I am pleased. The Post-Gazette's coverage of yesterday's vote by the Pittsburgh Presbytery is a balanced report on the complexities of “gay issues” in communities of faith. Rather than a reductionistic portrayal of people of faith as vigorously anti-gay, Ann Rodgers presents multiple perspectives from various heterosexual members of the Pittsburgh Presbytarian community.
At issue was an amendment to the church's constitution which would have eliminated the mandate that ministers be either chaste single adults or married. In other words, it would have created room for gay clergy with partners. The local vote is part of the larger effort to amend the constitution nationally. Sadly, the local vote was against the amendment.
The good news is that the vote did bring out allies to testify on behalf of their gay sisters and brothers in the church (and beyond).
“The current ordination standard cuts like a knife into the heart of what many presbytery members believe about their friends and family members who are gay,” said Mike Fazzini, an elder at Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church. “It sends my son the message that he is not worthy … because the love of his life happens to be of the same sex.”
The Rev. Jean Henderson, a retired pastor and past moderator of the presbytery, said she regretted remaining silent for 50 years about her support for gay ordination, especially after the death of the Rev. Brent Dugan, a beloved pastor of the Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon, who committed suicide after his picture was shown in KDKA-TV news promos promising to reveal illicit sexual behavior.
“After the death of Brent Dugan in 2006 I came out of the closet as a straight ally for those who are striving simply to use the gifts that God has given them. I encourage you to let God's love in Christ overcome your fear and to vote for this amendment,” she said.
After the vote, Carol Untch, chairman of the presbytery's Task Force on Ministry with Sexual Minorities, said she took comfort from six listening sessions held earlier, which she believed had encouraged genuine dialogue among people who disagree.
“It's not unexpected,” she said of yesterday's vote. “It remains to be seen what happens with the whole denomination.”
Of course, there were testimonials from those who belive homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle and opposed to ordaining gay clergy. You can go read the article to catch those. I'm very sad that Lebanon Presbyterian Church in my home community of West Mifflin seems to generate a lot of the opposition. I was a member of the youth group for two years. It was the alternative to my parish down the street which was being served by a pedophile priest who creeped the hell out of me. Great options, huh?
I'm just pleased that the coverage itself is thoughtful and nuanced. I really do believe that increasing the profile of people of faith who are allies to our community will help challenge the false claim that every right accorded to a LGBT person is one right removed from a person of faith.
I also hope the thorough news coverage will help the genuine dialogue continue.