This just in from the Covenant Network, reporting on a case that reached the highest commission in my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission, or GAPJC), involving the ordination of an openly gay woman who, in keeping with our tradition, declared a scruple (conscientious objection) to several parts of the former version of our Constitution that precluded those in same-sex relationships from being ordained as deacons, elders, or teaching elders (ministers of Word and Sacrament).
Here’s what came through the Covenant Network:
Friends, the following message is from the co-moderators of the board:
The Board of Covenant Network is deeply gratified that the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission today upheld the decision of the Presbytery of San Francisco to ordain Lisa Larges as a Teaching Elder in the church. This decision brings to a final conclusion roughly four years of litigation over the presbytery’s authorIty to find Lisa fit for ordained service after she declared her conscientious objections to former G-6.0106b (the “fidelity and chastity” rule) and similarly exclusionary interpretations of Scripture and the confessions.
In its decision, which was issued without any dissent, the GAPJC acknowledged that there is significant diversity around the church in the interpretation of what Scripture and the confessions teach about human sexuality. The GAPJC affirmed that “[s]uch thoughtful disagreement among reasonable and faithful Presbyterians is itself an important and faithful part of the Reformed tradition.” Given this, the GAPJC affirmed that the Presbytery of San Francisco “properly exercised its prerogative” in determining that Lisa did not depart from essentials of Reformed faith and polity.
The board understands that, during the period this case was under review, Lisa discerned that she has fulfilled her call to the position that was validated as the basis for ordination, and that she now intends to seek ordination to a new call in another presbytery. We are deeply grateful to Lisa for her courageous and persistent witness throughout this process, and know that the church will be greatly blessed by her ministry in coming years.
Consistent with Covenant Network’s ongoing commitment to provide legal resources and support as the church works to become more gracious and just, our director Doug Nave and recently retired Executive Director Pam Byers represented the Presbytery of San Francisco in this matter. Many thanks to them for their fine leadership and generous service to the church.
Mary Lynn Tobin and David VanDyke
I am thrilled to hear that once again God’s call on the lives of my sisters and brothers in Christ has been affirmed by our church, and that God’s grace and glory continues to be lifted up. It has been a long journey for Lisa, whom I have only met a few times but for whom I have much respect.
Thank you, Lisa, for your bravery, your clarity, and your vision of an inclusive and loving God.