Earlier this month, The Presbyterian Church (USA) became the latest mainline denomination to formally vote to accept the ministry of LGBT Christians, including those in relationships.
The nationwide church of over 2m members had approved the change at its General Assembly last year, but that vote had to be confirmed by a majority of its regional Presbyteries before it could be enacted. This majority was achieved in Minneapolis on the 10th May.
In making the change, the Presbyterian Church joins a growing number of mainline denominations in welcoming the ministry of openly gay people. These churches include:The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America The Episcopal Church (Anglican) in the USA The United Church of Christ (USA) The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden The Church of Norway The Evangelical Church of Denmark
Although ‘Evangelical’ in this context often means ‘Protestant’ (ie not Roman Catholic) there are prominent evangelical supporters of such changes including Jack Rogers in the Presbyterian Church. Jack Rogers is a former Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and he describes his own journey from active opposition in his book, ‘Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality’ as well as charting a biblical theology for accepting and celebrating same-sex relationships.
The change is not without controversy however, and the debate will continue to evoke strong feelings among both progressive and conservative parts of the denomination. The new openness is also permissive rather than compulsory. Local congregations will continue to appoint deacons, elders and ministers themselves, and more conservative congregations are almost certain to choose candidates who will follow a more conservative line – but the blanket ban on openly gay ministers has been removed.
For more information, views and reflections, please see…The Presbyterian Church website’s announcement: http://www.pcusa.org/news/2011/5/10/presbyterian-church-us-approves-change-ordination/ A well considered reflection by a Presbyterian Minister: Is LGBTQ Ordination a Change or a Challenge for the Presbyterian Church (USA)? Benny’s Blog – A good day in Minneapolis