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Presbyterian Church lifts ban on gay, lesbian clerics

Michael O'Malley

Published: Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 7:45 AM
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved the ordination of gays and lesbians.

Voting by 173 church districts -- known as presbyteries -- is not yet completed, but as of last week, a majority of the districts had approved a church constitutional amendment to lift a ban on gay and lesbian clerics, effectively adopting a new policy on sexuality.

The amendment was introduced to the church's national assembly a year ago by the Church of the Covenant in Cleveland.

"This is an emotional issue for the whole church, so I'm concerned about the reaction," said the Rev. Liza Hendricks, head of Northeast Ohio's Western Reserve Presbytery, which spreads from Lorain to the Pennsylvania border with 10,000 members and 47 churches.

"The presbytery will encourage its members to respect one another's convictions and look for ways to engage in common mission," she said.

Adopting the amendment removes the church's constitutional requirement that all ministers, elders and deacons live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness."

New constitutional language does not even mention gender, effectively opening ordination for people in same-sex relationships.

The Presbyterian Church (USA), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., has about 2 million members, 11presbyterian-church-ballots-gays-ordination.JPG,000 congregations and 14,000 active ministers.

Ballots marked "yes" are stacked in piles of 10 as they are counted during a meeting of the Pacific Presbytery, the regional organization for Presbyterians in Southern California and Hawaii, at a church in California last week. The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to approve the ordination of gays and lesbians.

   
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