Presbyterian Church Poised to Ordain Gays
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran group in the country, liberalized its policy toward gay clergy two years ago. The United Church of Christ started ordaining openly gay clergy in 1972, and more recently endorsed same-sex marriage.
The nation's largest mainline group, the United Methodist Church, which has just under 8 million U.S. members, has moved in the opposite direction on gay issues and is expected to retain its celibacy mandate for unmarried clergy.
The proposal before the Presbyterians would eliminate language in the church constitution requiring that clergy live "in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness." The new provision would instead require ministers to "submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life." Each regional body would decide who it should ordain.
Similar amendments have been rejected by the presbyteries in three separate votes since 1998. However, in the latest round of voting, 19 presbyteriesswitched their vote in favor of ordaining openly gay and lesbian candidates for ministry. Before the Twin Cities balloting on Tuesday, the national tally stood at 86-62.
The new policy would take effect on July 10, after all presbyteries complete their voting.