It was not, as retiring moderator John Conner had been telling United Presbyterians for several months, a one-issue General Assembly. Attention just seemed to be focused on the big issue: whether or not to ordain admitted, practicing homosexuals. The United Presbyterians’ highest governing body had a clearly negative answer for that question, but in reaching it the assembly also had to take at least implicit stands on biblical interpretation, civil rights, the connectional system of church government, pluralism in the denomination, ecclesiastical discipline, and other issues (See news story, page 38).
William Lytle, the new moderator, will no doubt be telling audiences during the next year what he said repeatedly during the meeting in San Diego: The conservatives did not win; the liberals did not win. He and vice-moderator Patricia Metcalf worked hard during the debates to keep down applause and other “victory” demonstrations. Evangelicals who had labored hard and well to defeat proposals that would permit homosexual clergy wisely counseled each other not to gloat.
Despite the new moderator’s hope that there be no winners or losers in San Diego, there were victories and defeats. He admitted as much in the closing minutes of the meeting; he acknowledged that there had been a lot of “hurting” during the assembly. Nobody got all that he wanted, however, and many issues were settled by compromise. Advocates of various causes will be back next year to try again to get what they failed to get in 1978.
In the forefront of those people promising to return in 1979 for more assembly sympathy are the homosexual activists. The 1978 meeting of the United Presbyterian governing body spoke up for the civil rights of homosexuals, for ministries ...1
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