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Presbyterians reject ban on same-sex unions
A proposed amendment to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Book of Order that would have banned the blessing of same-sex unions was defeated yesterday as the 87th of the denomination's 173 presbyteries rejected it. The amendment, known as Amendment O, bars the use of Presbyterian personnel and property in "pronounc[ing] blessing or giv[ing] approval of the church or invok[ing] the blessing of God upon any relationship that is inconsistent with God's intention" for people to live "either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or in chastity in singleness." Hans Cornelder, who runs the Presbyterian weblog/news site Presbyweb, told the Associated Press that Amendment O was defeated not because pastors are eager to unite homosexuals ("Very few people in the presbytery debates have spoken in favor of blessing same-sex unions," he said) but because voters thought it intruded too much into the autonomy and jurisdiction of local congregations. That analysis is echoed by conservatives in almost every other news report. Conservative pastor Jack Haberer of Houston's Clear Lake Presbyterian Church tells the Houston Chronicle, "What I am hearing is that we have gotten into a pattern of writing laws for everything, that there is a legalistic approach to promoting biblical faith that does not feel right for the message of grace." " William Giles, executive coordinator of the conservative Presbyterian Coalition, tells the Chicago Tribune that the presbyteries rejected Amendment O because they "saw it solely as a political issue and felt it would unduly hinder the free exercise of pastoral ministry." It might sound like spin, but apparently there's evidence to back the claim up: earlier this month, a survey by the PCUSA of its members showed 57 percent supported a ban on same-sex blessing rituals. But some Presbyterians eager to see more tolerance of homosexual behavior are claiming victory on the sexual ethics issue as well as the church government issue. "People are getting impatient with intolerance," Laird Stuart, pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church (the largest Presbyterian church in San Francisco), tells the San Francisco Chronicle. "The silent middle has decided there is too much at stake to remain silent." Likewise, others are gearing up to overturn a 1996 amendment that prohibits the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals (actually, the same language was used for that amendment as for Amendment O: church officials are required to practice either "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or in chastity in singleness.") That battle will be fought in June, at the PCUSA General Assembly in Louisville.

Anglican bishops silent on Episcopalian ordinations of homosexuals
In another case of much denominational ado with little final action taken, the leaders of Anglicanism's 38 national branches met last week in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and released a rather innocuous statement. Conservative Episcopalians had hoped that more decisive action would have been taken regarding the acceptance of homosexual clergy and unions in U.S. and Canadian branches of the church.

Faced with cancellations, Raze stops touring
After band member Ja'Marc Davis was arrested on counts of lewd molestation, rape by instrumentation, and forcible sodomy (he pleaded innocent last week), Raze tried to continue its tour. But, reports The Tulsa World, churches weren't as eager to sponsor the groups concerts. The band was forced to call off its 30-city tour.

Amy Grant gives birth to baby girl
She and new husband Vince Gill have named the baby Corrina Grant Gill. She has three children with ex-husband Gary Chapman. Gill has an 18-year-old daughter with his ex-wife.

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