Presbyterian Church (USA) votes to keep "fidelity and chastity" requirement
An effort to allow the ordination of homosexual ministers in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was defeated yesterday. Last year, the PCUSA's General Assembly voted to delete language in the PCUSA Book of Order requiring ordained church officers "to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness," but that move had to be approved by a majority of the denomination's 173 presbyteries. Yesterday, the deciding 87th vote was cast against the change. According to Presbyweb, an informative Presbyterian Weblog that has kept careful track of the debate, the vote now stands at 40-89. The site notes that the vote is being defeated by a much wider margin than similar measures in 1996 and 1997. "I'm definitely frustrated by [the vote]," Byron Shafer, a Manhattan pastor who was pushing for the change, tells The New York Times. "I've come over the years to know a lot of gay and lesbian Christian Presbyterians who have had the gifts of the Spirit, who obviously are gifted for ministry. This is just a failure of our church to recognize the gifts of the Spirit in these people." The Associated Press quotes the other side of the debate. "Hopefully, this strong vote will conclude the decades old repetition of attempts to alter the church's position on these matters," says Presbyterians for Renewal's Joe Rightmyer. "[The vote] reaffirms that the historic witness of Scripture and our confessions regarding sexual morality is clear and to be preserved within our denomination."

There will certainly be much commentary at Presbyweb, Presbyterian News Service, The Layman (conservative), More Light Presbyterians (pro-homosexual-ordination) ...

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