Category Archives: Homosexuality

Presbyterian Church USA Votes to Allow Gay Marriage

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted on Thursday, June 19, to allow clergy to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.

Pastors who do not wish to perform same-sex marriages would not be required to, but those who live in states where gay marriage is already legal are now permitted to officiate them.

In a similar move, the General Assembly also passed a constitutional amendment which would redefine marriage from between “a man and a woman” to “marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and woman.”

This amendment still has to be voted on and approved by a majority of the church’s presbyteries before it becomes official, but given the percentage by which it passed the assembly, approval by the presbyteries seems likely.

According to news reports, the pastor resolution permitting same-sex weddings passed by a vote of 371 to 238 and the marriage amendment passed by a vote of 429 to 175.

This is a significant change from previous years where the measures failed by fairly close margins. Many speculate that the difference this year was the departure of so many traditionalist congregations since the last General Assembly.

You can read the Christian Post article here, and the Religion News Service article here.

As a United Methodist, I see this and can’t help but wonder:  Is this the future of the United Methodist Church?

On the one hand, the pastor resolution permitting same-sex weddings seems very similar to what Adam Hamilton has proposed in A Way Forward.

This certainly looks like a “local option” legislation. Pastors who feel compelled to officiate same-sex weddings are permitted to do so, while those who would prefer not to are not required to do so. Each pastor and church would have to make its own local decision as to what they would do.

On the other hand, I can’t help but note what it took to get there: All the conservatives had to leave.

One cannot help but see the steady stream of traditionalist pastors and churches leaving the denomination. The Presbyterian Church (USA) is in a precipitous decline. Their numbers are plummeting.

Perhaps these legislative moves will change that, but I’m not so sure. It hasn’t for the Episcopal Church. It hasn’t for the United Church of Christ. And it hasn’t for several others. Why should it be different here?

So, is this what the United Methodist Church has to look forward to?

If so, I am not encouraged. Perhaps amicable separation wouldn’t be so bad, after all.

 

 

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Suspended: U.S. Episcopal Church Sanctions

In a surprising move, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams has actually sanctioned the U.S. Episcopal Church. You can read the full article here.

In part, the article says:

The Episcopal Church in the United States has been suspended from participating in ecumenical dialogues in which the Anglican Communion is formally engaged, according to an announcement Monday.

The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, said he sent the U.S. body letters informing them that “their membership of these dialogues has been discontinued.”

It’s an interesting move for the Archbishop. On the one hand, it’s not much of a sanction. The US Episcopal Church can’t take part in an ecumenical dialogue. So what? It’s not like they’ve been barred from voting in the next general conference of the Anglican Church.

Though, there is apparently an Inter-Anglican Commission on Unity, Faith, and Order that they no longer have a voting representation on. The Episcopal representative has been downgraded to a consultant only.

Still, it’s not a lot. It’s not a heavy-handed sanction. It’s not a definitive rebuke, which is what many in the wider Anglican Communion really want.

All the same, it is something. And it’s a whole lot more than most of us thought the Archbishop would ever do. Dr. Williams has been notoriously indecisive and noncommittal about this issue from the very start.

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