US Presbyterians Vote to Allow Homosexual Clergy

Wed Jun 21, 2006 - 12:15 pm EST

By John Jalsevac

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., June 21, 2006 ( – The future of anotherÂChristian denominationÂis uncertain after it yesterdayÂcame face to face with the issue that is challenging the unity of Christian denominations the world over—homosexuality.

Yesterday the United States Presbyterian national assembly voted in new legislation that gives local bodies the power to allow homosexual clergy.ÂIn an attempt to create a compromise that would satisfy both liberal and conservative factions the church also voted to uphold a 1997 national church law that limits sexual relations for clergy to marriage between a man and a woman.

Members of the Presbyterian ChurchÂwho believe the Bible explicitly forbids homosexual relations, however, are not convinced that the“compromise” is satisfactory since the practical effect is that homosexuals may in factÂlawfully become clergy, even if the national assembly or the church’s constitutuion don’t explicitly condone or accept it.

“When the constitution is set aside and something mandatory is reduced to something optional, it destroys the constitution,” said Robert Gagnon, a New Testament professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.ÂÂ

In response to the new legislation thirteen caucuses issued a statement, saying that the assembly’s decision throws “our denomination into crisis,” reports the Washington Times. They continued, saying the new legislation “marks a profound deviation from biblical requirements, and we cannot accept, support, or tolerate it. We will take the steps necessary to be faithful to God.” The statement did notÂlist what those steps would be.

The debate within the Presbyterian Church has been ongoing for almost thirty years, with the first ban on gay ordination being approved in 1978, and with several attempts being madeÂin the intermediary to overturn the ban. During the debates leading up to the contentious vote former assemblyÂmoderator Marj Carpenter called on the assembly to approve the regulations granting autonomy in the matter of homosexual clergy to local bodies, saying that she and the churchÂare “worn out with this 28-year fight,” reports the Courier-Journal.

Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, chief executive at denominational headquarters admitted, referringÂin particular to the contentiousÂissue of homosexual clergy, that “We have been painfully aware that in some ways our greatest challenge was not preparing for this assembly but preparing for what happens after this assembly.”

“We used to act as one church,” lamented one pastor. “Now we’ll have 11,000 churches ... chaos,” he said.

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