Christians. And reformed means always knowing that God will show us new things and call us forward. And that's exactly what has happened....

We have come to this point in the Presbyterian Church, by having had thousands and thousands of conversations. I know that there are those who are afraid of the future that you are speaking of. But the Bible tells us that love casts out fear. So I'm very hopeful. I see a stronger more unified church in the future. And the future is in God's hands.

Meanwhile, 24 former Moderators of the PC(USA) General Assembly have written to the church of their collective support for the measure.

We believe that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) needs the voices and gifts of all of us, whether we agree with Amendment 10-A or not. Our unity is strengthened by our diversity, and vigorous debate as well as mutual forbearance is essential to the body. After thirty years of struggle related to the call and ordination of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, it is now time to move forward. We pray that God will bless all of us with a fresh commitment to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with a world hungry for the grace, justice, and truth of the Gospel.

And in the LA Times, Rev. Randall Tremba writes of a slow conversion allowing him to support such moves by the church over a significant stretch of years. As of now, though:

In taking this action, I believe our church moved a step forward and brought itself closer in line with Christ's all-embracing love.

But it's not a step all Presbyterians welcome. I know this because for years, I was on the other side....

So, to pastors and others who dread the consequences of openly gay and lesbian people serving as ministers, elders and deacons, I would simply say: This is a sacred moment, and a time for rejoicing. The church's action last week recognized an important teaching from the book of Galatians: "We are all one in Jesus Christ."

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