Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NBC LA: Presbyterian Churches Vote to Ordain Gay Ministers

After 33 years of debate the Pacific Presbytery has voted to allow openly gay people to be ordained as Ministers, Deacons and Elders. Brian Symonds, who hopes to become the first openly gay person to be ordained in Southern California, talks about the decision with Colleen Williams on Nonstop News LA.

View more videos at:

Friday, May 20, 2011

More Light Update, May 2011

Thousands of Presbyterians all across the country are expressing their hopes and dreams for a Church that:
  • reflects the heart of God by embracing all persons,
  • embraces a "no boundaries" Gospel that is "good news" for all persons, not just some,
  • celebrates ordination standards that will now focus again on faith and character rather than marital status or sexual orientation,
  • does not discriminate!

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Living and Loving Honestly, According to the Way I Was Created

    Kevin Henderson
    Kevin Henderson's speech in Sheppards & Lapsley. Kevin is an ordained elder at Edgewood Presbyterian Church in Homewood, Alabama and an inquirer under care of the presbytery. Sheppards & Lapsley passed 10-A by 80 to 52.

    Mr. Moderator, I am Kevin Henderson, Commissioner from Edgewood Church, an Inquirer under the care of this Presbytery, and a soon to be seminarian. 

    Two years ago I told this body that after decades of struggle and denial -- including marriage and children -- I finally accepted that God made me a gay man.

    Two years ago when I made that statement, I was in the 12th year of a faithful, committed relationship with my partner, Steven. Because of that relationship, G-6.106b deemed me unfit for ordained service regardless of my calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for ministry.

    Eleven months ago, Steven passed away suddenly.  This devastating loss, paradoxically, has made me “acceptable” for service because I am now a single man living in chastity.  The irony of this is absolutely heartbreaking.

    As I mourn Steven and move towards seminary, I have thought about what would happen if I am ever blessed to again find another faithful partner.  Would that change my qualifications or my gifts for ministry?

    I am grateful that 92 presbyteries have voted for Amendment 10A, allowing me to be judged according to the traditional standards of our denomination while living and loving honestly, according to the way I was created.

    I urge you to join our sisters and brothers in the growing majority of presbyteries and vote Yes on Amendment 10-A.

    See Also:
    Presbyterians to drop ban on gay clergy, The Birmingham News
    Quotes about 10-A from Kevin Henderson were published in the The Birmingham News on Tuesday, May 17.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Top 10 News Stories About Amendment 10-A

    Since Amendment 10-A passed, there have been over 500 news stories about the new era of LGBT inclusion and welcome in the Presbyterian Church (USA). MLP picked out the top 10 news stories about Amendment 10-A and provides a link to the rest of the stories on Google News.

    Top 10 News Stories About Amendment 10-A:
    Here is a link to Google News to view all the coverage.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Amendment 10-A Is Ratified

    Dear friends,

    Grace and peace. We give thanks to God that the 219th General Assembly's Ordination Amendment 10-A was ratified tonight as Twin Cities was the 87th presbytery to approve it by 205 to 56 with 3 abstentions. 

    Tonight Presbyterians join the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as denominations who have eliminated official barriers to full membership, leadership and service for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.  This is indeed a historic moment in the life of the Presbyterian Church (USA), but also in the worldwide Christian communion.

    More Light Presbyterians have been working for justice and equality since 1974 when the Rev. David Sindt became the first openly gay minister in our Church. "I am so grateful for the sacrificial effort of so many people over these years to bring this deeply Reformed correction to an error made by the Church. Both during these months as the presbyteries have voted and for the last 37 years, you have courageously and steadfastly given of yourselves in a host of ways to bring our Church to this moment. Every bit of your energy, intelligence, imagination and love was needed to come to this new day. I am grateful to God for the privilege of being part of this witnessing community," said the Rev. Janet Edwards, Co-Moderator.

    "My heart is full as I think of all of those children of God who were hurt, who persevered, who left, who stayed and who worked so hard to make the Presbyterian Church (USA) truly reflect the wildly inclusive love of Jesus Christ—too many to name.  Now, candidates for office within the PC(USA) will be evaluated based upon their love of Jesus Christ, the wholeness of their lives, their call to ministry and the gifts they bring," said Trice Gibbons, Co-Moderator.

