Monday, June 22, 2009

PCUSA Still Trying to Find a Way to Gain Acceptance for Gay Clergy

As a long time member of the denominational church scene, I have observed two trends that are true-- at least in the world(s) I move (have moved) in. These trends are as follows:
  1. Clergy are generally more theologically progressive than the laity (I speak as one of the club-- the progressive clergy club).
  2. Church judicatories (i.e. general assemblies, synods, presbyteries, and church boards/sessions) follow a declining line of "liberal thought and practice"-- generally in the order listed.
All of this brings me to the third attempt in the last 12 years to see the PSUSA's position concerning "fidelity and chastity," a position that explicitly bars gay clergy, or at least gay clergy engaging in homosexual practice, from ordination and ordained ministry.

The move to rescind the church directive passed the PCUSA General Assembly, but required a vote of at least 87 of its 173 presbyteries to become policy. The move garnered only 69 presbyterial votes.

Terry Schlossberg of the conservative Presbyterian Coalition hailed the vote as a victory for Mom, apple pie, and God Almighty. He states: "It is well past time to acknowledge that the church today, as through history, knows her mind on this matter, and that is the mind of Christ."

But, hold on Terry! I'm not so sure. Twenty-eight presbyteries changed their vote from "no" to "yes" since the 2001 vote, while only 2 presbyteries seem to have caught the "mind of Christ on this one," going from "yes" to "no" (strangely including San Francisco Presbytery).

So, what will happen in the continuing saga of the PCUSA and gay clergy? Stalemate? Will all the anti gay folks just leave (they are hemorrhaging members)? Will the "pro gay folks get fed up and leave?" Or will they all find some common ground? Time will tell.

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