Gays in the Presbyterian Church

The nation’s Presbyterians are meeting in Minneapolis this week and just as the nation’s Lutherans did here last summer, they’re wrestling with the question of the role of gays in the clergy. But they’re getting far less local attention even though the Presbyterians would be the largest denomination in the nation to allow same-sex marriage.

A committee has approved changing the definition of marriage in the Directory for Worship from “a woman and a man” to “two people.”

According to a release from the conference:

Advocating for changing the church’s language of who may marry, Laura Marsh, an elder from East Iowa Presbytery, said her church, First Presbyterian of Iowa City, decided that “until we are allowed to marry everybody, we aren’t going to marry anybody. Is everybody happy? No. But there’s been no mass exodus, and we didn’t implode. But we’re urgently asking you to act.”

Committee member the Rev. Marion Haynes-Weller of Donegal Presbytery called herself “a pastor of one of those small rural congregations we seem to be worried about. We are in a very conservative community but it’s a congregation committed to welcoming (gay) members who are impatient with our lack of solidarity in standing with them.”

The Presbyterians are also considering whether non-celibate gays should serve in the clergy.

Current church rules state that “church officers must be faithful in marriage between a man and a woman or chaste in singleness.” But new wording, approved by a committee this week removes references of sexual ethics and instead requires church governing bodies to judge candidates for the clergy based on “calling, gifts, preparation and suitability.”

You can watch the debate live here.