Presbyterian Hub

Presbyterian Schism Over Gay Marriage Continues

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 11.25.43 AMEarlier this year the Windwood Presbyterian Church of Houston, Texas made the decision to begin distancing itself from the Presbyterian Church as a whole due to differing view on homosexuality. In a 429-175 vote during its biennial General Assembly held in Detroit this past June, the Presbyterian Church of the USA moved to allow its pastors to officiate over same-sex weddings. The Church’s decision to recognize the legitimacy of gay unions is at odds with the Windwood congregation’s more traditional views.

The two religious bodies have been embroiled in a legal battle for the better part of the past eight years over the rights to ownership of the Texas-based church’s land. Because Windwood has publicly expressed its desire to be disassociated with the greater Church, Presbyterian leaders are calling for Windwood to pay for access to the land its churches are built upon.

Windwood’s leadership asserts that it has legal right to the land without needing to compensate the church. Windwood, believing that it owns the disputed land, has been involved in an ongoing legal dispute with the Presbyterian Church.

“We have been involved in a lawsuit over the ownership of the property since 2008 and that suit is still in process,” explained Reverend Kevin Rudolph of the Windwood church.

At the heart of the spat over ownership to the land is a trust clause commonly associated with the financial handling of church property. The clause relating to the land Windwood is built upon states that “all property held by or for a particular church is held in truth nevertheless or the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)”

Windwood is but one church formerly associated with the Presbyterian Church that has brought its claims to court in hopes of settling its differences and retaining claim to its physical property. Earlier this year the Highland Park Presbyterian Church similarly made the decision to separate from the Presbyterian Church as a whole and sought to avoid paying for their church grounds as mandated by the trust clause. Highland Park ultimately ended up settling out of court with the Church to tune of $7.8 million dollars.

"We do not believe that Highland Park's case has any direct effect on Windwood's litigation," said Cindy Pirtle, Woodland’s director of adult discipleship "Each church comes with its own set of circumstances and history.”

Friday Speed Read: Family Leave, Uganda, David Cicilline, John Kerry, Presbyterian Church, Gaydar

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service


The Department of Labor will announce this morning that it will propose regulations on the Family and Medical Leave Act to clarify that an employee is eligible for FMLA leave to care for a same-sex spouse even if the employee lives in a state that does not recognize marriages of same-sex couples.


MuseveniA spokesperson for the National Security Council announced Thursday that the U.S. is taking action in response to the Ugandan government’s enactment of its Anti-Homosexuality Act. The statement from press spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the U.S. would deny entry to the United States by “certain Ugandan officials involved in serious human rights abuses, including against LGBT individuals.” It said the U.S. would also discontinue or “redirect” funding for the Ugandan police, health ministry, and public health institute. A separate White House blog statement identified $5.4 million in discontinued or redirected funding but said the Obama administration would not identify which individuals would be barred from the U.S.


Openly gay U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RIs) introduced a bill Thursday to bar from the U.S. any foreigner who has “committed or incited gross violations” of human rights of LGBT people. Four of the seven openly gay members of the House signed on as co-sponsors: Reps. Jared Polis, Sean Maloney, Mark Pocan, and Mark Takano.


Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to go above and beyond the call of duty Thursday in delivering remarks to a Pride event of the in-house group Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFFA). Kerry spoke at length and answered some tough questions. He lavished praise on GLIFFA President Robyn McCutcheon, most recently a foreign service officer in Bucharest. In the Q&A, two GLIFFA members noted that they’ve seen resistance by many countries to issuing a visa to their same-sex spouse. “This is a serious obstacle that is hurting us in our careers and hurting our families,” said one member. Kerry said he has instructed U.S. embassies “to inform governments locally that this is our policy and that they need to honor our policy….And where they don’t…at some point in time, we may have to begin to make it clear to them that that can affect one program or another or the choices that we make. It’s not going to be a normal relationship.”


The governing body of the 1.8 million-member Presbyterian Church USA voted 371 to 238 Thursday to allow their clergy to conduct wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. The denomination’s General Assembly, meeting in Detroit, also voted 429 to 175 to amend its governing constitution to define marriage as a “unique commitment between two people.” The constitutional change requires ratification by regional presbyteries. The clergy-ceremony vote takes effect Saturday.


