This summer, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will lift its ban on gay clergy, but a church leader says the move is not a step toward recognizing same-sex marriage.
The church’s council approved the change last year, but it took until yesterday for a majority of the regional governing bodies, called presbyteries, to approve the change. Cynthia Bolbach is a church elder and the moderator of the general assembly. She says when the national council discussed changing the ordination rules, it also considered same-sex marriage.
“It was decided that we simply weren’t at the point where we wanted to consider whether we wanted to approve same-sex marriage. It’s been asked that the church study the issue, but I think that’s a different issue than the issue regarding ordination standards,” she says.
Bolbach says the PCUSA is a progressive institution, since rule changes are regularly considered, but not all presbyteries are the same.
“I think that would be a long process. It’s been a long process for women to become fully accepted within the church. I think even now, there are places where, if you’re a woman pastor, you know you shouldn’t even try to go,” she says.
Not all presbyteries are required to consider gay and lesbian candidates for ordination, but Bolbach says the number that do not will likely diminish as social attitudes change.
“You know, we recognize we are still divided in the church about the ordination of gays and lesbians. A decision has been made, but we are not of one mind,” she says.