Historic change in Presbyterian Church allows gay ministers

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - It's a historic vote in the Presbyterian Church USA, which can now ordain gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gender clergy.

This has been a controversial issue within the church for decades. It's known as Amendment 10a.

It removes language from the Presbyterian Book of Order, which prohibits the gay community from serving as a pastor or minister in the church.

Of course, it's still up to each individual church to decide who they hire, but now they can hire a gay person if they wish.

That amendment passed in a vote of 87-62. The church said this is a good move, because it will put an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation or marital status.

That the new language will allow applicants to be honest, and be evaluated based solely on their qualifications.

But others, who are completely against this, say homosexuality is a sin and that those who are gay have no business being in any role of authority in a church.

One of the votes, which helped the amendment to pass, came from right here in Cincinnati.

For twenty years the Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church has been working toward full inclusion of gays, lesbians, bisexual and trans-gendered folks as ministers.

"I have many friends that have been waiting 30-plus years to be ordained by this denomination," Pastor Susan Quinn Bryan said. "And I get close to tears that I now know that that's not going to happen to anyone else that's coming-up."

But many people have differing opinions on how God's love should be expressed.

"We're walking a tightrope here," Bryan said. "We're celebrating because obviously, we're just so pleased that our church has now joined the Lutherans and the Episcopalians and the UCC in welcoming gays and lesbians into ordained office within our church."

Unlike other denominations, Presbyterians are "Representational" so it took a simple majority of Presbytery nationwide to make the change.

"It had to take over half of the members of our whole denomination," she said.

They needed 87 votes. The vote here in Cincinnati gave them 88.

"Change is never comfortable for people," Bryan said.

More than half of their ruling board is gay or lesbian.

"We're a part of a Presbytery," she said. "So we're a part if this family and we do very much consider it our family."

And like every big family there are disagreements.

"Well, the church was already divided," said Pastor Terry Webster of the First Presbyterian Church in Fort Thomas. "I think the major reason was I just didn't think it was time, there wasn't a broad enough consensus one way or another."

Webster had voted 'No' up until Sunday.

"To be honest, I held my nose and voted yes this year, partly because this has dominated the denomination for so long that there's more important things we need to do," he said.

Projects such as mission work and evangelism.

"There may be some who are more attracted to that position," Webster said, referring to the change now allowing gays and lesbians to serve. "That will come back into this church, but at the same time, there could be others who are turned-off by it."

Both pastors agree the love of Christ is bigger than anything that could divide them.

The new rules take effect July 11.

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