Monday, April 27, 2009

Ordaining Gays and Lesbians

From: Shuck and Jive:

The day after the 87th vote was taken an overture was sent to presbytery en route to the 2010 General Assembly. Here is a news release from Northside Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan:

Ann Arbor, MI – Today, Northside Presbyterian Church, a congregation in the Presbyterian Church (USA), proposed a new amendment to the denomination’s constitution that would allow the ordination of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) members. This action was taken as a response to the narrow defeat of a similar proposed change that the denomination has been debating during the past year. Northside’s new proposed amendment would allow the ordination of anyone in the denomination whom God has called, regardless of sexual orientation.

Today, a majority of presbyteries, the local governing bodies of the PC(USA), considered, but by a razor-thin margin failed to ratify, a similar amendment to Part II of the denomination’s constitution, The Book of Order. This was the third such vote in the past 12 years. In contrast to those previous votes, this year an unprecedented number of presbyteries reversed their positions and now stand for justice and inclusion for their LGBT members. In spite of today’s setback, with such powerful momentum building for equality in the denomination, Northside Presbyterian believes it is imperative that the struggle for full inclusion in the life and ministry of the PC(USA) continue without delay and so proposes this new amendment.

“We are seeing something today akin to what happened in our denomination in the 1950s with the ordination of women,” said Brian Spolarich, Elder and Clerk of the Session, the governing body of the congregation. “It took over a decade of organizing, and multiple votes for our denomination to get it right, but in the end we recognized the Holy Spirit leading us to draw the circle of leadership more broadly, not more narrowly. I have faith that we will eventually get this one right, too.”

The new proposed amendment will go to the Presbytery of Detroit for action. If approved, it will be sent to the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) for action in 2010. Then, if approved by the General Assembly, the amendment would require approval from a majority of the 173 presbyteries in order to be ratified.

About Northside Presbyterian Church:

Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we are a small, dynamic congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Celebrating our 50th anniversary this year, we attract a diverse membership from all over Southeastern Michigan. In our denomination, the PC(USA), Northside Presbyterian Church takes a stand as a More Light congregation, affirming and celebrating the Spirit’s marvelous gift of diversity in ministry and ordained leadership, welcoming all sexual orientations and gender identities. Find out more about our faith community on our web site,

About More Light Presbyterians:

More Light Presbyterians, the oldest gay rights group in the 2.3 million member Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), works for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the PCUSA. Web site:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mainline Clergy Going Liberal

Are mainline Protestant Clergy going liberal?

Well, the latest poll results are in, and it seems that mainline clergy are, indeed, going liberal.

In response to this report appearing in the Presbyterian Outlook, I wrote the following:

While some will decry the results, I celebrate them - to be more just, on the one hand, and to freely admit our diversity of thought and belief on the other. For 1500 years, the church traded in “the right answers” - we had them; others didn't, and if you didn't you might lose your head or be burned at the stake. We knew we had the answers – they were in the councils of the church and in the Pope; in the Reformation, we found them in the Bible and enshrined them in our confessions.

But God has been slowly unshackling the church from its self-imprisonment in answers. Answers fail us badly; they divide us, one from the other - "my answer is bigger and better than your answer," and the very moment we craft an answer and spell it with capital letters, we've cast a graven image of God.

We are recovering the original diversity of the Bible - Leviticus to Psalm 23, Deuteronomy to the Song of Songs, from Matthew to John, from Paul to Peter, from James to Revelation, and we're learning the heart and soul of love for the neighbor, the harvest of righteousness (Philippians 1:11, James 3:18) as an outworking of our love for God who shows no partiality (Acts 10:34, James 2:9).

We are learning that the truth of Christ is vastly different than our answers - thus, creating a new humility and a fresh openness. If this be liberalism, God be praised.