Last night San Fransisco Presbytery approved the ordination of Abigail Kaiser to Minister of Word and Sacrament. It wasn't unanimous, and that itself is worthy of congratulations.
She has taken a stand. Ministry is about taking stands that are not popular with everyone. She didn't have to do what she did. She is in a heterosexual marriage but declared a departure anyway from G-6.0106busybody even though this paragraph would not target her.
Because of my fidelity to Scripture, obedience to Christ, because of the way I take the Confessions seriously and authoritatively, and because I am deeply invested in the peace, unity, and purity of the church, I declare a departure in belief from G 6.0106b and its being singled out as the only paragraph in the Book of Order with which “compliance” is required for ordination.Going through the hoops for ordination are no picnic to begin with so to declare a scruple you don't have to declare on behalf of simple fairness and decency is rare and needs to be applauded. She wrote a powerful statement that I hope all will take the time to read. It was printed in the report of the Committee On Ministry. You will also find the committee's process for recommending her for ordination (again, not unanimous).
Here is how she begins her statement:
The summer after my freshman year of high school, sweat pouring down my face in humid, Midwestern heat and up to my elbows in dirt, I wrestled with my leadership in the church. Planting flowers alongside my youth group leader at the church where I was baptized, I felt torn between my leadership in extra-curricular justice based activities and church activities. I was a part of my high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, one of the first in our city. It had only been started within the last year, and I had been invited to be a Co-President. I felt unprepared for the opportunity but honored to be asked. I was amazed that the upperclassman made a point of consciously involving and developing younger leadership. However, I was also a leader in my church’s youth group. I knew that most of the members of my church believed that homosexuality was a sin. My youth group leader told me, that day covered in dirt and sweat, I could not be a leader in both communities. If I chose to be a leader in the Gay-Straight Alliance, I could not be a leader in my youth group. I wrestled with how to keep my faith and my integrity intact, and gradually stopped going to youth group, unable to reconcile my faith with exclusion of the GLBTQ community.Sadly, that is too common a story. But Abby's is different too. She didn't give up on her commitment to the GLBTQ community and she didn't give up on the church.
This is the same church where I was under care and where I hope to be ordained. Many people there still believe homosexuality is a sin and many support same-sex marriage, seeking the full inclusion of the GLBTQ community in the church. It is a congregation that lives well together, despite their disagreements. It took me years of spiritual growth and discernment for me to be able to return to this congregation, but, they exemplify what I have grown to love about being Presbyterian. We will never solve all our theological squabbles, but we can live together, healthily, anyway.She will be an agent of change within the church.
By the way, Abby is also a blogger. Visit her at Abby King Kaiser.
We need to remove G-6.0106b at this General Assembly and give it a fond farewell one presbytery vote after another in the coming year. But until this blasphemy is removed from the Book of Order, we will need straight allies like [soon to be Rev.] Kaiser to take risks and to be outspoken, articulate, and passionate.
Kudos Abby! Congratulations and thank you!
May your ministry never be unanimous!