Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

B Stings

For those who were holding out to the last breathless vote, you can breathe now. Amendment B has failed. Northern Plains, Boise, and Sierra Blanca all voted no on Saturday. Presbytery de Cristo voted yes.

69 presbyteries in favor of equality. 89 presbyteries for discrimination and injustice. (And you can call it any damn thing you please, but that is what it is).

The voting is not over. A number of presbyteries are still scheduled to vote. It is important that allies hold this vote. When we look back on the scoring of how presbyteries voted, it won't matter if presbyteries voted before or after. So it is over, but it isn't over. We are now playing for pride, witness, and the future.

Here is a reflection from Michael Adee of More Light Presbyterians:

In what has been a much closer situation than in 2002, 2 oppositional votes today meant defeat for the national ratification of 08-B. However, the good news is that 69 presbyteries have voted in favor with 14 presbyteries yet to vote. The final tally of support for policy change in 2002 was 42. It is important to recognize that 110 presbyteries out of the 155 presbyteries that have voted thus far demonstrate pro-LGBT equality shifts....

The trends are clear: the Presbyterian Church (USA) is remarkably close to removing the barriers so that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people can faithfully answer God's call to serve. The witness of this ratification process across the country indicates without a doubt that a growing number of Presbyterians believe that LGBT persons and their families should have the same opportunities and responsibilities of full participation, membership and ordained service in our Church offered to their heterosexual sisters and brothers.
The day after the 87th vote was taken an overture was sent to presbytery en route to the 2010 General Assembly. Here is a news release from Northside Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan:

Ann Arbor, MI – Today, Northside Presbyterian Church, a congregation in the Presbyterian Church (USA), proposed a new amendment to the denomination’s constitution that would allow the ordination of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) members. This action was taken as a response to the narrow defeat of a similar proposed change that the denomination has been debating during the past year. Northside’s new proposed amendment would allow the ordination of anyone in the denomination whom God has called, regardless of sexual orientation.

Today, a majority of presbyteries, the local governing bodies of the PC(USA), considered, but by a razor-thin margin failed to ratify, a similar amendment to Part II of the denomination’s constitution, The Book of Order. This was the third such vote in the past 12 years. In contrast to those previous votes, this year an unprecedented number of presbyteries reversed their positions and now stand for justice and inclusion for their LGBT members. In spite of today’s setback, with such powerful momentum building for equality in the denomination, Northside Presbyterian believes it is imperative that the struggle for full inclusion in the life and ministry of the PC(USA) continue without delay and so proposes this new amendment.

“We are seeing something today akin to what happened in our denomination in the 1950s with the ordination of women,” said Brian Spolarich, Elder and Clerk of the Session, the governing body of the congregation. “It took over a decade of organizing, and multiple votes for our denomination to get it right, but in the end we recognized the Holy Spirit leading us to draw the circle of leadership more broadly, not more narrowly. I have faith that we will eventually get this one right, too.”

The new proposed amendment will go to the Presbytery of Detroit for action. If approved, it will be sent to the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) for action in 2010. Then, if approved by the General Assembly, the amendment would require approval from a majority of the 173 presbyteries in order to be ratified.

About Northside Presbyterian Church:

Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we are a small, dynamic congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Celebrating our 50th anniversary this year, we attract a diverse membership from all over Southeastern Michigan. In our denomination, the PC(USA), Northside Presbyterian Church takes a stand as a More Light congregation, affirming and celebrating the Spirit’s marvelous gift of diversity in ministry and ordained leadership, welcoming all sexual orientations and gender identities. Find out more about our faith community on our web site, www.NorthsidePres.org.

About More Light Presbyterians:

More Light Presbyterians, the oldest gay rights group in the 2.3 million member Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), works for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the PCUSA. Web site: www.mlp.org

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