PCUSA votes for inclusion

UPDATED: 5/11 AP reports:

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.

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.

According to reports on Twitter right now, the Twin Cities Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church has voted overwhelmingly to support an Amendment (10-A) that would effectively change existing policy and now allow partnered LGBT clergy to serve as ordained ministers. This vote means that a majority of Presbyteries have voted in the affirmative and the amendment is passed nationally. The final vote in the Twin Cities was 205 in favor and 56 opposed.

The tweets are using either #PCUSA or #PTCA if you'd like follow along.

Our background is here.

Background on Amendment 10-A is can be found here.

The new rule will read:

G-6.0106b. Those who are called to ordained service in the church, by their assent to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003) pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church, striving to follow where he leads through the witness of the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions. In so doing, they declare their fidelity to the standards of the Church. Each governing body charged with examination for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240 and G-14.0450) establishes the candidate's sincere efforts to adhere to these standards.

From the Presbyterian news site:

While the Office of the General Assembly awaits official tallies, it appears that a majority of the 173 presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have approved a change in PC(USA) ordination standards.

At its meeting on Tuesday, May 10, 2011, the Presbytery of Twin Cities Area became the 87th presbytery to approve an amendment that will remove the constitutional requirement that all ministers, elders, and deacons live in “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness” (G-6.0106b in the church’s Book of Order).

Comments (7)

I'm writing as a long-ago former Presbyterian (became an Episcopalian after a year at Princeton Seminary in 1969) whose mother is an active Presbyterian pastor and sometime moderator of her presbytery (the unit that corresponds more or less to our diocese). I'm pretty sure that this vote is permissive rather than prescriptive. What it means is that presbyteries will now be allowed to make their own local decisions concerning ordinands and membership in presbytery (placement) of clergy coming from other presbyteries. In order for any presbytery to affirm call and ordination of any LGBT person or subsequent to church action to welcome an ordained LGBT person into local pastoral leadership, a majority of presbyteries had to okay the permission in principle. There will still be presbyteries that do not ordain or welcome LGBT people. As I read and hear it, it's now nationally approved as local option. Huge progress and actually like ours of an interplay between national policy and local/regional discretion.

I think of my spiritual director Marcia, an ordained Presbyterian woman who has fought for this.

I think of Gay and Lesbian kids who are Presbyterian, whose journeys will be easier because of this.

I think of GLBT elders who are Presbyterian, who have stuck with their faith through years of trials and persecutions. Some are celebrating tonight; some are shrugging because nothing will change in their local presbyteries.

I wonder if others will ever know what it's like to be Gay and hated. Lepers! Samaritans! Apostates, perverts! Criminals!

But listen closely and you can almost hear the singing in heaven.

I'll say it again,


JC Fisher

Just another indicator that we are, and have been, on the right side of history the arc of which is "long but bends toward justice."

It was predestined.

This comment may sound picky to some.. but others may be grateful to be seen..

It should be corrected in all the language going around the internet that what the PCUSA did on 10 May was *not* a vote about the LGBT community. The vote in front of the PCUSA was about the gay and lesbian community.

I say this because, well first off the wording in the first amendment that was changed is this:
"Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness."

Technically, this allows for someone who is transgender and has fully embraced the gender that society has deemed as "opposite" of what they were born as - rather than embracing a third - or fourth - or fifth, etc.. as many in the trans community are now doing - could be ordained in this wording.

But the problem lies in, while this is true in writing, in reality the PCUSA is not ready to deal with gender identity, and thus this change, while technically still allows for those embracing the opposite gender that they were born with, in practice is not likely to happen (Bruce Reyes-Chow agreed with me on this point when I posted a comment about this on his blog).

So, here's what I ask. I ask that you do not include the T when talking about the community unless the issue you are writing about *also* includes gender identity. If the issue you are addressing does not address that as well it is a misrepresentation. I believe it is also a way of making the trans community invisible. By saying LGBT when only addressing LG people get to look like they are embracing the T community, when, in actuality, they aren't. They are getting credit for what they aren't doing. In the mainstream, among people who aren't allies for the Trans community, I believe it makes the Trans community invisible. It makes it appear that they are a part of the discourse, the work towards ending oppression, when actually they are being left out of the discourse, they are being removed.

Like I said, it may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Just as rights for gays and lesbians is about people's lives and ending suffering due to oppressive policies, the same goes for the Trans community. These are people full of courage who keep getting left on the sidelines and are being told to wait until the appropriate time by the mainstream community, including the mainstream gay and lesbian community, while they continue to suffer. It's not right, and using the appropriate language is *one way* to make it better.

Brooke, it appears to me that all you are doing personally is choosing to pull away from the embrace of the entire community. In the same breath in which you say that in practice it is not likely to happen for members of the Trans community, one could also say that in practice it also is not likely to happen for anyone LGB, at least not in every region or presbytery in the church.

The amendment is not a guarantee for anyone who is LGBT, it merely took down a barrier. There will still be work to do in building bridges to see that folks are ordained from all four of the subgroups who are the LGBT. Pulling away and saying this really does not include me, is a matter of choice. Hopefully it does not become self-fulfilling reality for the entire Trans community. But if it does, you may need to look in the mirror for the cause.

David Allen

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