Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A New Day Dawns for Presbyterians

"PC(USA) opens door to ordination of sexually active gays and
lesbians. Vote may be prelude to ‘seismic’ change." This headline
in The Presbyterian Outlook today marks a new day in the life of the
Presbyterian church.

It also marks an emotionally fulfilling and personally meaningful

moment for me. Ever since our son first came out to us in 1987, I, as
a devout Presbyterian, have been especially aware of and hurt by the
religious arguments against gays and lesbians. And as I have gone
from confusion to acceptance to celebration, I became more and more
convinced that religious opposition was at the heart of a lot of the
discrimination and lack of acceptance of our GLBT family and friends.

During much of this time it has seemed as if the Presbyterian

denomination was going backward rather than forward. In 1997 a
requirement of "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a
man and a woman or chastity in singleness" for all ordained lay
leaders and clergy was codified in our constitution. This followed an
effort in which I was involved to remove a prior, less formal
requirement.

Despite that backward step, I remained a Presbyterian, largely because

of Mitzi Henderson, former President of the national board of PFLAG ,
who has been a powerful advocate for GLBT equality among Presbyterians
from the beginning.

Her encouragement and example helped me to believe that the

denomination could change.

And now it has. The new provision requires that ordained lay leaders

and clergy "submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all
aspects of life" – a big improvement!

Along the way to this change, Presbyterians have discovered anew the

importance of recognizing that we are brothers and sisters in spite of
our differences, and it did seem as though the discussions around the
country this year reflected a new spirit. I hope I'm right; we'll
need that as we tackle the question of same-sex marriages!

I want to personally thank PFLAG members who have helped in this

struggle. In several cases I contacted PFLAG leaders in particularly
critical areas. In a number of cases the votes turned from negative
the last time we voted to positive. I also appreciate all that PFLAG
leaders and members have done over the years and throughout the
country to change the perceptions of our awesome GLBT family members,
friends and community members.

Written by guest blogger Kirsten Kingdon

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