Here’s what former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, said to a National Journal reporter when asked for his reaction to Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s recent primary loss: “…men in the South, they are a little effeminate….They just have effeminate mannerisms. If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and you saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say—and I'm fine with gay people, that's all right—but my gaydar is 60-70 percent. But he's not, I think, so I don't know. Again, I couldn't care less. I'm accepting." Schweitzer later apologized for his “stupid and insensitive remarks.”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

Presbyterian Church Votes to Allow Clergy to Perform Gay Marriages

The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted Thursday to allow clergy to perform same-sex weddings within the church, making it one of the largest Christian denominations to do so.

PresbyterianReligion News Service reports:

By a 76-24 percent vote, the General Assembly of the 1.8 million-member PCUSA voted to allow pastors to perform gay marriages in states where they are legal. Delegates, meeting in Detroit this week, also approved new language about marriage in the church’s Book of Order, or constitution, altering references to “a man and woman” to “two persons.”

This change will not become church law until a majority of the 172 regional presbyteries vote to ratify the new language. But given the lopsided 3-1 ratio of the vote, approval is expected.

Gay rights activists within the church rejoiced at their victory, which was remarkable for its margin of victory after multiple years of razor-thin defeats.

“This vote is an answer to many prayers for the church to recognize love between committed same-sex couples,” said Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, a group that has led the fight for gay marriage within the church.

Conservative Presbyterians opposed to the change sent out a statement urging congregations to launch a financial boycott out of protest.

“God will not be mocked,” the statement continued, “and those who substitute their own felt desires for God’s unchangeable Truth will not be found guiltless before a holy God.”

A similar resolution allowing gay marriage failed 338-308 during the 2012 General Assembly. The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Church of Christ all allow same-sex marriage.   

Openly Gay Minister Ordained by Minneapolis Presbyterian Church: VIDEO


Daniel Vigilante became the first openly gay Presbyterian minister in Minnesota on Saturday, KARE11 reports:

Daniel Vigilante is now the minister of outreach at Trinity Community Church at 28th and Humboldt Avenue. He tried to get ordained 13 years ago, but he had to remove himself from the process because the church wouldn't accept his sexual orientation.

"This is just an enormous step for the Presbyterian Church and such a statement that the church is a place for everyone," he said. "It's inclusive. It's for young and old and gay and straight. Men and women can be a part of it and be in full leadership."

Vigilante is one of just about a dozen gay and lesbian members who have been ordained since 2011 when the Presbyterian Church lifted its ban on gay clergy.


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Presbyterian General Assembly Rejects Marriage Equality

ImageWord has come down from the highest, official-est conclave of Presbyterian Christianity: Gay marriages are verboten. (The "blessing" of gay "unions," however, remains groovy.)

In Pittsburgh late this week, the Presbyterian General Assembly voted 338-308 against altering their denomination's definition of marriage from a "civil contract between a woman and a man" to a "covenant between two people." (Both of which sound distressingly vague.)

The Washington Post's coverage of the vote notes that disagreements over the definition of marriage have lately caused considerable strife within the global Presbyterian presbytery. The Rev. Jane Spahr was censured by the church's governing body in 2007 for signing same-sex couples' marriage licenses during the brief legal interregnum when doing so was legal. And last week, the General Assembly's moderator resigned after causing controversy by signing a gay couple's marriage license.

From the Post:

Opponents of the new definition of marriage said it would violate the word of God, divide the Presbyterian Church and alienate the denomination from its many partner churches overseas. If the assembly had approved the redefinition, it would have required ratification from a majority of the church’s 173 presbyteries, or regional districts, a process that usually stretches for months.

“I must affirm definition of marriage as between one man and one woman,” said Jodi Craiglow, of the Miami Valley Presbytery in Ohio. She directly addressed gay Presbyterians. “As much as my heart breaks for your pain and frustration, I must simply hold to the standard of the God I love,” she said.

Despite such sentiments from Presbyterians allegedly in touch with the omnipotent creator of the universe, Presbyterians have for some time been shedding anti-marriage congregants. Pro-equality ones, too. From the Post:

Last year, the denomination dropped just below 2 million members, and several theologically conservative churches have left to affiliate with like-minded denominations. In an unusual move, one liberal California congregation, the West Hollywood Presbyterian Church, recently split off to join the United Church of Christ, saying Presbyterians have been too slow to support gays and lesbians.

