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Presbyterians turn deaf ear to inclusiveness calls

Sat 21 Apr 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News View at NDHA

Rev. Martin Baker The Presbyterian church has turned a deaf ear to renewed calls by several ministers for it to become more inclusive of gay people. At the funeral of noted gay minister David Clark last month the Rev. Alan Davidson in particular called on the church to honour Clark, who had immense struggles with the church due to his open homosexuality, by embracing gays as Ministers. Asked for any theological basis for the Presbyterians' continuing official discrimination against openly gay people, the church's spokesperson, the Rev. Martin Baker, only acknowledged that there has been on-going debate and that "groups both supportive and not supportive of 
this policy have supported their views with theological argument and
 reference to scripture." Baker also side-stepped commenting on the belief voiced by Rev. Keith Rowe after Clark's funeral that the Presbyterians continue to sacrifice inclusiveness in order to avoid further splitting the church. "Biblical scripture affirms a unique unity experienced by those who join in 
following Christ. In my view, the unity and the justice about which the
 Bible speaks are inseparable," he says. Asked what mesage the Church has for glbt Presbyterians who are allowed to worship
 within the church but are told they are unacceptable as ministers, Baker reiterates the organisation's stance that "anyone in a sexual relationship outside marriage between a
 man and a woman cannot be admitted for training, licensed, ordained or 
inducted." This rule only applies "to those who are called to specific positions of 
leadership in our church," he says. "Anyone is welcome in a Presbyterian church." A long-time close observer of the Church's occasional attempts to address the issue of homosexual leaders describes the position voiced by Baker as "a sad reflection on a church which led the way in inclusiveness, but never persuaded its whole membership of the value of the policy, and hence watched it rapidly erode." You can discuss this New Zealand gay community news story in the Forum.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Saturday, 21st April 2012 - 11:49am

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