As legal provisions for equal marriage expand steadily, support for gay church weddings is also growing – but with only a few exceptions, church rules have not yet caught up. For the PCUSA, More Light Presbyterians is advocating on behalf of pastors who want to perform same-sex marriages and civil unions in states where it is legal but are prohibited from doing so by their denomination.
More Light Presbyterians has compiled an approximate count of Teaching Elders in the Presbyterian Church (USA) who minister in states that provide marriage equality or civil unions for same gender couples. Current PC(USA) policy places many of these clergy in an untenable situation – choosing to provide this pastoral care for the people they’ve been called to serve, or withholding it in order to comply with the current language in the Directory for Worship in the Book of Order. Stand for Love provides Teaching Elders with the opportunity to proclaim the witness that Christian marriage is not limited to heterosexual couples, in obedience to their ordination vow to “show the love and justice of Jesus Christ.” As marriage equality initiatives in Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island and other states achieve success, and as the Supreme court reviews California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, the number of PC(USA) clergy who minister under this dichotomy will only increase.
This count is partially estimated because some presbyteries cross state lines where marriage equality is only available in one of the states. This count is a work in progress. If you have information which will improve its accuracy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
MLP used the Office of the General Assembly (OGA)’s 2010 Presbytery Membership and 2012 GA Commissioners (pdf) to determine counts of Teaching Elders in any particular presbytery.
Teaching Elders impacted in states providing equal marriage and civil unions:
Marriage Equality States: 3,123 Teaching Elders (14.7% of all TEs)
Civil Union States: 1,642 Teaching Elders (7.7% of all TEs)
Marriage Equality & Civil Union States: 4,765 Teaching Elders (22.5% of all TEs)
To view a breakdown of where state laws stand, visit Freedom to Marry.
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