GA News: Door may be opening to ordaining gays and lesbians?

SAN JOSE, Cal. -- Commissioners to the 218th General Assembly have voted to change the denomination’s constitution to approve the ordination of gay and lesbian persons, a change that will require ratification by a majority of the 173 regional presbyteries over the next year. 

Two other actions adopted by the assembly will take effect immediately.

First, the commissioners approved by a vote of 375 to 324 a proposal from the Presbytery of John Knox that allows ordination “examining bodies to give prayerful and careful consideration, on an individual, case-by-case basis, to any departure from an ordination standard in matters of belief or practice that a candidate may declare during examination.”  This takes effect immediately.

Second, the commissioners voted to send to the presbyteries for ratification language to replace the present rules that requires those being ordained and/or installed into ordained office to live “in fidelity in a marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness.”  The language approved in the GA for ratification says:Those who are called to ordained service in the church, by their assent to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003), pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church, striving to follow where he leads through the witness of the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions. In so doing, they declare their fidelity to the standards of the Church. Each governing body charged with examination for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240 and G-14.0450) establishes the candidate’s sincere efforts to adhere to these standards.

Third, the Assembly’s vote on the new amendment also included the directive to rescind all Authoritative Interpretations to the Constitution, dating back to 1978, that have stated that homosexual practice is not compatible with ordained service in the denomination.  The elimination of this interpretive language does not overturn the prohibition; that would take effect only if the proposed amendment gets ratified.  But the authoritative interpretations provided much more specificity to the constitutional policy.