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.