Shuck and Jive

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Detroit Presbytery Sends Equality Overture to GA

It is fun having a blog. I get press releases. Oooh. This is a good one. It's from More Light Presbyterians. Check it:
Detroit, MI — Tonight the Presbytery of Detroit, a regional governing body of the Presbyterian Church (USA) once again voted for equality and justice for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) members of the 2.5-million member Protestant denomination.

In a vote of 67 to 54, the Presbytery of Detroit voted to send an overture to the denomination’s General Assembly that removes barriers to the ordination of LGBT members as elders, deacons, or ministers. If the General Assembly votes to approve this amendment during its meeting July 3 to July 10, 2010 — as it approved a similar amendment at its biannual meeting two years ago — it will then be sent to the 173 presbyteries for approval.

“This is an exciting and hopeful time to be a Presbyterian. We are seeing many Presbyterians who had previously opposed ordination equality now recognizing that we are all in this together, regardless of sexual orientation or other human differences. We are all part of the body of Christ. We are deeply grateful that Presbytery of Detroit once again stands on the side of justice and equality for all members of our denomination and is leading the way for our denomination to follow,” said Vikki Dearing, co-Moderator of the national board of More Light Presbyterians, a national organization working for spiritual, ordination and marriage equality for LGBT people and their families in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The overture was originally proposed by the Session of Northside Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, MI on April 25, 2009, the day that the previous attempt to ratify such an amendment failed by a razor thin margin. “We are seeing something today akin to what happened in our denomination in the 1950s with the ordination of women,” said Brian Spolarich, Elder and Clerk of the Session, the governing body of the congregation. “It took over a decade of organizing, and multiple votes for our denomination to get it right, but in the end we recognized the Holy Spirit leading us to draw the circle of leadership more broadly, not more narrowly. I have faith that we will eventually get this one right, too.”

About Northside Presbyterian Church:

Located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Northside Presbyterian Church is a small, dynamic congregation of of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Established in 1959 as an outreach to the University of Michigan's North Campus, today we now attract a diverse membership from all over Southeastern Michigan. We are one of nearly 90 churches comprising the Presbytery of Detroit. In our denomination, the Presbyterian Church(USA), Northside Presbyterian Church takes its stand as a More Light congregation. We affirm Christ's inclusive love for all and justice among all, celebrating the Spirit's marvelous gift of diversity. We invite everyone -- regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or other worldly condition -- to fully join us in worship, leadership, and community. Web site:

About More Light Presbyterians:

Following the risen Christ and seeking to make the Church a true community of hospitality, the mission of More Light Presbyterians is to work for the full ordination, spiritual and marriage equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry, and witness of the PCUSA. Web site:
Our own beloved, Alan Kiste, sent me the release. Alan is on session at Northside Presbyterian and helped to draft the resolution! Thanks, Alan. He reminds us that there are only 221 shopping days until the next GA.


  1. All the thanks and credit goes to our Session at Northside for passing it, and to the folks on the Presbytery's "Homosexuality and the Church Task Force" for working hard to get out the vote. And of course, to the good folks of the Presbytery of Detroit who showed their usual good, old-fashioned, and fair Michigan common sense in working to try to find a way out of this mess we've been in for 13 years since Amendment B was passed.

  2. Kudos all around. It would be good if some other presbyteries would concur or offer different versions of a similar action. I expect there will be in the next few months.

    Curious about the debate over this as in what were some objections?

  3. The debate was pretty typical:

    1) The primary objection was that if we modify G-6.0106b we will have no standards for ordination at all, ever. Strange that a group of people who have a Bible welded to their belt buckle so easily forgets Scripture as a standard. (Note, it was particularly funny when one commissioner mistakenly referred to the articles in the Book of Order as "The Scriptures in the Book of Order." Freudian slip, or honest statement? You be the judge.

    Anyway, this objection merely proves that the person has not actually read the language of the amendment "declare fidelity to the standards of the church". They also haven't read the current language which does not mention ordination standards at all. I'm not sure if we could require a literacy test for commissioners, but it might be a good idea. I'm only sorta kidding here.

    It also begs the question, "What the hell did this denomination do before 1996???" Were there no standards before B was adopted?!? Ironically, this objection is usually brought by people old enough to have been ordained well before 1996, so God only knows what sort of kitten-killing, sidewalk-spitting, ordination-standard-breaking behavior they get up to, since there were no standards when they were ordained.

    2) There was an amendment to insert something about "marriage between one man and one woman" into our language. In other words, of all the standards for ordination that one could enumerate as examples of these standards, the only one worth mentioning is that one has to be straight. Not say, declaring faith in Jesus Christ, for example. Nope, we'll let that one slide and stick with the straight thing. This was soundly defeated, obviously.

    I don't know if that amendment was from Detroit or part of a larger movement, but it was a major tactical error on the part of someone (not surprising, the other side is notoriously tone-deaf.)

    3) We got called deviants. But it isn't a presbytery meeting unless at least one person calls gay people deviants. Every time I get called an abomination, a fairy get's his wings.

    My main argument was, not surprisingly, based on mutual forbearance. I pointed out that, under the language of this overture, if you object to LGBT people being ordained, then vote no when they're nominated. Period.

    I also wondered aloud what was next. What's the next non-essential the busybodies, fusspots, tattletales, and scolds will require us to agree to or else we'll have charges filed. For example, for now they're allowing chastity in singleness (for straight people, anyway). How long before they decide single people simply cannot be trusted, they find some BS rationale in their Bible to support it, and start agitating to get single people kicked off sessions and out of pulpits. Seem unlikely? Yeah, well, all of this seems unlikely to anyone who actually understands Presbyterian polity. Yet that didn't stop Amendment B from being passed.

    Anyway, it was an interesting evening, as usual.

  4. Every time I get called an abomination, a fairy gets his wings.

    But of course. : )

    Thanks for that. I often wonder what the debate is like regarding sending a resolution as opposed to receiving a proposed amendment from GA. Pretty much the same.

    I think it is a good approach.

    Charity on non-essentials, not that hard a concept.

  5. "Charity on non-essentials, not that hard a concept."

    It is for the busybodies, fusspots, tattletales, and scolds. It's impossible.

    One of the commissioners who spoke against our overture is a dear woman who is a saint of the church for all of her mission work. We were both commissioners to GA a few years ago and I enjoy spending time with her. She's quite a firecracker and I'm not sure there's any limit to her energy and enthusiasm.

    She's also dead set against LGBT people being ordained. OK. So what? I couldn't care less, honestly. But unfortunately rather than simply voting "No" the next time some queer comes up for a vote, she supports an amendment that doesn't allow me the same freedom of conscience and respect that I'm more than happy to allow her.

    I just don't get it. I never have. I have always found it strange that so many of my elders (ie. those older than me) were never taught the basic lessons of good manners that my parents taught me, like "Mind your own business" for example. Or "Don't tattle".

    I was always under the impression that it's my generation and younger that have no manners, but we seem to have a much better grasp of them than the older generation sometimes. Not sure why it is.
    Perhaps it has something to do with retirement and not having enough to keep one busy? :)

  6. Perhaps it has something to do with retirement and not having enough to keep one busy? :)

    I think you have it. It is also an unwillingness to let go of power and make room for younger generations to take leadership.

    Love ya seniors, but be mentors not power brokers.

  7. Every time I get called an abomination, a fairy gets his wings.

    Serious LOL, Alan. But shouldn't fairy be capitalized? ;-)