The good news: Following up on the ELCA story below, I discovered that the north-central Alabama Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley (PCUSA) voted 77-75 yesterday to drop language requiring clergy to be faithful in marriage and celibate if single. This language was not some long-venerated tradition; it was added in 1997 with the clear intent of barring gay and lesbian clergy. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to see Alabamians on the forefront of progress for once.
At the general assembly in Birmingham in 2006, the denomination passed an authoritative interpretation of the constitution that allowed more leeway for presbyteries in ordaining practicing homosexuals. A church court ruled against that interpretation, and the national general assembly in 2008 again proposed changing the constitution to amend the “fidelity and chastity” standard. It’s the denomination’s fourth referendum on the “fidelity and chastity” requirement in the Book of Order.
The bad news: Each of the 173 presbyteries in the US must vote on the proposal, and it’s currently losing.
So far, the national vote is 39-24 against changing the language, according to a running count of presbytery votes kept by the conservative publication The Presbyterian Layman at www.layman.org. [Y’all will be stunned, just stunned to know that The Presbyterian Layman is an arm of the deliberately mis-named Institute for Religion and “Democracy”.]
And, no surprise here, the comments on yesterday’s al.com Breaking News report are heinous. Yes, I know — I should never go there. It makes me despair for the future of the human race.