The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted at its June 15-22 General Assembly in Birmingham, Ala., to allow presbyteries (regions) and congregations flexibility in whether to ordain noncelibate homosexuals. The 3.2-million member church, which is in full communion with the ELCA, previously banned such ordinations outright.
The church’s Book of Order states that clergy must commit to fidelity within heterosexual marriage or “chastity in singleness.” In a separate vote, the assembly overwhelmingly retained that provision.
Clifton Kirkpatrick, the church’s stated clerk (chief executive), said the new “authoritative interpretation” of the church’s constitution “[hasn’t] altered the fundamentals; we have the same standards as before.” Approved 298-221, the action allows presbyteries and congregations to decide whether an individual candidate’s departure from that standard is also a departure from overall ministry standards.
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