Reversing a vote from only two years ago that banned the ordination of gay and lesbian ministers, deacons and elders, the United States Presbyterian Church has voted 206 to 56 in favor of allowing gays to get their LGBTMinister on.
And by Church, we’re talking the national association of churches practicing this particular brand of Christianity – about 2 million parishioners in total.
Cynthia Bolbach, moderator of the church’s General Assembly, its highest legislative body, said in a phone interview from Minneapolis after the vote: “Everyone was civil. There was no applause, no cheering. It was just reflective of the fact that we are moving forward one other step.”
Although by the time the vote was taken in Minneapolis the outcome was expected, Presbyterian church officials said that even a few months ago they would not have predicted that the church was ready to change its policy.
“All of us are surprised,” said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, the church’s stated clerk, its highest elected official. He attributed the turnabout in the votes to both the growing acceptance of homosexuality in the larger culture, and to church members simply wearying of the conflict.
“We’ve been having this conversation for 33 years, and some people are ready to get to the other side of this decision,” he said. “Some people are going to celebrate this day because they’ve worked for it for a long time, and some people will mourn this day because they think it’s a totally different understanding of Scripture than they have.”
This vote hardly puts an end to the ideological conflict at the heart of the matter. 100 congregations have left the Presbyterian Church over the past five years largely due to this matter. Even now, some members are calling for the formation of a more conservative church within the church.
We think it’s fantastic that the Presbyterian Church has taken a leap in the direction of equality, love, and acceptance. Jesus hung around with prostitutes, lepers, and the poor – homeboy wasn’t one to judge. So why should those who worship in his name?
And on a completely personal note, maybe my Presbyterian mother will stop being such a total asshole about me being gay. Zing!