05 February 2009

The Ol' Ark's A-Moverin'

Paul Mowry

"The Ol' Ark's A-Moverin', a-moverin', a-moverin'; The ol' ark's a-moverin' and I'm going home…" My mom would break into the refrain from this 1939 gospel song whenever big changes were appearing in someone's life. Well, she's singing now!

The Western North Carolina Presbytery (WNC), just voted in support of the current proposed constitutional amendment to allow partnered gay clergy. It was surprising, significant, and substantial. This turnaround comes after more than a decade of support for the church's policy that requires ministers "to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness."

In 2001, WNC voted against a constitutional amendment by 100-166. They made history on January 31, 2009, by voting in favor of the new amendment that allows partnered gay clergy 144-108, a 57% margin.

In another turnaround, Lake Huron Presbytery also changed its voting record, voting for equality by 57%. Members of the Presbytery voted 43-32 in favor of the new amendment, a significant change from its 2001 vote of 42-64

The excitement so many felt at the General Assembly in San Jose last year – that the church was living into a new era of its vision, mission and call – are feeling the Spirit moving again. Even the conservative Presbyterian publication, The Layman, is predicting that if other presbyteries that kept the status quo by 30 or fewer votes in 2001 also decide to change in favor of the new wording, the hurdle for Lesbian and Gay people seeking ordination will be removed by an overall vote of 96-77. Many Presbyteries will vote by the end of February but the final decision will be announced shortly after May 18.

Pack your bags, Mom. A lifetime Presbyterian since her baptism in 1921, she considers herself a Presbyterian-in-Exile, having tired after thirty-some years of the church's lack of acceptance. She may well be "going home" any day now!

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