Shuck and Jive

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Redwoods Presbytery Refuses to Rebuke Rev. Jane Spahr

Good on the Presbytery of Redwoods for refusing to impose a rebuke on Rev. Jane Adams Spahr.  Rev. Spahr was found guilty by the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission in February of violating her ordination vows by marrying 16 same-sex couples, even though doing so was legal in California at the time.   The presbytery stood up for her and said:
THAT the Presbytery oppose imposition of the rebuke as set forth in the decision of the Presbytery Permanent  Judicial Commission, dated August 27, 2010 (which was stayed by its terms until the present day), by declaring and resolving as follows:

WHEREAS, our primary ordination vow as Ruling and Teaching Elders is to be obedient to Jesus Christ, the Word of God, as the Scriptures bear witness to him, (F-1.02; W-4.4003(a);

WHEREAS, the love of God in Jesus Christ is for all people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people;

WHEREAS, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the constitution require that full inclusion and pastoral care be extended to all members of the church;

WHEREAS, this Presbytery called the Rev. Dr. Jane Adams Spahr to a ministry in outreach to – and in community among and with – lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people;

WHEREAS, the 38-year ministry of the Rev. Dr. Jane Adams Spahr has been faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to her calling;

WHEREAS, the decision of August 27, 2010, by its terms, acknowledges and apologizes (1) that the rules of the church “are against the Gospel,” and (2) that the decision and rebuke continue the grievous harm “that has been, and continues to be, done” by the church to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people “in the name of Jesus Christ”;

Be it RESOLVED that the Presbytery of the Redwoods opposes imposition of the rebuke set forth in the decision dated August 27, 2010, as inconsistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the faithful life of ministry lived out in this Presbytery. 
Rev. Spahr points out that the issue is violence.  Whenever you treat people as second-class citizens you invite and encourage violence on them.  She said this a number of times in her interview with me on Religion For Life.  If you haven't heard the interview yet, check it out.  

Rev. Jane Adams Spahr and Marriage Equality

Here is an article about the decision in the L.A. Times.


  1. It sounds like Redwoods is refusing to let religion get in the way of the Kingdom of God. They should be given a medal.

  2. As a non-Presbyterian, I have to ask: What is the practical implication of this? (But yay for them!)


  3. The practical implication is that Redwoods may help set a precedent for defiance of the GAPJC when other ministers are hassled for doing ministry.

  4. Wasn't the decision stayed anyway? Are they kicking a sleeping dog? Not sure I follow...

  5. I think I get it now.

    They were supposed to rebuke her at the meeting. Instead they passed a motion to say "hell no we won't go".


    The conservatives are defying authority, the liberals are defying authority, (what authority?) cats are sleeping with dogs, it must be the Apocalypse.

  6. Redwoods did the right thing. No more enabling of prejudice.

  7. Steve Salyards of GA Junkie has a good analysis of this.

    The Redwoods action is a protest statement.

  8. Speaking of marriage, John, did you see the latest PCUSA poll with the following result:

    "Around one-half of members (51 percent) and ruling elders (48 percent) oppose same-sex marriage,"

    In other words (and this article seems carefully worded to obscure this fact): a near majority of teaching and ruling elders support same sex marriage, and only a slim majority of the membership oppose it.

    "There has been a significant increase in Presbyterian support for same-sex marriage since 2005, when only 13 percent of members, 22 percent of ruling elders, 35 percent of pastors, and 51 percent of specialized ministers were in favor of allowing same-sex couples to wed. "

    Uh...significant? Talk about understatement. :) A better term might be "GIGANTOR increase."

    And even more interesting? Commitment ceremonies, civil unions, domestic partnerships ... Not. Even. Mentioned. We're already this far on the whole enchilada, without any significant debate on the issue at the GA level.

    Max Plank was right, and though we've seen that at the individual and Session level across the country, we're beginning to see it now at the Presbytery level. The next Presbytery won't issue the rebuke to begin with, and it will no longer just be a protest statement. They'll simply ignore it.

  9. This is a major shift. When the President comes out, you know the numbers are there...

    Hopefully we will change the paperwork at this General Assembly and give folks something to vote for (that is, marriage equality) at their presbytery meetings!