Press

Task Force's Institute for Welcoming Resources hails historic Presbyterian Church (USA) vote on opening up ordination

Date: 
May 11, 2011

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Inga Sarda-Sorensen
Task Force Director of Communications
(Office) 646.358.1463
(Cell) 202.641.5592
isorensen@theTaskForce.org

Dr. Michael Adee
Executive Director
More Light Presbyterians
505.577.0086
MICHAELADEE@aol.com

WASHINGTON, May 10 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and its Institute for Welcoming Resources congratulate the Presbyterian Church (USA), which today crossed a historic threshold to eliminate official barriers to the ordination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as ministers and lay leaders in the 2.4 million-member denomination. Twin Cities Presbyterians became the 87th Presbytery, a regional governing body for the denomination, to vote to ratify this constitutional amendment giving the denomination the majority of votes needed to approve this landmark change.

Presbyterians join a growing Protestant movement of Lutherans, Episcopalians and members of the United Church of Christ who have eliminated official barriers to leadership for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Read joint statement from Presbyterian groups.

The Rev. Dr. Janet Edwards, a co-moderator of More Light Presbyterians, was jubilant with this milestone. "More Light Presbyterians has been working for justice and equality since 1974 when the first gay minister came out in our denomination. Today, we celebrate the elimination of the last official barrier to the open service of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Passage of amendment 10-A restores our longstanding Presbyterian emphasis upon faith and character regarding ordination. Now, faithful and qualified lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Presbyterians can openly serve the church with energy, intelligence, imagination and love."

More Light Presbyterians, along with other mainline Protestant denominations, comprise the leadership of the welcoming church movement, which works closely with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Institute for Welcoming Resources.

"One of the most powerful gifts a religious tradition can give to another is the witness of choosing love over fear and justice over exclusion," said the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, faith work director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and its Institute for Welcoming Resources. "We in the larger religious world have been given that gift today as the Presbyterian Church has witnessed to the world its sacred persistence, its faithful pursuit of justice, and its joyful celebration of the gifts God has given to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons called to ministry. Thanks be to God!"

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Institute for Welcoming Resources, with welcoming church leaders, sponsored the Believe Out Loud Power Summit last fall where organizers and trainers worked together with 500 participants to lift up and further develop best organizing practices for policy change in both political-based and faith-based organizations. This coalition demonstrated a deep commitment to liberation and full equality in all realms of society.

"Change within the Presbyterian Church did not occur in a vacuum. The witness of change from the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the example of the Metropolitan Community Churches inspired Presbyterians to end discrimination and take this stand for justice. Being part of the larger welcoming church movement is a key factor as we learn from each other and support one another. We're so grateful for the partnership with and support from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The impact of today's change goes beyond the church by motivating Presbyterians to keep working for justice and equality in civil society and around the world. The thousands of conversations, prayers and the sharing of hopes and dreams are all part of building a church that reflects God's heart and a world that respects all persons," said Dr. Michael Adee, executive director of More Light Presbyterians.

In July 2010, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted for the third time to end ordination discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. This time, after years of work for justice, a majority of regional Presbyteries ratified the policy change.

To learn more about the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, follow us on Twitter: @TheTaskForce.

–30–

The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.