Presbyterians Celebrate San Francisco Presbytery Vote in Support of Allowing Gay Clergy
Our friends at More Light Presbyterians write in with the following update.
All across the United States, Presbyterians have been voting in each of the 173 regional presbyteries to determine whether or not the Presbyterian Church (USA) will drop the ban on gay clergy. The yes vote in San Francisco on Tuesday, April 12, puts the denomination seven votes away from the simple majority required to enact this historic change. But contrary to public opinion, San Francisco Presbytery was not necessarily expected to vote yes.
“While San Francisco has often led in equality in civil society, the San Francisco presbytery did not always vote to support LGBT people in ministry. But here, and in places like Oklahoma, Alabama and Georgia, we are seeing changed hearts. We believe God’s Spirit is at work as more people are understanding that faith and character are more important considerations for ministry than one’s marital status or sexuality,” said Michael Adee, executive director of More Light Presbyterians.
The 198-143 vote on Tuesday, moves the Presbyterian Church one step closer to joining the millions of people in three other major Protestant denominations that accept ministers based on their skills and qualifications rather than who they marry or chose as a life partner.
The nationwide vote to garner a majority of the 173 regional presbyteries began after their national legislative body meeting in July of 2010 in Minneapolis. For the fourth time, leaders at the General Assembly voted to eliminate the requirement of “fidelity in marriage or chastity in singleness” which has been a barrier used against gay clergy. Previously the amendments did not pass; but each time more and more support was recorded in the presbyteries. Today, with 35 presbyteries left to vote, only seven more “Yes” votes are required for the amendment to pass. Supporters are hopeful that the 51% required votes will be reached by the middle of May.
“This amazing support for amendment10-A reveals that Presbyterians want to return to the historic Presbyterian way of selecting officers to serve in the Church. Local governing bodies can more effectively discern the gifts and qualifications of ministers, elders and deacons. Our Church and world will benefit from the service of LGBT persons as we learned when we removed the barriers to women serving in the Church,” said the Rev. Dr. Janet Edwards, co-moderator of More Light Presbyterians.