LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A majority has been reached in the regional presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (USA), which have been voting for the past several months on whether to ratify a vote taken by the General Assembly and regional delegates last year to change the definition of marriage in its law book and to allow ministers to perform same-sex “marriages” in states where the practice is legal.
“With today’s presbytery votes, a majority of the 171 presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (USA) have approved an amendment to the church’s Book of Order that describes marriage as ‘a unique relationship between two people, traditionally a man and a woman,'” the Covenant Network of Presbyterians said in a statement on Tuesday.
As previously reported, last June, the General Assembly of PCUSA, headquarted in Louisville, Kentucky, voted 76-24 to allow licensed ministers to officiate such ceremonies. Delegates within the denomination also approved a proposal to change language in the PCUSA Book of Order to redefine marriage from being a union between “a man and woman” to rather only “two persons.”
But the change was not to become official until its 172 regional presbyteries across the country voted on the matter. A majority was needed for ratification. As voting has been incremental over a period of several months, regional presbyteries have been casting their ballot at various meeting times throughout the fall and winter.
On Tuesday, the 86th presbytery, The Presbytery of the Palisades of Fair Lawn, N.J., voted in favor of the proposal, marking the majority needed to ratify the change. Other presbyteries casting yes votes include Philadelphia 207-131, Seattle 111-93, West Virginia 92-44, South Louisiana 53-20, Middle Tennessee 92-84 and Chicago 179-60.
“Finally, the church in its constitutional documents fully recognizes that the love of gays and lesbian couples is worth celebrating in the faith community,” Brian Ellison, executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, told the New York Times.
But over 40 presbyteries have also voted against the change, including Central Florida 75-92, Minnesota Valleys 39-42, Mississippi 9-27, South Alabama 22-34, Wyoming 21-22 and South Dakota 29-32.
The Presbyterian Lay Committee has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the proposal.
“In terms of the PCUSA’s witness to the world, this vote demonstrates a complete accommodation to the prevailing winds of our culture,” said President Carmen Fowler LaBerge in a statement on Tuesday. “Any prophetic voice that the denomination may have once had to speak truth and call people to repentance is now lost. All she can do now is echo the voices of the world for she has abandoned the clarion call to bear faithful witness to the God who has clearly spoken on this matter.”
“Again, as we said in June, ‘God will not be mocked and those who substitute their own felt desires for God’s unchangeable Truth will not be found guiltless before a holy God,'” she added.
Photo: Drama Queen/Wikipedia