    "It is necessary and absolutely OK to celebrate this moment in the life and witness of our Church, the end of categorical discrimination against God's LGBT children which was wrong in the first place. What a journey this work for justice and equality has been. The thousands of prayers, faithful conversations, sharing of hopes and dreams are all part of building a Church that reflects God's heart and a world that respects all persons," said Michael J. Adee, Executive Director & Field Organizer.

    We are grateful for the work that still lies before us. The YES on 10-A Campaign continues full steam ahead until the last presbytery votes on June 28. Please keep believing, praying and working. We need to nurture and support churches to extend calls to LGBT candidates and help those candidates through the process for ordination in their particular presbyteries. We need to continue the conversation on marriage equality. Above all, we need to help the whole church see that the affirmation of LGBT persons and their families is a practical application of the Gospel message that God in Christ creates and loves us all. Proclaiming the Gospel lasts a lifetime.

    There is much work ahead of us for our Church. But tonight, let us recognize this kairos moment in the life of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the liberating gift it is for our future. Together we are building a Church that reflects God's heart.

    with hope and grace,

    Rev. Janet Edwards, Co-Moderator

    Trice Gibbons, Co-Moderator

    Michael J. Adee, Executive Director & Field Organizer

    The National Board of Directors and Staff of More Light Presbyterians

    The Consequences Will Surprise You

    Rev. Randall Tremba
    We invite you to consider the surprising consequences at Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church in Shepherdstown, West Virginia where gays and lesbians are publicly welcomed. Rev. Tremba, Minister of Word & Sacrament since 1976, has a D.Min. from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is married to Paula and has three children, two dogs and a cat.

    Below you will find links to a recent interview with Rev. Tremba, the Presbyterian Outlook Ad, the letter he wrote to the Shenandoah Presbytery in support of Amendment 10-A and a slide show about life at Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church.

    On November 10, 2010 the Shenandoah Presbytery failed to ratify Amendment 10-A by a vote of 93 yes to 106 no. The Shenandoah vote for Amendment 08-B in 2009 was 82 yes to 112 no. 

    Resources by Rev. Tremba
     Slide Show of Life at Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church:

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    My Two Cents on 10-A

    Rev. Dr. David E. Ensign
    Rev. Dr. David E. Ensign is Minister of Word and Sacrament at Claredon Presbyterian Church in Arlington, VA. The National Capitol Presbytery passed 10-A by 204-80 (with three abstentions).

    National Capital Presbytery met Saturday to vote on proposed changes to the denomination's constitution, including the amendment known as 10-A, which would remove the categorical barrier to the ordination of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender candidates for church office.

    Here's the brief statement I made during the debate.

    When we talk about this I always hear so much fear about what will happen if we change the Book of Order.

    At Clarendon we have been living into the spirit of the language before us today for the past 15 years. We’ve been quite open about this, ordaining, we believe, the first openly gay, partnered elder in Virginia in the mid-90s.

    What happened? A few people left the church, and a great many more have since joined, and we’ve moved right on baptizing babies, confirming young people, observing the sacraments, proclaiming the gospel, comforting the sick and the grieving, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, working for justice, making peace, inviting people into lives of faithful discipleship.

    That first gay elder would be here today to vote except that he and his partner of more than 20 years had to go to Florida today to attend the funeral of the neighbor of an elderly cousin for whom they had cared – keeping her finances, arranging her housing, visiting her countless time, going to church with her at her Presbyterian congregation in Florida – during the last decade or so of her 95 years.

    I mention that circumstance simply to underscore what most of us have come to know well: that there are countless faithful, compassionate and profoundly gifted Presbyterian men and women in our midst who happen to be gay or lesbian.

    It is far past time to acknowledge this simple fact, and to make the way be clear to the ordained service of these men and women who are called to such service. I urge you to vote to approve 10-A.

    The amendment passed NCP on a 204-80 vote (with three abstentions), and now stands three presbyteries short of being affirmed. Change is slow, but it is a-coming.

