From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 08:07:03


                      by Jerry L. Van Marter 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--With just over half the Presbyterian Church's 171 
presbyteries reporting, the proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit 
the blessing of same-sex unions by Presbyterian ministers is headed toward 
     As of March 6, the official tally (kept by the Office of the General 
Assembly) is 40 presbyteries in favor of the amendment, 38 opposed, and 11 
"no action."  In order to pass, the amendment must receive an affirmative 
vote by 86 presbyteries. 
     "If this pattern of voting continues, the amendment will fail because 
it has received a plurality but not a majority of affirmative votes," said 
the Rev. Fred Jenkins, director of constitutional services in the stated 
clerk's office. 
     The proposed amendment was initiated by the Presbytery of Southern New 
England.  It would have added a sentence to the Directory for Worship 
provision on marriage (W-4.9001): "Therefore, it is inappropriate for 
ministers to participate in the blessing of any same-sex union." 
     When the proposal reached the floor of last year's General Assembly, 
an amendment to it was approved changing the wording to "it is not 
permitted for ministers to participate in the blessing of any same-sex 
     The Advisory Committee on the Constitution advised the Assembly not to 
approve the amendment on the grounds that "it adds nothing that is not 
already in the  Book of Order.'" 
     Currently denominational policy, adopted by the 1991 General Assembly, 
states that sessions should not allow the use of their churches for 
same-sex union ceremonies if the session determines the ceremony to be the 
same as a marriage ceremony. 
     Likewise, the policy states that "it would not be proper for a 
minister to perform a same-sex ceremony that the minister determines to be 
the same as a marriage ceremony." 
               Record of presbyteries having voted 
     The 40 presbyteries that have voted to affirm the amendment are 
Beaver-Butler, Central Florida, Charleston-Atlantic, Charlotte, Cherokee, 
Coastal Carolina, Flint River, Foothills, Greater Atlanta, Huntingdon, 
Kendall, Kiskiminetas, Lackawanna, Lake Erie, Lehigh, Memphis, Minnesota 
Valleys, Mississippi, Missouri Union, New Covenant, New Harmony, North 
Alabama, Northumberland, Noroeste, Peace River, Prospect Hill, Providence, 
St. Andrew, St. Augustine, Salem, San Diego, San Fernando, San Francisco, 
Shenandoah, South Alabama, Southeastern Illinois, Suroeste, Stockton, 
Western North Carolina, and Yukon. 
     The 38 presbyteries that have voted to reject the amendment are 
Alaska, Arkansas, Boise, Chicago, Cimarron, de Cristo, Donegal, East Iowa, 
Eastern Oregon, Genesee Valley, Geneva, Heartland, Hudson River, the James, 
John Calvin, Lake Huron, Long Island, Louisville, Middle Tennessee, 
Muskingum Valley, New Hope, New York City, Northern Kansas, Northern New 
York, Northern Waters, Ohio Valley, Pacific, Palo Duro, the Peaks, 
Redwoods, Santa Fe, Scioto Valley, Sierra Blanca, South Louisiana, 
Transylvania, Twin Cities Area, Utah, and West Virginia. 
     The 11 presbyteries that have voted to take no action on the amendment 
are Baltimore, Carlisle, Florida, Homestead, Newton, North Puget Sound, 
Philadelphia, Utica, Western Kentucky, Whitewater Valley, and Wyoming. 
                             # # # 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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