Southern Religion

Lesbian approved for ordination by San Francisco Presbytery


The San Francisco Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church(USA) by a vote of 156 for and 138 voted Nov. 10 to ordain as a minister Lisa Larges. She is blind and a lesbian who has sought for more than 20 years to become a PC(USA) minister. The decision has been stayed and she cannot be ordained “until all legal hurdles are overcome [.pdf],” perhaps 18 months hence.
Leslie Scanlon of the Presbyterian Outlook wrote:

During a late-night meeting that Presbyterians followed coast-to-coast via Twitter, the presbytery voted 156-138 to allow Larges to be ordained. And it voted 157-144 to approve That All May Freely Serve, for which Larges serves as minister coordinator, as a validated ministry.

Mary Holder Naegeli, a minister from San Francisco Presbytery who has been involved with earlier legal challenges to Larges’ efforts to be ordained, released a statement to the news media on Nov. 11, saying that “enough signatures were collected at the close of the meeting to secure a Stay of Enforcement while a remedial complaint is filed with the Synod of the Pacific Permanent Judicial Commission.”

Naegeli’s statement also says that until that complaint is resolved in the church court system, Larges cannot be ordained.

The vote to permit Larges’ ordination is seen as groundbreaking in part because Larges has declared a “scruple,” or a conscientious objection, to the section of the PC(USA)’s Book of Order that limits ordination to those who practice chastity if they are single or fidelity if they are married.

The highest Presbyterian Church court, General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission, has not yet ruled on the central question of whether conscientious objections to the “fidelity and chastity” requirement should be permitted.

Here is her statement before the San Francisco Presbytery [.pdf] affirming the Essentials of Faith and Polity.
In a statement after the vote, Larges said:

Change is happening in the churches. People are realizing that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have long functioned as contributing members of their faith traditions. It is time to tell the truth – we are all created in God’s image.

Some blogs were unrestrained in their celebration (1, 2, 3). Others were more philosophical (1) and before the vote Pastor Bob explored church law in some detail. As he did, focusing on the “scruple” issue, afterward. Her scruple may be read in her Statement of Departure [.pdf].

Her approval and subsequent developments have been closely attended to on twitter. Her supporters used and use the hash tag #sfpby.



November 13, 2009 - Posted by | Churches, PC(USA), Presbyterian, Religion |

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