Betty Greene Salwak

Presbyterian Church Approves Ordination Amendment for Gay Clergy

Filed By Betty Greene Salwak | May 11, 2011 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: gay clergy, inclusive churches, Michael Adee, More Light Presbyterians, Presbyterian Church (USA)

After 33 years of proposals, voting, and defeat, on May 10 the PCUSA approved Ordination Amendment 10-A, presbyterian-gay.jpgwhich allows individual churches and presbyteries to ordain gay clergy and lay leaders if they so choose. Passed by a simple majority of presbyteries across the country, the amendment permits each congregation to call ministers, elders, and deacons who best fit its unique needs without regard to marital status or sexual orientation. It is a victory long overdue.

Michael Adee, gay elder in the Presbyterian Church and executive director of More Light Presbyterians, says he believes the amendment offers an "unconditional welcome and invitation to faith, grace, salvation, church membership and ministry to all of God's children, not just some." Adee likens the journey to a mountain climb; and the summit of this particular mountain has been claimed in the name of those who have been turned away from their call to serve, desire to worship, and need to gather together in a community of faith.

This triumph is a cause to rejoice. It is not yet enough, but it is a change toward equality, one more step in becoming the church that reflects the grace we are privileged to receive. Let us take a moment to be thankful and gird ourselves for the continuing journey toward the highest expression of God's full grace. We must continue to lead by example what we believe God is saying to us -- by listening, to God and to those hurt by the church, and living a faith that is a magnet instead of a weapon.

May 10 is a very special day for me for another reason: it is the anniversary of my brother's death, the fuel for the journey I have undertaken to right an overwhelming wrong. I think of David today and recall the instant I learned he was afraid of me because of my faith. David, this moment is for you. But our work is not done until there is no one who feels that fear again.

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It is a victory long overdue, indeed. It's the first time in years I've been proud to be a Presbyterian again.

Rick Sutton | May 11, 2011 9:37 AM

A very smart move.

Methodists, are you paying attention?

So now the UCC folk, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Presbyterians officially support us. The Methodists, Baptists, and Pentecostals remain, but you've gotta like the trendlines here.

It's a step forward, and yet as a former Presbyterian minister I'm not ready to celebrate yet. The column I wrote a few weeks ago still holds true. This isn't full inclusion. There are plenty of presbyteries that won't accept gay ministers. And ministers still cannot officiate at LGBT weddings. And now there will be fights in every presbytery on inclusion.

It's funny because when I was in seminary, over ten years ago now, this same solution was being discussed. It was rejected as "too congregational" and "not full inclusion". Instead we voted for years on amendments which would have made this a nationwide lifting of the ban. Each failed. In the end, this was a compromise which was the only way forward.

I'm feeling a little frustrated today by the admonition to those of us who feel like this is inadequate that we should be celebrating. (Not coming from Betty, but from others.) I guess I just saw so many people hurt by this policy that a move towards partial inclusion that doesn't even address us by name seems like something I'm not sure I can celebrate.

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I am grateful to hear of another denomination coming to this decision. One step closer to feeling welcome in God's house along side all God's children!