Appeal to be filed to challenge Larges ruling

Lisa Larges’ ordination remains on hold.

Larges, hoping to become the first openly lesbian woman to be ordained to the office of teaching elder (minister) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), appears likely to face another day in court.  One of the original complainants seeking to block Larges’ ordination, Mary Naegeli of Walnut Creek, Calif., has said in an online blog posting that a recent ruling in Larges favor by the Synod of the Pacific will be appealed for further consideration.

Believing the synod’s reasoning in the case “is corrupt, unPresbyterian, and unsustainable in the long run, the complainants seek redress with the highest level of judicial review,” the General Assembly’s Permanent Judicial Commission (GAPJC), Naegeli states in an Oct. 1 blog entry. Her posting says the complainants have until the end of October to file an appeal.

News of the intent to appeal came just a few days before the scheduled ordination of Scott Anderson, the first openly gay man due to be ordained as a PC(USA) minister.  His service is set for Oct. 8 in Madison, Wis.

The GAPJC, meeting in August, found in Anderson’s favor, opening the door to his ordination. In Larges’ case, the GAPC rejected nine claims of error in the decision to ordain her, but it sustained two claims of error and remanded the case to the Synod of the Pacific. The remanding order asked the synod to respond to the biblical, theological and historical evidence that had been presented to disqualify Larges’ ordination.

The Synod PJC responded to that on Sept. 17 by declaring that Larges’ original examination, carried out on Nov. 9, 2001, by the Presbytery of San Francisco, “did not constitute a doctrinal error, nor was it an abuse of discretion.”  It added,

The record and trial testimony make clear that interpretations of scripture and the confessions, and the conclusions that result from those interpretations, have not been uniform in the history and practice of the Church. . . . This range of interpretations reached through thoughtful and prayerful discernment is, in itself, evidence that the candidate’s departure cannot be from an essential of Reformed faith and polity.

Naegeli’s blog posting calls that response “absurd.” It says further review by the GAPJC is “the only way to avert the confusion that is inevitable” if the synod’s decision is allowed to stand.