In the first test case of a 1997 amendment to the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) regarding sexual behavior, an ecclesiastical court ruled March 6 that the First Presbyterian Church of Stamford (Conn.) did not violate church law by electing an openly homosexual man to serve on its governing board.

Although congregants were aware that Wayne Osborne, 38, lived with another homosexual man in a "committed, loving relationship," church witnesses at the trial said they could not prove that he engaged in a sexually promiscuous lifestyle.

The Permanent Judicial Com mission of the Southern New England Presbytery voted 4 to 1 that Osborne's election did not violate the controversial amendment, which states that church leaders should practice fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness (CT, April 28, 1997, p. 83).

Church deacon Dan Sassi told CT that one elder has resigned over the issue and other church members are concerned over the direction the church is taking, but the controversy has prompted the congregation to study the issue and focus on prayer. Sassi says, "There's ample room for everyone's attitudes about this." Two church members complained of Osborne's election to the presbytery, saying the church knowingly disobeyed the Book of Order.

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