Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Same-Sex Marriage Recommendations

The Presbyterian Church USA would become the largest denomination in the nation to allow same-sex marriage if the recommendations from the Civil Unions & Marriage Committee are approved, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.
The Louisville-based Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) would become the largest denomination in the nation to allow same-sex marriage if it follows a recommendation made Tuesday by a church legislative committee.

And another church committee, gathering for the church's weeklong legislative General Assembly in Minneapolis, recommended the church begin ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians.

The assembly's committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues voted 34-18 to change the definition of marriage in the church constitution to describe marriage as a covenant between "two people" rather than between "a man and a woman."

This "would recognize committed, lifelong relationships that are already being lived out by our members," said a committee statement.
The Presbyterian News Service provided detailed reporting on the Civil Unions & Marriage Committee:
The Committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues voted Tuesday (34-18-2) to recommend to the full Assembly changing the definition of marriage in the Directory for Worship from “a woman and a man” to “two people.”

Heeding the advice of the Advisory Committee on the Constitution, the committee agreed to replace “couple” with “two people” because, according to Advisory Committee on the Constitution representative Catherine McDonald, “couple” in some languages “automatically translates as husband and wife.”

The committee also recommended approving an Authoritative Interpretation that gives ministers of the Word and Sacrament and commissioned lay pastors discretion over which marriage services they'll perform. Sessions may refuse the use of church property for wedding ceremonies of which they don’t approve.

An Authoritative Interpretation requires no approval by presbyteries and does not amend the church’s constitution. If it’s approved this week in plenary session, it becomes effective immediately.

The other nine overtures the committee considered Tuesday were either not approved or were similar enough to the two recommended overtures that they were considered by the committee to be “answered” by those overtures.

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.”

Young Adult Advisory Delegate Paige Eubanks of Mid-South Presbytery said “My fear is that if we open up Scripture to interpretation, we compromise purity, we become susceptible to deception and this body, my family, will disintegrate.”

1 comment:

Obie said...

Keep the momentum going!

Don't mean to be a quibbler, but my own ELCA, which is twice as large as the PCUSA, voted in these very halls less than a year ago to "recognize and support" persons in same-gender, committed relationships and to develop appropriate means to do so. True, "recognize and support" isn't quite the same as using the word "marriage", but it's close, and most ELCA observers, pro and con, saw the resolution as coming to the brink of gay marriage if not actually taking the leap of faith.

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