NEWS: Cameroon, Turkey Cheese, Newt Gingrich, And Mysteries

Smilinggingrich Towleroad-roadicon Gingrich is still against marriage equality -- but he appreciates how, in Washington, we're going about it "the right way."

Towleroad-roadicon Retired Presbyterian Rev. Jane Sparh censured for performing gay weddings when they were legal in CA:

"The issue is not simply the same-sex ceremony," the commission wrote in its majority opinion decision. "It is the misrepresentation that the Presbyterian Church ... recognizes the ceremony and the resulting relationship to be a marriage in the eyes of the church."

The censure constitutes an official rebuke, but does not carry additional penalties such as or exclusion from church services or ex-communication.

The commission, made up of 15 ministers and elders from around the country, held a hearing on Spahr's case in San Antonio last week. The six members who voted against censuring Spahr said punishing her sends the message that gay couples "are children of a lesser God."

Towleroad-roadicon Somehow, this tale of a Grindr affair that wasn't was Salon's lead story yesterday:

... But the most unsettling experiences occurred when I saw Brian. I panicked when I passed him on my bike. I would pedal faster so he didn’t recognize me. Once, I saw him standing on my subway platform at the bottom of the stairs, but instead of introducing myself, I turned around and waited for the next train. I’m not sure what I was afraid of — awkwardness, I guess. I mean, what do you say to someone whom you’ve never met, but whom you’ve seen naked? But mostly, I was afraid that if I met him, he wouldn’t live up to my elaborate fantasies, and I’d have to end it all.

Towleroad-roadicon National Review editors to Rick Santorum: "Stop tipping your hand!"

... He is one of us, he has fought for our causes, and he has the political scars to prove it. Santorum is not one of those Republicans about whom Richard Brookhiser once remarked, “In their hearts they know they’re wrong.” He seems serenely confident that with enough time he can change anyone’s mind on the issues. But he has not always shown that he knows how to pick his battles wisely, or that he understands that voters want a president with a suitably modest conception of a president’s proper role in national life ...

If he does not heed this lesson, he risks doing damage to the causes he rightly holds dear. Already his inopportune remarks about contraception have lent an undeserved credibility to liberaldom’s claim that a Republican “war on contraception” rather than a Democratic attack on freedom is what underlies the debate over the Obama administration’s new regulations. 

We have defended Santorum many times in the past and will happily continue to do so. We do wish he would leave himself exposed a bit less often. 

Towleroad-roadicon Ten women arrested in Cameroon on charges of lesbianism.

Towleroad-roadicon The grieving family of Darius Frazier thinks he was killed because he lived as a woman.

Towleroad-roadicon J.K. Rowling's new novel is ... a murder mystery!

Towleroad-roadicon WashPo does puff piece on institute which claims to teach ... magic!

Howard Broadman wants to see as much as he can before age slows him down, but he wonders if he might have ventured too far this time. He takes a seat at a long wooden table across from a man wearing a cap with a firefighter emblem. Five other people fill the plush white chairs around them, but soon Broadman is listening only to the firefighter, watching a spoon dangle between the man’s fingers.

“I’ve done other programs here,” the firefighter is saying. “In one, we learned to bend spoons with our minds.”

Towleroad-roadicon At last -- the Dictionary of American Regional English:

... Such was a particularly nerve-racking day in the life of one of America’s most ambitious lexicographical projects, which culminates with the publication by Harvard University Press of Volume V (Sl-Z) next month, a mere 50 years after the project was inaugurated by Frederic G. Cassidy, an exuberant Jamaican-born linguist given to signing off conversations with “On to Z!”

Mr. Cassidy, who died in 2000, did not make it to the end of the alphabet. But to scholars and language lovers the work he set in motion is an invaluable guide to the way Americans not only speak but also live — a homegrown answer to the Oxford English Dictionary, served up with heaping sides of “slump” (cobbler), “turkey cheese” (cottage cheese) and “wapatuli” (a potent Wisconsin punch).

Towleroad-roadicon Reaction shots: See hundreds of actors and actresses learn they have -- or, more frequently, haven't -- won Academy Awards.

Towleroad-roadicon Why does movie violence sound the way it does? How'd it get so squishy?

Towleroad-roadicon Singer/songwriter/Peter Gabriel impersonator Gotye is very impressive. Five friends covering him with one guitar? Even moreso! Watch AFTER THE JUMP ...



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