PG coverage Presbytery vote

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.



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  • When Jesus insisted on monogamous marriage, he predicated it on a passage in Genesis which says that “from the beginning God made them male and female … In other words, the fact that God had designed two, and only two, sexes for complementary sexual pairing was Jesus' basis for monogamy,” the Rev. Gagnon said.

    Does this mean that, if sexuality is not a binary choice–male or female being the only two options–but if instead sexual physiology and psychology are a spectrum that is fundamental to who we are as humans, that Rev. Gagnon will change his stance?
    One could hope. Apparently it did with Joe Beam…

  • Thanks for putting this up. I have seen no coverage in my local paper since they talked about the prayer vigil the local presbytery was organizing about it. My letter to the editor on the subject was never published (surprise!).
    (And I won't subscribe to the PG because their definition of delivery means throwing it from their car to the end of my sidewalk where it sits in the sun/rain/snow all day.)

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