I’ve mentioned before that the first article I wrote on the religion beat — on March 20, 1997 — had to do with Presbyterian Church (USA) banning the ordination of gays and lesbians.
The change to church law — widely known as “Amendment B” — became the focus of a denominational controversy that has never gone away. Several unsuccessful attempts have been made to rewrite the amendment.
Here we go again.
Last year’s national gathering of PCUSA delegates — the 218th General Assembly — voted in favor of rewriting the amendment to remove a requirement that clergy “live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman…or chastity in singleness.”
A new amendment would require “Those who are called to ordained service in the church, by their assent to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation…pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church, striving to follow where he leads through the witness of the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions.”
For the change to go through, a majority of presbyteries — regional bodies — have to approve it. That means 87 out of 173.
So far, according to one tally, 36 presbyteries have voted for the change, 46 against.
The Hudson River Presbytery — which includes 91 congregations in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and four counties north — voted this week. Clergy and lay delegates voted overwhelming in favor of the change: 94 yes, 12 no, 1 abstention.
So that’s one presbytery among the 36 that want to change Amendment B.
Other presbyteries will vote through June. It’s hard to say right now when a majority will be reached.