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We give thanks to God that Katie Ricks was approved for ordination by New Hope Presbytery on February 18. The passage of Amendment 10-A, now G-2.0104 in our Book of Order, made it possible for Katie to be ordained. Katie is a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary who has been serving as an associate in ministry at the Church of the Reconciliation, a welcoming and affirming More Light church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
(Photo: AP Images / The Press Democrat, Christopher Chung)
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The highest court of the U.S. Presbyterian Church will convene in Texas on Friday to consider whether a lesbian minister violated ecclesiastical law when she blessed the weddings of same-sex couples in California.
The case surrounding the Rev. Jane Spahr, a 69-year-old grandmother, highlights deep divisions within the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and its 2 million members, as well as other mainline Protestant denominations over gay and lesbian marriage.
Spahr, who has battled for greater acceptance of homosexuality in the life of the Kentucky-based church for decades, was the first openly gay Presbyterian pastor asked to preside over a local ministry, though she was barred from accepting the post because of her sexual orientation.
by Bill Carpenter
From August 24 through August 26, Soulforce co-founder Mel White and I were in Napa, CA, representing Soulforce at the trial of our long time friend and colleague, the Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr. And, on August 27, a panel of six commissioners, sitting as judges on the Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) of the Presbyterian Church(USA) through the Redwoods Presbytery, found Rev. Spahr “guilty of misconduct” for officiating at the weddings of sixteen gay and lesbian couples during that window of opportunity (June-November, 2008) when same sex couples could legally marry in California.
The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church(USA) defines marriage as a sacred union between a man and a woman and any Presbyterian clergy person who threatens to undermine that doctrine by performing a wedding for a lesbian or gay couple can be charged, tried and punished for their courageous act. The PJC could have imposed a penalty from a “censure by rebuke” to a removal of Janie’s ordination. Incidentally, she was found not guilty of similar charges at a trial by the same PJC of Redwoods Presbytery in 2006.
In other words, when asked to perform a same sex wedding ceremony which is legal under the laws of the State of California, the Presbyterian hierarchy demands that their clergy say “NO!”. Janie, like so many courageous Presbyterian clergy before her, refused to obey the unjust and discriminatory doctrine and said “YES!” instead.
by Brian Murphy
The Layman covered Soulforce’s actions at the recent PC(USA) General Assembly. Here is an excerpt from the article.
MINNEAPOLIS – Deliberations at the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) were interrupted Friday afternoon by members of Soulforce, an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights advocacy group.
Approximately 20 protestors, some wearing badges identifying themselves as GA commissioners or observers, walked through the area restricted for commissioners only, surrounded the platform and sang “Lord Hear Our Prayer.”
After refusing requests to end the protest from PCUSA staff, GA Moderator Cindy Bolbach, building security and finally police officers, 11 protestors were arrested and escorted from the Minneapolis Convention Center. They were issued trespassing citations and released. Some protestors left the convention center voluntarily and were not cited for trespassing.
Read the full article at The Laymen
What do you think of the news coverage and of other reactions to the events at the General Assembly? Why is non-violent resistance necessary and what are some other creative ways we might speak truth to power?
by Guest Author
This article is a guest post from John Shuck and was originally posted at Shuck and Jive
There was a bit of excitement at the Presbyterian General Assembly yesterday. Members of Soulforceparticipated in a demonstration during the proceedings. They held signs and sang a few tunes and were arrested for trespassing.
(Soulforce demonstration at GA. Photo by Erin Dunigan.)
I wish I had been there. I have been watching the proceedings on livestream and tweeting along with other members of the Peanut Gallery Advisory Delegation (those twittering with the #ga219 hashtag). But it is hard to get a feel for the mood when you are not physically present.
by Guest Author
Antony at I, Too, Sing posted a blog about our actions at the 2010 Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly. Below is an excerpt. Be sure to read the full version at his blog.
As Minneapolis police completed arresting Soulforce protesters on the floor of General Assembly, I spoke with two commissioners on my way off the plenary floor. As a press person at the General Assembly, I had filmed the whole direct action. The first commissioner grabbed my arm and asked, “Who are those people?” I explained to him that Soulforce was an organization that used the nonviolence taught by Ghandi and King to stop spiritual violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. He replied, “Maybe we should show them some violence, then we’ll see if they stay nonviolent.” I explained to him that both Ghandi and King had also experienced violence for their stand for justice.
Read the full post at I, Too, Sing
by Guest Author
This article is by Gil Caldwell, a retired United Methodist minister and member of Soulforce’s Advisory Board. He was active in the Massachusetts unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and participated in the civil-rights movement throughout the nation.
As I read with great enthusiasm the Associated Press story; “Presbyterians leaders Approve Gay Clergy Policies”, I was pleased to read a quote from Cindi Love the Executive Director of Soulforce. She said; “Stay Current”. Karl Barth said, “The Christian lives life with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” It is encouraging that the Presbyterians chose to live in the present for the future, rather than seeking to retreat to a past that was noted not only for its exclusion of gay clergy, but also for its exclusion and separation of persons because they were black, and/or because they were women.
Dr. Love also said to the Presbyterians, “Enter the next generation”. I am often amused that so many persons who pride themselves on being technologically current and future oriented, see no contradiction in their holding on to traditiions, practices and attitudes that belong to “back in the day”, that are “old school” and are generationally challenged.