Tag Archives: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

PCUSA Just 7 Votes From Approving Gay Marriage, in Church.

At their General Assembly in 2014, the Presbyterian Church of the USA voted to change the church’s “definition” of marriage in it’s own Constitution, to make it gender neutral. That decision required approval by a majority of local presbyteries. After the Presbytery of East Tennessee became just the latest to approve the resolution,   just 7 more votes in favour are required, for full ratification of the proposal.

 Gay marriage

Presbytery of East TN approves same-sex marriage amendment

(WBIR) The Presbytery of East Tennessee (PET) voted Saturday afternoon in favor of an amendment that would change the national church’s definition of marriage to “between two persons, traditionally a man and a woman.”

Currently, the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church defines marriage as “between a man and a woman.”

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) or PC(USA) is asking representatives from each of its more than 170 presbyteries to vote on the issue of same-sex marriage.

Elected representatives from each East Tennessee congregation met in Chattanooga and narrowly approved the proposal, 61 yes, 56 no.

– more at  WBIR

Continue reading PCUSA Just 7 Votes From Approving Gay Marriage, in Church.

Gay Marriage – in Alabama Churches!

In the news the past week, has been the legal conflict over marriage between the federal courts and the head of the state supreme court.

Of interest for lgbt Christians , is that even in this deeply conservative Southern state, churches are making provision for same – sex church weddings. A central Alabama grouping of Presbyterian congregations this week approved the resolution taken at last year’s General Synod to change the definition of marriage in the church’s constitution:

The Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley, a central Alabama group of churches affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), voted 75-39 Thursday in favor of approving gay marriages.

They became one of about 38 presbyteries nationwide that have voted in favor of gay marriage, with 14 voting against. The change to the 1.8-million-member denomination’s official stance will become official if 86 of the 171 presbyteries vote in favor.

The denomination’s General Assembly last year issued an authoritative interpretation allowing same-sex marriages, but the vote will change language in the constitution that says “marriage is a civil contract between a woman and a man” to language stating that marriage is between “two persons.”

Previously, the Episcopal bishop of Alabama has said that the diocese will conduct blessing services (but not marriage services) for same – sex couples.

Presbyterian Inclusion: Ratification Reflects the Bigger Transformation of Christian Response to Homoerotic Love

In the three weeks since I first noted that Presbyterian ratification for the ordination of partnered gay and lesbian clergy looked promising, the prospects have continued to improve.  There are now 13 regional presbyteries that have switched from No to Yes –  compared with just a single one which has switched the other way, from Yes to No. This makes a net gain of 12 – against just the 9 which are needed. It is likely that there will be others too, making the switch in the weeks ahead. Already, the number approving ratification (67) is more than two thirds of the way to the 87 required – just 20 more to go, with 58 votes to still to be held. The opposition, conversely, would need to win 39 of those remaining votes to prevail.

This process is clearly of fundamental importance to LGBT Presbyterians in the USA, but I believe it has far greater importance for the entire Christian church, worldwide: it is just one, local manifestation of a much bigger process. The ECLA took a similar decision in 2009, and recently 33 retired Methodist bishops called for that denomination to do the same. Three openly gay and partnered bishops have been ordained in the Episcopal and Swedish Lutheran churches, and the German Lutherans have no problem with pastors living with same sex partners. The process extends beyond the ordination of gay clergy. There is increasing willingness in many local churches and (some national denominations) to bless same sex partnerships or even celebrate gay weddings in Church. These are not, as the conservatives claim, simply opportunistic accomodation to secular trends in defiance of Scripture, but are prompted in large part precisely by careful attention to scholarly Biblical study, prayer and attentive listening process. Even Catholic professional theologians are now recognizing what lay Catholics already know – that homoerotic relationships in themselves are not immoral. What is presently unfolding in the PCUSA, why I find it so riveting, is nothing less than a wholesale transformation of Christian responses to homosexuality.

 

I have reproduced below my original post on this, showing how the numbers have changed in the past thee weeks, showing the current status as at 17th March:

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Last year, the Presbyterian Church of the USA voted to approve changes in the criteria for ordination of clergy, in terms which do not discriminate against partnered gay or lesbian candidates. The resolution removes a paragraph which includes 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.

and inserts instead:

Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G.14.0240; G-14.0450) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.

In effect, this is a vote for full inclusion of LGBT Presbyterians in the life of the Church. The vote at General Assembly must be ratified by a majority of local presbyteries before it takes effect. 2010 was not the first time that General Assembly voted in favour of inclusion: similar resolutions were passed in 2009, and   and – but failed to secure ratification. This year could be different.

An analysis of the votes held so far shows that presbyteries voting in favour of ratification presently lead those opposed by 46 67  (as at 17/03) to 34 48, with just 93 58 presbyteries still left to vote.  While we cannot predict with certainty what those votes will be until they have been concluded, there are useful clues in how they voted previously. My own investigation of the spreadsheet shows that with 46 67 presbyteries having voted in support, only 41 20 more are needed to secure ratification. Conversely, the 40 48 voting against still need to add 53 39 presbyteries to defeat the proposal – a much tougher prospect. While we cannot predict with certainty how the remaining presbyteries will vote, there are clues. For each one, the published spreadsheet shows how it voted on the previous similar measure from General Assembly 2009. If each of them were to vote in precisely the same way as it did last time around, the result would be :

Votes in favour – 86 90; Tie –  2; Votes against –  78 81. Presbyteries with tied votes count as “no”, so the effective result would be  Yes – 86 90, No  –  78 83 – and a win for inclusion.

However, there is no reason to suppose that they will vote the same way as before. Where votes have already been held, there has been a clear increase in support. Just the tiniest movement in favour would tilt at least the two tied votes to yes votes, which would be enough to tilt the balance. The record from the raw votes cast shows than in fact, across all presbyteries the percentage level of support increased by an average of 5%. If that applies uniformly across those presbyteries that have not yet voted, there will be a further 7 switching from “No” to “Yes”, adding to the 9 13  that have already done so. (So far, only one has switched the other way, from support to opposition).  That will lead to:

Votes in favour  – 97;  Votes against –  76, and ratification for inclusion by a clear margin.

The prospects look good.

But, as the folk at More Light Presbyterians constantly remind us, progress doesn’t just happen – it takes hard work and organisation. More Light Presbyterians have a permanent feature in their newsletters advising of local workshops, where participants can learn how to help in influencing their own congregations.

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