Presbyterian churches make way for ordaining gay clergy
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Officials with the National Presbyterian Church have struck down a requirement that unmarried clergy remain celibate.
This decision is removing a key barrier for gays and lesbians who want to be ordained.
While it's a move that has clearly divided Presbyterians nationwide, many in the Valley don't believe it will change anything.
Steve Carter of Fresno's Westminster Presbyterian Church said, "It's going to continue to be business as usual for us."
Carter says the latest vote by the Presbyterian Church USA changes the requirements to be a pastor. "Among the requirements for ordination were the acceptance of a statement that marriage was between a man and a woman and if you weren't married, you would live a life of chastity."
Carter believes the language now is more vague and will allow the ordination of practicing homosexuals.
The leader of the Valley's Presbyterian USA churches says the new language may allow the ordination of homosexual church leaders, but it will not force any church to do so.
Sandy Brown said, "There's nothing in this language that compels anybody to violate their consciences or their interpretation of scripture in the confession."
In anticipation of the acceptance of gay pastors, eight Valley churches, including First Presbyterian in Downtown Fresno left the Presbyterian Church USA for what's called the EPC, or the Evangelical Presbyterian Church."
Pastor Steve Carter is sad to see the division in the church. "The divisions have hurt, theologically we can't really justify the divisions, but some issues are so important that people just can't accept the change so they feel like they have to leave.
Carter does not believe in the ordination of practicing homosexuals, but he says, he took a vow to be a pastor in the Presbyterian Church USA, and will continue to serve in that capacity, no matter what other churches do.
gay rights, local, liz harrison
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