Tags: presbyterian church usa | same-sex | marriage | christian

Presbyterian Church USA: Same-Sex Marriage Is a Christian Union

By    |   Friday, 20 Jun 2014 12:19 PM

An amendment approved by the Presbyterian Church (USA) recognizes same-sex marriage as Christian and changes language that marriage is the union of "a man and a woman" to being the union of "two people."

According to The Associated Press, the church's constitutional change approved Thursday by the Presbyterian General Assembly requires approval from a majority of the 172 regional presbyteries, which will vote on the change over the next year. But in a separate policy change that takes effect at the end of this week's meeting, delegates voted to allow ministers to preside at gay weddings in states where the unions are legal and local congregational leaders approve. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage.

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The votes, during a national meeting in Detroit, were a sweeping victory for Presbyterian gay-rights advocates. The denomination in 2011 eliminated barriers to ordaining clergy with same-sex partners, but ministers were still barred from celebrating gay marriages and risked church penalties for doing so. Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, a gay advocacy group, said the amendment was "an answer to many prayers."

The Rev. Krystin Granberg of the New York Presbytery — in a state that recognizes gay marriage — said she receives requests "all the time" from friends and parishioners to preside at their weddings.

"They want to be married in the church they love and they want me to do it," Granberg said during the debate. "I want pastoral relief."

But Bill Norton, of the Presbytery de Cristo, which covers parts of Arizona and New Mexico, urged the assembly to delay any changes. "We are laying hands on something that is holy, that God has given us, so we need to be sure any changes we make are in accord with God's will revealed in Scripture," Norton said.

Since the 2011 gay ordination vote, 428 of the denomination's more than 10,000 churches have left for other more conservative denominations or have dissolved, though some theological conservatives have remained within the denomination as they decide how to move forward. The church now has about 1.8 million members.

The conservative Presbyterian Lay Committee decried the votes in Detroit as an "abomination." The assembly voted 371-238 to allow ministers to celebrate same-sex marriages, and 429-175 in favor of amending the definition of marriage in the constitution.

"The General Assembly has committed an express repudiation of the Bible, the mutually agreed upon Confessions of the PCUSA, thousands of years of faithfulness to God's clear commands and the denominational ordination vows of each concurring commissioner," the Presbyterian Lay Committee said in a statement.

Of the mainline Protestant denominations, only the United Church of Christ supports gay marriage outright. The Episcopal Church has approved a prayer service for blessing same-sex unions. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has eliminated barriers for gay clergy but allows regional and local church officials to decide their own policies on ordination and blessings for same-sex couples.

The United Methodist Church, the largest mainline group with about 7.8 million U.S. members, bars ordaining people in same-sex relationships. However, church members have been debating whether to split over their different views of the Bible and marriage. In protest of church policy, gay marriage supporters have been recruiting clergy to openly officiate at same-sex ceremonies.

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An amendment approved by the Presbyterian Church (USA) recognizes same-sex marriage as Christian and changes language that marriage is the union of "a man and a woman" to being the union of "two people."
presbyterian church usa, same-sex, marriage, christian
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2014-19-20
Friday, 20 Jun 2014 12:19 PM
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