Gay Presbyterians and straight supporters at the General Assembly were shocked that the Assembly yesterday rejected gay and lesbian people, and people living in de facto relationships, as ministers and elders. However, the vote was only the first step in a process that could be overturned at the next Assembly in 2006. As it changed the practice and the custom of the Church, it needs the support of two consecutive Assemblies to become law. The voting was very close. The decision taken does not affect gay and lesbian people who at the time of the Assembly were already ministers and elders. Rev David Clark of Auckland, one of a number of gay and lesbian leaders in the Presbyterian Church declared to the Assembly, "You can pass all the rules you bloody well like, but we will always be among you." Rev Dr Margaret Mayman of Wellington compared the determination of the progressive wing of the Presbyterian Church to that of people involved in past justice struggles that are now complete non-issues. "As Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr would not desist from seeking justice, it is the same for us today. There will be other resolutions brought to future Assemblies, until like the ordination of women in the Presbyterian Church, the granting of civil rights to African Americans, and the end of apartheid in South Africa, all of which were defended by reference to the Bible, justice will be done," said Dr Mayman. "This is a crucial issue for Presbyterians. While others say that we should forget gay people and get on with mission, we say that the church will never be able to connect with society as long as it discriminates against groups of people, " said Dr. Mayman. "Moral conservatism is the most significant factor in declining membership in churches," she said." She also reiterated that they would not give up on calling the church to be true to the gospel of love and compassion.
Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff
First published: Friday, 24th September 2004 - 12:00pm
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