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Assembly sends same sex union ban amendment to presbyteries

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  • U.M. Cornet
    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE PCUSA Release is Below See also: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000701/us/presbyterians_gays_13.html Saturday July 1 4:28 AM
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2000
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      CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE

      PCUSA Release is Below

      See also:
      http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20000701/us/presbyterians_gays_13.html
      Saturday July 1 4:28 AM ET
      Presbyterians Nix Gay Ceremonies
      By ANTHONY BREZNICAN, Associated Press Writer

      http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000701/ts/religion_presbyterians_dc_1.html
      Saturday July 1 3:22 AM ET
      Presbyterians Vote to Ban Same-Sex Unions
      By Dan Whitcomb


      --------------

      Assembly sends same sex union ban amendment to presbyteries
      Measure passes by 268-251 vote
      by Jerry L. Van Marter

      LONG BEACH, June 30�After just an hour of impassioned but civil debate, the
      212th General Assembly tonight voted by a margin of 268-251 (51 percent to
      48 percent) to send a proposed constitutional amendment to its 173
      presbyteries that would flatly prohibit same sex union ceremonies in the
      Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Four commissioners abstained.

      The proposed amendment -- which came to the Assembly as Overture
      00-26 from San Joaquin Presbytery, would add section W-4.9007 to the
      "Directory for Worship" that reads: "Scripture and our Confessions teach
      that God's intention for all people is to live either in fidelity within the
      covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or in chastity in singleness.
      Church property shall not be used for, and church officers shall not take
      part in conducting any ceremony or event that pronounces blessing or gives
      approval
      of the church or invokes the blessing of God upon any relationship that is
      inconsistent with God's intention as expressed in the preceding sentence."

      Before the vote, stated clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick pleaded with those
      in the hall not to "audibly" react to the results of the ballot. The vote
      was preceded by prayer from moderator Syngman Rhee and a period of silent
      prayer and a chorus of "Spirit of the Living God." Immediately following
      the vote, commissioners recited the 23rd Psalm in unison and were led in
      prayer by Kirkpatrick and Rhee.

      A minority report, brought to the Assembly by Madeline Jervis of
      National Capital Presbytery, representing 16 members of the Assembly
      Committee on Physical and Spiritual Well Being, asked the Assembly to
      "support the spirit of dialogue" around unity and diversity issues and to
      honor what it says is "our denomination's longstanding tradition of valuing
      the discretion of pastors and sessions in ordering worship and pastoral
      care." The minority
      report failed 247-273.

      The debate in plenary echoed the debate earlier in the week in the
      Assembly Committee on Physical and Spiritual Well Being, which recommended
      the amendment to the Assembly on a 25-22 vote.

      Supporters of the proposed amendment, which must be ratified by a
      majority of the presbyteries between now and next year's Assembly, argued
      that the church simply cannot bless what the Bible plainly calls sin.
      Elizabeth O'Brien, a Youth Advisory Delegate from the Presbytery of the
      Peaks, said the church "has a responsibility to provide a clear standard to
      upcoming generations. If we bless what the Bible calls sin, what kind of
      standard are we setting? We cannot deny the word of the Lord."

      Opponents argued that such an amendment would interfere with the
      pastoral responsibilities of ministers and sessions. The Rev. Dick Carlson
      of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, who said he is the father of gay child, said,
      "The people coming before us asking (for their same sex unions to be
      blessed) are not strangers or aliens, they are our children who we have
      baptized and confirmed. They have not changed. What has changed is our
      perception of them, they are seen as outsiders and as odious." Pleading for
      freedom as a pastor, Carlson said, "Instead of giving stones when they ask
      for bread, we should be a community of support for them. Closets are for
      praying in, not
      living in."

      Others against the amendment argued that the blessing of same sex
      unions is an issue of biblical interpretation, not biblical authority. "We
      agree on the authority of Scripture," said minority report spokesperson the
      Rev. Madeline Jervis. "It is not helpful for our life as a denomination for
      the church to impose one interpretation of Scripture. This is not the
      Presbyterian way, fiat instead of conversation. Let's not burden our church
      with a year of rancorous debate instead of dialogue about unity in
      diversity."

      But the Rev. Kirk Bottomly of San Diego Presbytery seemed to reflect
      the will of the majority: "There is a lot of confusion in our denomination.
      We need to get the message straight and tell it. When ordained we take vows
      to be bound by Biblical teaching and Confessional standards. We've talked
      for 30 years about this, now's time to decide."

      During a brief recess after the vote, the corridor outside the
      plenary filled with about 50 supporters of same sex union ceremonies, who
      sang hymns in solemn protest. They did not enter the hall.

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