Will The Presbyterian Church Finally Recognize The Calling of Gays?

presbyterian-crossTwo years ago, the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA) voted on a constitutional amendment that would have allowed LGB persons to be pastors, reversing language added in 1996 that specifically removed LGBs from consideration.

Amendment 08-B ultimately failed to garner enough votes among the presbyteries, though with a far slimmer margin than when the issue was up for a vote in 2002.

Now it’s time to give it another shot. The presbyteries are again voting on an amendment for the same purpose, this time with Amendment 10-A. (More Light Presbyterians, which has been leading the fight for years now, has the verbiage and more specific information. Also, I’ll be using the term LGB because trans ministers seem to be permitted already.)

For our purposes here, it’s most important to understand that under the current rules in place since 1996, a local PCUSA congregation is not permitted to appoint an openly LGB pastor. Amendment 10-A would not force any local congregation to accept an LGB minister if they didn’t want to, but would permit a congregation to elect an LGB minister if they wanted.

In short, this amendment restores choice to the local congregation, which is much more in keeping with the way the PCUSA church generally operates.

Presbyteries have been voting for several months now, and the outlook is better than it was in 2009. Rev. John Shuck has been tracking the vote, and as he said last week:

…we need only seven more YESes to make a significant step in healing the church.

  • We have had 16 positive flips.
  • We have had 2 negative switches.
  • So that means 14 net flips.
  • 35 presbyteries are yet to vote. [ed: One has since voted NO]
  • 12 of those had voted YES last time.
  • We are in good shape.
  • But there is a lot of work to do.

Very good news, indeed. As Rev. Shuck says, passage isn’t a sure thing and it won’t be until voting ends in late May, but they are cautiously optimistic. For more specific and regularly updated voting data, see More Light’s chart here.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for developments on Amendment 10-A for the next few weeks, but until we get the final counts, here’s Presbyterian minister Mark Sandlin explaining just one of the more salient reasons for a YES vote in a brief excerpt from his blog The God Article:

At some point, those who stand against ordaining people whose sexual orientation happens to be homosexual are going to have to admit that they believe two things that most of the rest of the Christian community do not see as core values in the teachings of Jesus: 1) that God’s love comes in degrees; that God loves some people more than others; that if you are gay you are less worthy of that love and hence less capable of being called into ministry and 2) they personally know better than the individual who feels called into ministry whether or not God is actually calling them into ministry.

Thanks to reader and ally Greg for pointing me to the new amendment!