Presbyterian Church (USA) Votes to Allow Pastors to Perform Homosexual Weddings; Change ‘Book of Order’ Marriage Language to “Two Persons”

Rifat Kassis addresses the 221st Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly in Detroit, Mich., on June 19. RNS photo courtesy Michael Whitman via PC(USA)
Rifat Kassis addresses the 221st Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly in Detroit, Mich., on June 19. RNS photo courtesy Michael Whitman via PC(USA)

The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted Thursday (June 19) to allow gay and lesbian weddings within the church, making it among the largest Christian denominations to take an embracing step toward same-sex marriage.

By a 76-24 percent vote, the General Assembly of the 1.8 million-member PCUSA voted to allow pastors to perform gay marriages in states where they are legal. Delegates, meeting in Detroit this week, also approved new language about marriage in the church’s Book of Order, or constitution, altering references to “a man and woman” to “two persons.”

This change will not become church law until a majority of the 172 regional presbyteries vote to ratify the new language. But given the lopsided 3-1 ratio of the vote, approval is expected.

Gay rights activists within the church rejoiced at their victory, which was remarkable for its margin of victory after multiple years of razor-thin defeats.

“This vote is an answer to many prayers for the church to recognize love between committed same-sex couples,” said Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, a group that has led the fight for gay marriage within the church.

The vote came after an emotional but polite debate in which opponents of the motion said it conflicted with Scripture and would cause Presbyterian churches abroad to break relations with the PCUSA.

The Presbyterian Lay Committee, which opposes gay marriage, urged congregations to launch a financial boycott out of protest.

“The Presbyterian Lay Committee mourns these actions and calls on all Presbyterians to resist and protest them,” the group said in a statement. ” … You should refuse to fund the General Assembly, your synod, your presbytery and even your local church if those bodies have not explicitly and publicly repudiated these unbiblical actions.”

“God will not be mocked,” the statement continued, “and those who substitute their own felt desires for God’s unchangeable Truth will not be found guiltless before a holy God.”

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SOURCE: Religion News Service
Lauren Markoe

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