Presbyterian Church Drops Ban on Gay Clergy

by Gabe Bullard on May 10, 2011

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will soon allow the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy members.

A majority of the denomination’s regional governing bodies–which are called presbyteries–have agreed to lift the requirement that unmarried clergy remain celibate, which was previously part of the church’s constitution.

The change was approved by the church’s national assembly last year, but such decisions must be ratified by a majority of the 173 presbyteries. The deciding vote came from the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area in Minnesota Tuesday night.

The church’s leadership released a statement on the change, saying “some members will rejoice while others will weep.” More than 60 presbyteries oppose the change, including the western Kentucky body (which does not include Louisville). Some presbyteries may continue to reject gay clergy.

In the same statement, church officials offered explanations for why most congregations now approve of the change. They include increased tolerance for same-sex relationships, a desire among parishioners to move on from the years-old debate and the fact that some conservative congregations have left the church.

The change takes effect July 10. Other mainline Protestant churches to loosen restrictions on same-sex relationships and gay clergy include the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

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