The website of the Presbyterian Church USA reports that there will be no change in the denomination’s policy regarding gay clergy. The official policy mandates “that church officers live in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness. An amendment to change this policy was defeated, but in a closer vote than in the recent past, and the trend may be the biggest news.
The next big battleground will be the ELCA convention in Mpls this summer.
LOUISVILLE ― Though the formal results await certification by the Office of the General Assembly, all unofficial tallies show that Amendment B — which would replace the current Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) constitutional requirement that church officers live in “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness” with a new section G-6.0106b of The Book of Order — has been defeated.
After voting on Saturday, April 25, the count is 69 presbyteries in favor with 88 opposed — one more than the majority of 87 out of 173 presbyteries required to decide the matter.
Last year’s 218th General Assembly proposed the amendment, which would replace the commonly-called “fidelity and chastity” clause with new language: “Those who are called to ordained service in the church, by their assent to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003), pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church, striving to follow where he leads through the witness of the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions. In so doing, they declare their fidelity to the standards of the Church. Each governing body charged with examination for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240 and G-14.0450) establishes the candidate’s sincere efforts to adhere to these standards.”
The “fidelity and chastity” provision was added to the Book of Order in voting following the 1996 General Assembly. Two subsequent proposals to delete it have failed in presbytery voting ― following the 1997 Assembly by a vote of 57-114 and following the 2001 Assembly by a vote of 46-127.
The vote is much closer this year.
Twenty-seven of the 127 presbyteries that voted “No” in 2001-2002 — plus Western New York Presbytery, which voted to take “no action” last time — have voted in favor of this year’s amendment.
Two presbyteries that voted “Yes” last time — San Francisco and Sierra Blanca — have switched to a “No” this year.
One presbytery — Midwest Hanmi — is under the jurisdiction of an administrative commission of the Synod of Lincoln Trails and is not expected to vote.
If the remaining 16 presbyteries vote the same way they did in 2001-2002, the final tally would be 74-98 (with Midwest Hanmi not voting). Presbyteries have until June 28 of this year to vote.
The unofficial tally to date:
For (69): Albany, Arkansas, Baltimore, Boston, Cascades, Cayuga-Syracuse, Charlotte, Chicago, Cimarron, de Cristo, Denver, Des Moines, East Tennessee, Eastern Oregon, Eastminster, Elizabeth, Genesee Valley, Geneva, Giddings-Lovejoy, Grace, Grand Canyon, Great Rivers, Greater Atlanta, Heartland, Hudson River, John Knox, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Long Island, Mackinac, Maumee Valley, Miami Valley, Mid-Kentucky, Milwaukee, Monmouth, National Capital, New Brunswick, New Castle, New Hope, New York City, Newark, Newton, Northern Kansas, Northern New England, Northern New York, Ohio Valley, Palisades, Philadelphia, Redwoods, Salem, San Jose, Santa Fe, Scioto Valley, Sheppards & Lapsley, Southeastern Illinois, Susquehanna Valley, Transylvania, Tres Rios, Twin Cities Area, Utica, Wabash Valley, West Jersey, West Virginia, Western New York, Western North Carolina, Western Reserve, Whitewater Valley, Winnebago, Yellowstone.
Against (88): Abingdon, Alaska, Atlantic Korean, Beaver-Butler, Blackhawk, Boise, Carlisle, Central Florida, Central Nebraska (tie), Central Washington, Charleston–Atlantic, Cherokee, Cincinnati (tie), Coastal Carolina, Donegal, Eastern Korean, Eastern Oklahoma, Eastern Virginia, Flint River, Florida, Foothills, Glacier, Hanmi, Holston, Homestead, Huntingdon, Indian Nations, Inland Northwest, James, John Calvin, Kendall, Lackawanna, Lake Erie, Los Ranchos, Mid-South, Mission (tie), Mississippi, Missouri Union, Muskingum Valley, Nevada, New Covenant, New Harmony, North Alabama, North Central Iowa, North Puget Sound, Northeast Georgia, Northern Plains, Northumberland, Olympia, Palo Duro, Peace River, Peaks, Pines, Pittsburgh, Plains and Peaks, Prospect Hill, Providence, Pueblo, Redstone, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Fernando, San Francisco, San Gabriel, San Joaquin, San Juan, Santa Barbara, Seattle, Shenandoah, Shenango, Sierra Blanca, South Alabama, South Dakota, South Louisiana, Southern Kansas, St. Andrew, St. Augustine, Stockton, Tampa Bay, Trinity, Tropical Florida, Upper Ohio Valley, Washington, Western Colorado, Western Kentucky, Wyoming, Yukon.
Not expected to vote (1): Midwest Hanmi
“No” last time, “Yes” this year (28): Arkansas, Charlotte, Cimarron, East Tennessee, Eastminster, Grace, Great Rivers, Greater Atlanta, Lake Huron, Mackinac, Maumee Valley, New Hope, Newark, Ohio Valley, Philadelphia, Salem, Scioto Valley, Sheppards & Lapsley, Southeastern Illinois, Transylvania, Tres Rios, Wabash Valley, West Jersey, West Virginia, Western New York (“no action” last time), Western North Carolina, Whitewater Valley, Yellowstone.
“Yes” last time, “No” this year (2): San Francisco, Sierra Blanca.