    Reprinted from Faithful Agitation.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Faith & Character: Standards for Ordination

    Rev. Abby King Kaiser
    Rev. Abby King Kaiser's speech to the Presbytery of San Francisco. San Francisco became a transformed presbytery and passed 10-A by a vote of 198 to 143. Rev. Kaiser is Minister of Word and Sacrament at Fruitvale Presbyterian Church in Oakland, California.

    A year ago, at the April meeting of this presbytery, I was examined for ordination with a departure. I chose to use the scrupling process to register my theological dissent about G 6.0106b. In the very messy process, I experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit in my conversations with the Committee on Ministry (COM) and with this presbytery.

    But, as much as I experienced grace in the departure process, it was God’s grace through a broken system. I decided to declare a departure on grounds of theology, not practice. I was asked by both COM and on the floor of presbytery if I was in compliance with G 6.0106b. I answered in the affirmative.

    I was surprised by a few things. First, the number of people who agreed with me who discouraged me from declaring a departure. This was by far the most heart-wrenching part of the ordination process for me. I reconsidered my calling because pastors I respected questioned whether this was worth it. If ordained leadership might bind my heart in this way, keeping me from following the Spirit of God I experienced and the Christ of scripture that I know, should I really become a pastor?

    Second, I was surprised to find how deep fear runs in candidates for ordination of diverse theologies, diverse backgrounds and diverse sexualities throughout the denomination. We may not agree on who Jesus is in our lives, but as we step in front of our calling presbytery to be examined for ordination, we share a deep fear. To me, this is a sign of a broken relationship between candidates and presbyteries and a broken system.

    Third, I was surprised by one response I got the morning after my examination. I received an anonymous email that said:

    If you are a practicing gay, then you should certainly find another line of work. I apologize if I have made the wrong assumption.

    Signed, A Presbyterian
    When I responded by refusing to answer the question (having done so in front of presbytery the night before) and noting that this person didn’t even know my correct name, the addressee continued to assume that I was a lesbian. This person said that though God may love me for who I am, deep in the quiet of my heart, I know that God abhors my lifestyle.

    When I challenged this person to continue this conversation face to face, I never heard from them again.

    When a brother or sister Presbyterian feels empowered to anonymously question not only my sexuality, but thereby my character, integrity and faith, something is wrong. Relationships in our denomination are broken and our system is broken.

    I am voting proudly, excitedly and enthusiastically for 10-A tonight because I believe it is possible for presbyteries and the denomination to craft an ordination process that encourages grace filled relationships that base our fitness for ministry on our integrity, character and faith, using a high standard of joyful submission to the Lordship of Christ in all aspects of life.

    Presbyteries will have the opportunity and responsibility to get to know candidates deeply and well throughout the process. In order to do this, 10-A compels them to use Scripture and the Confessions as the source for their standards in regards to each individual candidate. 10-A respects and supports the individual needs of candidates, enabling healthier relationships with Presbyteries of care and call. 10-A makes fitness for ministry about a candidate’s character, integrity and faith. 10-A allows us to live as one body, preaching the good news, while respecting a healthy diversity of theologies. 10-A makes the ordination process clearer and the standards higher.

    In Scripture, God calls the most unlikely of candidates to prophecy and ministry. Moses felt inadequate. Jeremiah felt too young. Elijah waited for the voice of God, only to hear it in the most unexpected way. And these are just the big players. The woman at the well took the good news of an experience with Christ to her people, Samaritans, despite her gender and ethnicity that would have excluded her from religious leadership. Our current ordination process does not allow for people of character, integrity and faith, who might seem unlikely candidates, to serve the church. It is quite likely that Moses, Jeremiah, Elijah and the woman at the well could not have survived the ordination process.

    And yet, in almost the same breath in the first letter to Timothy, Paul encourages and discourages my ministry. He reminds me that my youth is a strength and not a weakness. Then, he tells me to keep quiet and be saved through childbirth because I am a woman. Scripture is not always clear.

    The voice of God is. I stand before you tonight, almost at the first anniversary of my ordination, because I heard God speaking first in Scripture, but then through mentors in ministry, communities I served, my presbytery of care, the congregation I serve and this presbytery, which I am proud to be a member of. I hope that the passage of 10-A allows my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, whose call is just as, if not more, clear, to join me in ordained service to the church.